Visit Day to Wedding Day: An MSU Law Love Story

From a chance encounter to a lifelong promise, ’17 grads Jacob and Stephanie’s story started here.

It was March 22, 2014, and MSU College of Law was hosting a group of admitted students. Jacob Simon, ’17, was in attendance. Unbeknownst to him, so was his future wife.

“I noticed Stephanie long before she ever noticed me,” Jacob said, recalling the moment he first saw Stephanie Garris, ’17, seated two rows behind him in Professor Philip Pucillo’s Mock Civil Procedure course. He was in the front row. He tried to find a way to introduce himself during the visit day program, but the right opportunity never presented itself.

The two would meet that day, however briefly, on the top floor of the Shaw Ramp parking structure next to the Law College. She smiled and held the door open for him.

Flash forward to August of that same year: it’s Immersion Week, the first day of which fell on Jacob’s 22nd birthday. He and many of his new law school peers were living in Owen Hall on campus, including Stephanie who lived just a few doors down from him. To celebrate his birthday, Jacob invited her and other 1Ls out for a drink. She declined because of homework assigned that day, but presented him with her phone number instead.

The two began dating – officially – in January 2015. They shared the highs and lows of the law school journey together: the traditional Barrister’s Ball, final exams, internships, and graduation. They also made time to cheer on the Spartans at MSU football games and grab dinner together at Golden Wok.

Both come from families of lawyers. Jacob’s uncle, Caleb Simon, ’68, and his father, Jonathan Simon, ’83, are also alumni, having graduated from the Law College when it was known as Detroit College of Law. For him, becoming a lawyer was always the plan. Stephanie’s grandfather started his own practice in the 1950s and his three children, including her father, all became attorneys as well. They are both the first members of the third generation in their families to pursue legal careers.

They started in different 1L sections but had at least one class together during each following semester in law school. However, despite being in the same classes, they kept to their own routines. Jacob, just as he did at the visit day program, liked to have a seat up front, whereas Stephanie kept to “her seat” within each lecture hall.

I think that’s the moment when it all clicked for her and she turned around to see me already down on one knee with the ring.


The two graduated in 2017 and began studying for the Michigan Bar, separately for the most part but meeting occasionally at home base (the MSU Law Library) for weekend study sessions. Now, both have been in practice for a few years – Jacob practicing family law in Bloomfield Hills and Stephanie at her family’s law firm in Ann Arbor – and they’ve established themselves as members of the profession.

Not only that, Jacob and Stephanie have been heavily involved members of the MSU Law Alumni Association. Jacob serves on the Board for the group as well as the committee for the annual golf outing in East Lansing, and he certainly had big plans for the 2019 outing. The most important? Teeing up a diamond.

Ahead of the day, Jacob coordinated with MSU Law’s Advancement team to plan the proposal, taking advantage of the outing’s location in East Lansing and concocting a reason to stop by the Law College on the morning of the event.

“As we approached the law building that morning, I started traveling up to the top floor of Shaw Ramp. I explained to Stephanie that it was because I won’t get a ticket on the top floor,” Jacob said. “We got out of the car and the first thing I did was take in the view for a minute. From up there, you can see Spartan Stadium, Owen Hall, and the law school.

“We just kind of slowly made our way over to the door, and I let her open it and she was holding it open with her back to me,” he said, describing his recreation of the moment at the door they had shared on that long-ago visit day. “I think that’s the moment when it all clicked for her and she turned around to see me already down on one knee with the ring.”

The couple, who encountered each other by chance at the top of that parking ramp five years ago, left on this day engaged, bringing the story full circle.

A perfect spot – and even more perfect timing. The Monday following the Friday of the golf outing when Jacob proposed, construction began on the top floor of the parking ramp, making the moment truly meant to be.