SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- It sounds like a premise for a sitcom, but two San Antonio police officers, with 25 years experience apiece, are about to embark on a new path and open a law firm together.
"It's going to be very similar; the serving and protecting carries over," said Lt. Michael King. "We're just trading in our gun belts for briefcases."
The trade-in will be on a part-time basis for now, as both King and Det. Timothy Quinn will keep their full-time jobs with SAPD and work the maximum allowable 24 hours a week as lawyers.
Quinn and King were in different cadet classes, but both joined SAPD in 1988. It wasn't until 20 years later that they had their first conversation -- in a classroom at St. Mary's University while attending law school at night.
Neither can pinpoint the exact conversation that led them to go into practice together, or who came up with the idea.
"Taking classes together and seeing how we worked together in a law classroom environment, that's how the relationship formed," King said. "It didn't form from our relationship as police officers because we didn't know each other. We met for the first time in class."
Quinn graduated in four years, while King joked that at six-and-a-half years he holds the record for longest tenure of any St. Mary's law student.
"My daughter has graduated high school, college, got her master's, and is in her first year as a teacher at Sunshine Cottage," King said of the time it's taken him to finish the program. "My son married, got on at the fire department, got his first promotion and we've had four grandchildren since -- all in the time that I've been here."
King officially graduated this December while Quinn graduated in May 2012 and has been practicing part-time since then.
By their count, a total of four SAPD officers have graduated from the St. Mary's law school and a fifth still is enrolled.
"We're batting a thousand when it comes to bar passage rate on the first attempt," King said. "And that was a big stress on me -- after the first three, I didn't want to be the first to fail."
To ensure his success, King took 12 weeks vacation to study for the bar; Quinn took off six weeks.
Their roles as peace officers make practicing criminal law out of the question as a conflict of interest, which, along with being raised by single mothers, are reasons they cited for gravitating toward practicing family law.
"Because I've been a police officer for so long, I know some of the issues that can come up when legal issues are left to fester and aren't properly addressed," Quinn said. "And that's when the police have to get involved -- when people aren't following the visitation plan laid out by the court or not paying their child support."
Their superiors, both said, made a point to be accommodating to their scheduling needs while going through the program. Still, some of the harshest critics were police officer peers who felt attorneys are "just out for the money," Quinn said.
"But having gone through law school, we can see both sides of the fence a little better now," he said. "We're almost liaisons between those worlds in some cases now."
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