Alumni Spotlight: Still
undefeated Attorney Martin Harris
'84 has never lost a case
At the age of 38, Chicago labor lawyer Martin Harris '84 has compiled
a career record that rivals that of the late Rocky Marciano. The
legendary boxer retired from his sport in 1956 with a professional
record that still stands: 49 wins, 0 losses. Since Harris began
practicing law in 1987, the Beechwood, Ohio, native has never lost
a case. Ever. He's currently 510 and still going strong.
What's his secret? "Preparation, preparation, preparation,"
he laughs. "I never adopt a ëpaint by numbers' attitude.
Each case demands my total attention." And no, he doesn't pick
and choose those cases. He and his partners in the boutique firm
of Connelly Sheehan Moran defend only employment discrimination
cases. He counsels companies that are charged with any type of discrimination
(age, race, sex, disability) as well as wrongful discharge and the
like by their employees.
Serving as national employment counsel for high-profile Fortune
500 clients such as AIG, MetLife, and the Quaker Oats Company has
exposed Harris to work he finds challenging and, in some cases,
groundbreaking. Last year, he won an en banc case (filed by petition
and heard by all the judges) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
11th Circuit that established important rules about how courts should
treat subjective criteria, which is based on opinions and impressions.
"I take pride in creating a product that is persuasive and
excellent," he says.
Harris says he's "morally comfortable" with the work
he does for corporations. "I've never had a case go to summary
judgment or to trial in which I really believed the client violated
discrimination law. The case may not always be ëfair,' but
it is not discriminatory. In the cases where we conclude that there
was a problem, we tell clients. We have had employees reinstated."
Now about that record. Harris admits the pressure is definitely
on. He doesn't like to lose and works diligently on his clients'
behalf. But he's also "realistic enough to know that I'm not
going to go another 30 years without losing a case."
Or that he won't go down without a fight.
By Kathryn Levy Feldman '78
Kathryn Levy Feldman is a freelance writer in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.