Partner Folger, Rubinoff LLP.
Harris was called to the Bar in 1994. Since then, he has headed up a regulatory department in a public company with over 600 employees, engaged in private practice and raised venture capital to co-create a revolutionary consumer-friendly product. In 2001 Harris was nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year (Ernst and Young, Entrepreneur of the Year Awards). Over the past several years, Harris has focused mainly on the representation of Private Career Colleges and, more recently, private Degree Granting institutions and private schools. He is particularly focused on regulatory compliance and government accountability to the private post-secondary education sector.
Describe yourself in 50 words or less.
Unfair question, New College! But life isn’t fair so here’s a stab: If you believe my 4 year old, I’m “old;” but young at heart; a family man, loyal, passionate about my profession; wicked tennis serve, crappy backhand; naively committed to changing the world… and tall – who would deny this?
What was New College like when you came?
From what I can see, and I now have a frame of reference as an experienced education lawyer, the people at New College are as caring and committed as they ever were – but with a stronger alumni and mentorship program. They wear the U of T moniker proudly. They should.
Sally Walker, I’m sure countless students remember you fondly as someone behind the Registrar’s desk who was passionate about getting students through. I am just one of them. I was debt strapped then; I am a partner in downtown law firm now. I could not have done this without the people at New College. Infrastructure around the campus has modernized. Oh, and er, uh, hair is a little shorter than it was in the 80’s!
What are your fondest memories from your time at New College?
I was not in residence so my experience may not count as much. But my most memorable moments were, don’t laugh, eating French Fries from the nearby chip wagon outside of New College. Fries go a long way on a budget! One can get quite philosophical on fries and a cup of coffee.
Was there anyone in particular at New College (staff, student or faculty) who had a strong influence on your life or made a lasting impression on you?
Sally Walker, Ruth Norton, and Professor Dennis W. Magill. All seriously committed people. Passionate about students, student life, student achievement, and student welfare.
How did your academic and social experience at the University/College prepare you for life and your career?
U of T is second to none in the world. I met some of the brightest and most interesting people here long before I attended law school elsewhere. The integrated community at U of T has a way of creating graduates with Emotional Quotient (“EQ”) and with Intelligence Quotient (“IQ”). The school is known for the latter, but don’t discount the power of the former on the lives of graduates.
Tell us about some of the lessons you learned and how valuable they are today?
1) Pursue your objectives with tunnel vision, ruthlessly. 2) Rely on your support network, including mentors, fellow students, instructors, family, friends—anyone who will listen. 3) Don’t chew gum and talk at the same time: you’ll get a “D”.
What was important to you then – what is important now?
Then: getting into law school and pursuing my chosen profession. Now: spending time with my wife and children, and my dog (Claudia Sniffer) whenever I can.
What are your major accomplishments and who had the most influence on your Career?
Winning several important regulatory cases against the government, becoming a partner in a downtown law firm, and authoring a loose-leaf service (book) in my chosen practice area were all professional milestones. My best accomplishments ever are my beautiful wife and three children. Ditto in terms of who had the most influence.
In your personal or professional life, what are you most looking forward to?
Professional life: retiring… five years after I die. I love what I do. Personally: my wife and children’s lasting happiness and prosperity.
Do you have any final comments?
Is the chip wagon still there?