Legal “Power Duo”
Alycia Horn and Joe Tucker Jr. fit the new paradigm of the high-power professional couple: both lawyers at the top of their game and anxious to give back by providing educational opportunities for others.
Yet they are yin and yang. She is a fastidious professional, follows the rules, takes perfect notes. He is spontaneous, speaks eloquently off the cuff, writes nothing down. “I’m too busy reading and thinking,” he explains. He runs (marathons); she walks. He is high energy; she is laid back; his wheels get turning late in the day; she is a morning person. Currently they work in neighboring buildings— he in the Suburban Station Building where he heads his own law firm, The Tucker Law Group, and she in the new Comcast Building where she is a senior counsel at the ever expanding telecommunications giant—but they never see each other during the workday and come and go to their home in Mt. Airy on different schedules.
They met in 1986, their first year at Temple Law School, and married a year after graduating. Her version: “We met during orientation. I immediately felt like I already knew him, like he was an old friend. But from the day we met, I couldn’t get rid of him. Gradually, my feelings for him turned into something else.” His version: “I was talking to my sister on the telephone when I spotted a female student walking by. ‘I just saw the woman I’m going to marry,’ I said into the receiver. It took three months to get her to go on a date with me.”
Horn recalls, “We were informal study partners originally and then during our third year we were trial advocacy partners. He had no notes, and didn’t appear to be prepared. I had everything written out in meticulous detail. I opened, he closed. It was so frustrating. He was brilliant. He’s the smartest person I know. He can wax poetic about anything. And he received the Best Classroom Performance Award.”
What the couple did have in common was an outstanding education even prior to their law school careers. Tucker went to Philadelphia magnet schools, Masterman and Central High, and then on to Howard University. Horn went to the suburban Shipley School and the University of Virginia. Both also participated in the AFNA (American Foundation for Negro Affairs) program which mentored black students beginning in the 8th grade to prepare them for careers in law, business and medicine. From their early exposure at the DA’s office, to court, and to private attorneys’ offices, they both knew early on that they would become attorneys. Horn and Tucker had, however, decidedly different starting points. He came from a low-income, North Philadelphia blue-collar home where college did not register on the family’s radar. What he did absorb was his parents’ ethic of hard work. She, on the other hand, came from a middle-class background in West Philadelphia; her father was a teacher and her parents demanded academic excellence of their children.
Tucker started working at a very early age; he cleaned bathrooms in the factory where his mother worked. For the first time, he says, “I appreciated how hard my mother worked and then came home to care for four children.” He also had other disagreeable work experiences such as applying hot tar to roofs in the summertime to pay his way through college. Then, with law school still in his sights, Tucker worked in New York City as a CPA for two years. Recruited by then-dean Carl Singley and with a partial scholarship in hand, he returned to Philadelphia. He landed a job teaching accounting to Temple undergraduates and another job as a researcher at a law firm in New Jersey. “I continued to have at least two jobs throughout my law school career. But imagine what it was like after I had been living in New York on my own, to come home and have to sleep in my childhood bunk bed,” he says. “I was also short on cash, so I walked to school from 24th and Allegheny to save the subway fare.”
After graduation, Tucker worked for some of the city’s top law firms as a litigator before striking out on his own. Now he heads a 10-lawyer firm that represents Fortune 500 companies including Kraft Foods and Shell Oil and several universities including Temple. The firm also specializes in employment discrimination.
Horn also was a litigator for a big Philadelphia firm, had a stint as a stay-at-home mom, and joined Comcast in 2007. “It’s the greatest job in the world,” she says from her office “sitting high in the clouds.” She works in the firm’s cable legal group in support of the marketing and advertising department. “I’m proud to be part of an organization that is a good corporate citizen,” she says. The couple mentors many students through a myriad of organizations. One such organization is the national group ABC (A Better Chance). In the Philadelphia area, ABC targets 8-10 academically talented but economically challenged boys, places them in a group home in the Lower Merion School District where they attend high school, and mentors them through their college careers. Horn and Tucker developed an especially close relationship with one of the students, Deashawn, and invited him to live with them. They refer to the now 30-year-old as their son. They also have a biological daughter, Devon, who is 14; their family portraits tell the story of their love and devotion to both children.
Most recently, they have created at Temple the Alycia Horn and Joe H. Tucker, Jr. Scholarship. This is the second scholarship they have endowed (the first is the Carl Singley Scholarship); their most recent scholarship provides tuition for a second or third-year BLSA (Black Law Student Association) member to continue the school’s commitment to racial diversity. “I struggled financially throughout my law school career and we hope to alleviate that problem for someone in similar circumstances,” Tucker explains. “We also hosted a Temple BLSA reception at our house this past year and there is nothing the school asks us to do that we won’t do.”
“When I think about it,” he adds, “how could I not love the school that gave me my wife.”