They’re highly regarded in the St. Louis law community, as well as by former clients who keep in touch for years with cards and family photos. She’s been practicing family law for more than three decades; he was a family court judge for 26 years before joining her law firm in 2002. Impressive longevity, indeed, but Susan and Sam Hais seem to know the secret to successful long-term partnerships: The couple just celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary.
Hais, Hais, Goldberger & Coyne, which Susan began in 1979 as a solo practitioner, is devoted exclusively to family law. While some couples might wonder about working side-by-side with a spouse, Susan says there are many advantages. “Family law often deals with gender issues, so of course, it’s good to have a male perspective. But for us, in particular, what’s really nice is that Sam also sees things through a judge’s eyes,” she says. “He can look at a case and say If I were the judge, this is what I would have done.” It helps us understand what approach might produce the most desirable results for our clients.”
Sam is equally enthusiastic about Susan’s perspective and knowledge. “We trust each other’s motives, experience and judgment implicitly,” he says. “Family law deals with the most serious of human interaction, and I feel tremendously fortunate to have the person I trust most in the world right at my side.” After so many years together, he adds, they can almost finish each other’s sentences. “We understand how the other one thinks, so we don’t need to go into lengthy explanations. In fact, I’ll frequently go into one of my long explanations and Susan will just give me that look that says I know, Sam, I know. It reminds me that I don’t always need to explain everything to a fare-thee-well.”
Although the practice of family law can be stressful, the couple agrees that it also is very rewarding. “I have so many reminders, so often,” Susan says. “One former client sends me a new school picture of his daughter every year, so I can see her growing up. He always adds a note, thanking me: If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have had all this time with my daughter.”
For Sam, who was a ‘charter member’ of the family court when the Missouri legislature created the court in the early ’90s, the personal interaction is the best part of the job. “There’s a genuine feeling of warmth and appreciation you get from clients when you’re fortunate enough to achieve a really successful result for them,” he explains. “They know you care about them, you’re listening to them and you’re doing your utmost to achieve justice for them. That’s the great reward, the client contact.”
It is somehow appropriate that a family law firm would include not just one, but three married couples on the legal team. “We have Joe Lambson and his wife, Julie Hixson-Lambson, and Amy Dennis and her husband, Robert,” notes Susan. It makes for a harmonious practice, she adds. “We’re a big family, dedicated to helping other families.”