Charles E. Harris II, Esq.

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Charles E. Harris II, Esq.
Partner
Mayer Brown LLP
Chicago
Age: 39

Charles E. Harris II had aspirations of becoming a science professor, but as a graduate student, he discovered that he did not enjoy spending long hours in the research lab. In his quest to identify a new career path, he found that he could leverage his research experience as an attorney. “Practicing the scientific method teaches you to be very analytical,” he says. Harris earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina Central University, respectively, and a Juris Doctor at Cleveland Marshall School of Law. He spent a year as a judicial law clerk for federal judge David D. Dowd Jr., of the Northern District of Ohio, before joining Mayer Brown LLP in 2004. Today, Harris is a partner in the firm, one of few Black people to rise to that rank in Mayer Brown’s 100-plus year history.  It’s an accomplishment in which Harris takes great pride. “Being Black in a law firm, it’s very difficult to progress,” he says. “But I always had confidence in my abilities.” While he specializes in complex commercial litigation and arbitrations, as a licensed patent attorney and environment toxicologist he has been involved in patent infringement lawsuits and litigated toxic tort disputes. 

Harris stays fo-cused on his work, avoiding distractions. It’s advice he received as a teenager starting his first job. “My dad took me my first day and said, ‘When you go in there, just do your work and just come home at the end of the day,’” he says. “That’s how I live my life.” Harris is especially passionate about working with children and young adults. “It’s important to get them at an early age,” he says. “We’ve got to help our people grow.”