He represented the plaintiffs.
She was a defense attorney.
They were on either sides of asbestos cases in Madison County in 2005.
Somehow, Chris and Mary Jo Guinn still got together.
They'd seen each other around the courthouse. They exchanged emails over cases. That was it until Mary Jo got the nerve to strike up a conversation.
"We talked about stuff that wasn't case-related," said Mary Jo, 40, of O'Fallon."We talked about my daughter from a previous marriage."
It was a conversation friends would have.
"I was trying to be mindful of my ethical obligations as an attorney," Chris said. "It took a while to sink in. I'm amazed I didn't drive her away. I kept it business professional for a while."
Something clicked during that conversation.
The next email Mary Jo sent invited Chris to lunch at Errato's in Edwardsville. It was December 2005.
"It was out of character for me," she said. "I wrote, 'Nice to talk to you today.'
He got the message.
"By the time we went out to lunch, I'd figured it out," said Chris. "I reallzed it wasn't just a business lunch."
What made Mary Jo ask Chris out?
"I guess he just appeared kind," she said. "He didn't appear arrogant and was always respectful in his correspondence. I think once I spoke to him, I realized that the appearance of a kind person was right on. I believed it then, and I know it to be true today."
The Guinns, who married Dec. 23, 2006, live in O'Fallon with their four children, Jessica Kuca, 10; Ava Guinn, 5; Shea Guinn, 4; and Braden Guinn, 15 months.
The moment they considered dating they informed their respective law firms. She was with Heyl-Royster, Voelker and Allen in Edwardsville. He's still with Simmons Law Firm in Alton.
"We both had to be up front with our employers," said Chris, 40, who grew up in St. Charles, Mo. "Before our first date, we let our bosses know. My firm is kind of the biggest plaintiff firm in town. She was with a big defendent firm."
Arguing different sides of the asbestos issue was not an issue in their personal lives.
"We both view it as being on the side of right," said Mary Jo. "Neither of us have tunnel vision. He can see the defense perspective. I can see the plaintiff perspective."
Mary Jo gave up her asbestos practice, switching to insurance and medical malpractice.
Early in their relationship, they knew their feelings were mutual.
"We had both been married before," said Chris. "We were a little older, in our early 30s, You know what you want, what you don't want."
They got engaged in September 2006.
"He proposed on the 18th hole of Pebble Beach golf course," said Mary Jo. "It overlooks the ocean. He had the ring in his pocket the whole time. After he had putt through, I was going to finish the round."
She walked toward the hole and Chris was on his knee.
"I thought he was checking where the ball was. As I walked up, he had the ring in his hand. He asked me to marry him."
Their adventure continues.
"It's one of those situations that I believe was meant to be," said Mary Jo. "We are partners in everything we do and through the many stressful events that have happened. I lost my dad in May. Mom had a brain tumor. There have been illnesses in the family. We had three kids."
She supports his career.
"His clients are all very sick people," said Mary Jo, "people who won't make it through this illness, mesothelioma. It's interesting to watch him. He's such a caring person. He gets so attached to these people. We have been to countless funerals."
Mary Jo has stayed home since Ava was born in 2007.
"She had missed a lot with Jessica because she was still working," Chris said. "We talked about it when Ava was on the way. I supported her both ways. She has both a nursing degree and a law license. She had worked hard to get to where she was at. She opted to stay home."
Mary Jo has no regrets.
She has more than enough to do, including a bow and ribbon business called Blue Sky Bows, and she is one of three writers of a wine blog, stayathome winos.blogspot.com. She keeps her nursing and law licenses current, just in case.
"You dress up, go to work," Mary Jo said talking about her career then; her life, now. "It's an adult atmosphere. Going from that to this, you have to do an identity adjustment. You don't identify as a lawyer any more."
She figures people look at her and wonder. Four years of nursing school? Four years of law school? Now, you stay home?
"It can get pretty crazy around here," she said on a weekday afternoon. The older kids were in school and the baby -- who may have an ear infection --was taking a nap.
"I have never regretted it once. I still nurse every day and I still argue. I just don't win as often as I used to."