The Fuller family: Three generations of Law Dawgs
Carol and Herb Fuller met in their first-year contracts class in 1952. One of only a handful of women in their class, Carol sat two rows behind Herb, and he was the lucky fellow who caught her eye. And they lived happily ever after.
Of course there is much more to the story over the past 65 years, including successful law careers, decades of public service and a vibrant family that has followed in their footsteps. They are one of the rare families with three generations of UW Law graduates.
Today six members of the family work together at Fuller & Fuller, the personal injury firm Herb and Carol founded in Olympia in 1972.
“I never dreamed that’s the way it would turn out, but with all these attorneys in the family, it kind of dictated a family practice,” said Herb ’54.
Other UW Law grads at the firm include their daughter-in-law Leonor ’84 and daughter Marya ’86. Their two other children, Jay and Nina, are also partners at the firm and earned their law degrees from the University of Puget Sound. Their grandson Evan ’15 is an associate at the Connolly Law Offices in Seattle, and their youngest grandson attends law school in California.
“There was no way of not being exposed to the law,” Evan said. “I was always around attorneys and my family would talk about the firm, but there was not a concerted effort or any pressure put on us to go to law school.”
His mother, Leonor, who is among the law school’s most involved alumni, said it was hard not to talk about work at home.
“But what came home is the satisfaction in the work and the conviction that we’re really helping people,” she said. “We not only have generations in the members of our firm, but we also see generations in our clients who send their family members to us.”
Herb, who remains of counsel in the family firm, says working with his family has been rewarding and sees a long future for the firm.
“We have one more who plans to join us, so it looks like we’ll be around for a while,” he said proudly. “I like that idea of continuity. Some law firms are like teenage love affairs breaking up all the time, but we stuck together. We’ve had our stresses and strains, of course, but it has been a great experience to have a family firm like this.”
Leonor – known as Leo to friends – appreciates the foundation her parents-in-law laid and their integrity and compassion for their clients.
“I take a lot of pride in being part of what Carol and Herb started,” she said.
A triple graduate of UW – her personalized UW license plates even declare her a “3PLDAWG” – she earned her bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in linguistics from UW. While in law school, Leo held leadership positions, including serving as the law school representative to the King County Bar Association, and she has been continually involved in the law school since.
“In many ways, this law school changed my life, and I will be forever grateful,” Leo said. “It allowed me to blossom, find myself, pursue studies where I felt I could make a difference in the world and develop my own style of leadership.”
She served on the law school’s Alumni Association Board and is a member of the Leadership Council, where she has encouraged former UW Law student leaders to become re-engaged with the law school. Her whole UW experience was formative, culminating with her years at the law school, said Leo, who also serves on another higher education board.
“In an era when public higher education is not getting the support it deserves from government, those of us fortunate enough to receive degrees from amazing public institutions like UW really need to reflect on and be thankful for how these degrees changed the trajectory of our lives,” she said. “In the case of our family and the law degrees from the UW, you can multiply that by three generations.”
Evan, who worked in politics during college before deciding on law school, echoes his mom in expressing gratitude for the law school and the tradition his grandparents started.
“My grandparents are two of the people I admire the most in my life,” he said. “Not only are they full of integrity, but they also approach life from a very balanced and thoughtful perspective, and I think some of that goes back to law school and how they’ve used the practice of law to share who they are. Much as it did for my family, the law school has created a community for me.”
Carol couldn’t be more pleased to hear such comments.
“I am just reaping all the benefits in watching these young people come up and become lawyers,” she said. “I think law is the most rewarding profession.”