Career Paths: Tamra Harris ’17L
Tamra Harris is originally from Tremonton, Utah and obtained her bachelor’s degree in English from Weber State University. During law school, Tamra enjoyed training for marathons and competing in mock trial and moot court competitions.
Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area?
After graduation, I will be working in the litigation department of Miller & Martin’s Chattanooga office. I anticipate specializing in business litigation as well as general litigation including telecommunications, construction, and product liability cases. I hope to work on appellate cases as well.
Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work for a law firm?
I knew before law school that I wanted to work in private practice. I began working in law firms when I was in high school and continued throughout college and until I began law school in 2014. I love the team structure—working through different aspects of the litigation process. Law firms are mini communities, and it’s even better when you truly enjoy spending time with your colleagues.
Even though I knew I would end up in a firm, I split both of my summers. I spent half of my first summer with a judge in Washington, DC and half of my second summer volunteering at the Human Rights Commission in Nicaragua. I would encourage all students to take this opportunity to observe different legal careers, even if you know where you want to land. Diverse experiences will provide perspective in whatever career you eventually choose.
What role did the size and location of the firm play in the search and decision process?
Location was one of the biggest factors in my career search. I love being outdoors, and I love being part of a strong community. Chattanooga fulfills both with its breathtaking scenery and tight-knit community. Miller & Martin has about 150 lawyers throughout its three offices. For me, this size is small enough that I will know most of my colleagues and large enough that I will continually have challenging and interesting work.
Was there anything in your law school or summer job experience that confirmed this career choice?
I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was in the sixth grade. The only question was where? My summer experiences showed me that I can fulfill my passion of being an attorney while also holding on to other aspects of my life. Miller & Martin values family and community involvement. During my summer internships, I saw attorneys leaving the office at a decent hour to spend time with their families, and we even spent a day at a local summer school tutoring children. The fact that this is not only allowed, but encouraged, is huge for me. I feel so fortunate to have found a place where I can engage in interesting and challenging work but will also be able to live my life.
What classes do you think are helpful to take to prepare for your law firm job?
While I will likely begin my career in general litigation, I would like to eventually specialize in business litigation. To that end, I spent much of my second and third year of law school focusing on corporate classes and practicums, such as securities regulation, taxation, closely held businesses, publicly held businesses, international business transactions, the mergers and acquisitions practicum, and the business planning practicum. For me, these classes and practicums were necessary to give me a basic understanding of corporate law. To pick up the litigation end, I competed in as many mock trial and moot court competitions as possible and worked in the advanced administrative litigation black lung clinic. These combined have given me the foundation I need to follow my practice goals.
Can you describe your job search process?
I relied on W&L Law’s on-campus interview program. A professor reached out to me initially alerting me to this specific firm, and I know she eventually played a role in my obtaining a callback interview by recommending me to the interviewer (a former student of hers). It is crucial to use your connections. W&L Law has incredible resources for career placement, including alumni who are eager to hire W&L Law graduates and professors who have numerous contacts that they are willing to use. It truly is a team effort.