Career Corner: Stuntwoman turned lawyer marries fellow UF Law grad
Christie Sanders Vetter (JD 10) had been set on fire, hit by cars, catapulted, flipped, twisted and turned. When she decided to trade in her 17-year career as a stuntwoman — doubling for actresses including Jessica Simpson and Hilary Duff — for a career as a student at UF Law, she knew her course correction was a dramatic one. “Here’s this girl who’s just getting run over by cars on ‘CSI: Miami’ last week and now I just got accepted into law school,” Christie said. “I am the living ‘Legally Blonde’ Elle Woods!”
Christie’s unconventional journey to UF Law certainly landed her in the right place at the right time. Just like Elle Woods, she won the heart of a man she met in law school — but, in her true nature, Christie pulled the stunt of her life to get him.
David Vetter (JD 84) stood in front of Professor Danny Sokol’s class on a Friday in October 2008 prepared to give a guest lecture. He was a role model for students in many ways, having excelled during his law school years, graduating at the top of his class, immediately landing a job and eventually finding himself at the largest publicly traded company in Florida, Tech Data. His keys to success in law school, he said, were working hard, putting time in, utilizing study groups and getting involved in organizations such as the Florida Law Review.
“I actually am one of those weird folks who really enjoyed my time in law school,” he said.
When he visited UF Law that day as general counsel and vice president of Tech Data he was entirely unaware of the blonde-haired stunt girl who’d stopped dead in her tracks upon entering the door. “I just was blown away by him,” Christie remembered.
David gave his talk and the class went to lunch. Before Christie knew it lunch was over and she was in her car driving home. She hadn’t even given him a business card, and she had a sinking feeling in her stomach about it. “I called my girlfriend and said, ‘I just met this amazing guy …’ ” Christie said. She remembered her friend’s response: “‘You’ve got to turn around!’”
Christie swung her car around in the middle of the street and floored it all the way back to UF Law. As she pulled in the parking lot, she saw Sokol and David drive in, too. She jumped out of the car and handed him her card, “My parents live in Tampa! I’m there all the time!” she said.
After a few emails exchanged between them, David and Christie went on a date.
As the saying goes, the rest is history. The Vetters have been married more than two years now. David proposed to Christie at a UF Law graduation party he hosted for her — just like in “Legally Blonde.”
Taking their dramatic story a step further, Christie applied and was accepted onto the TLC show, “Say Yes to the Dress,” shortly after. She flew into New York City with her mom, sisters and best friends and headed to Kleinfeld.
“They filmed me buying the dress,” Christie recalled, “a beautiful Pnina Tornai with Swarovski crystals — every girl’s dream!”
The Vetters married Oct. 8, 2011, at Carlouel Yacht and Family Beach Club on Clearwater Beach, complete with family, friends and TLC’s film crew. The dress shopping and wedding appeared on “Say Yes to the Dress” Dec. 22, 2011.
Nowadays, David serves as senior vice president and general counsel at Tech Data, where he welcomes the challenge to think on his feet and work with a team of lawyers and executives. Christie is a litigator for a small Tampa firm, Shawn Harrison Associates. The couple lives on the water in St. Petersburg and share a passion for staying active.
David still occasionally speaks at UF Law, most recently with legal futurist Richard Susskind as a panel member at the 2013 fall Marshall M. Criser Distinguished Lecture.
Although Christie loves performing, she retired from stunt work because she knew there was a “shelf life” that came with it; she was always only one injury away from being out of work, she said.
“You have to have the guts to get up and say, I’m going to do something different — and I don’t even know exactly what it’s going to be like to be a lawyer or go to law school. But I took a chance, and you just have to be willing in life to take chances no matter what it is that you’re doing.”
The Vetters’ tendency to take chances and go full throttle in the direction of their goals has proven to be a rewarding motto for the duo — after all, that’s how they found their happy ending.
“You always have to have an open mind,” Christie said, “because your next dream can be right around the corner.”