Dewey Pegno & Kramarsky / Q&A with Angela Harris
Angela focuses on complex commercial litigation with more than a decade of experience in federal and state court and before arbitral tribunals, including discovery, oral argument, written motion practice, trial and hearing practice, and appeals. She is also experienced in internal investigations on behalf of public companies. Angela takes a practical approach to assist clients in reaching their goals, whether through pre-dispute resolution or discovery, motion practice, and trial. She was previously named as a Super Lawyers Rising Star. Before joining DPK in 2012, Angela was a litigation associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, and in the St. Louis office of Bryan Cave LLP.
In addition to her litigation practice, Angela has a passion for improving educational access and learning. From 2015-2019, she worked for Keeling & Associates, a consulting firm that works to improve outcomes and experiences at colleges and universities through strategic planning, program reviews, and advising.
Angela took time to answer a few questions about her career, her two young children and her speedy nocturnal pet.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone who just started their career?
You are the architect of your own career, but it requires work. Find a mentor and start networking as early as possible. Talk to more experienced attorneys about their jobs and explore things that interest you. Volunteer to work on cases with people you’d like to work with or in practice areas you’d like to know more about. The day-to-day work of law can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to forget about your long-term trajectory.
What was your first job?
I started working in the service industry when I was 14 years old, as a server in a dining hall in a retirement home. Basically ever since, I’ve worked in service industries—from waiting tables for 5 years through college and before law school to serving clients as a litigator.
Any tips for a successful meeting/hearing?
Zoom and remote calls are not going away, at least anytime soon. Preparation is key: Besides testing your equipment to make sure people can see and hear you, you should have a concise agenda (preferably shared with participants ahead of time), discuss who on your team is doing what during the call, and practice cuing others so you can smoothly transition from one person to another (especially when everyone is on mute). Clients appreciate when you come prepared and are efficient (which saves them both time and money).
What has been the most rewarding part of your career to date?
There really is nothing better than helping a client achieve their goals. Sometimes that takes the form of negotiating a client out of a sticky situation before litigation begins, sometimes it is settling a case on terms favorable to your client, and sometimes it’s winning a motion or at trial. Litigation can be costly, time-consuming, and, especially for individuals and small businesses, emotional. Helping clients navigate that process to a successful conclusion is truly rewarding.
What made you want to be a lawyer?
For as long as I could remember, my parents told me I should be a lawyer because I loved to argue. While, in retrospect, they were right (don’t tell them!) what ultimately made me agree with them was a Communications Law course I took as a journalism major in college. I loved the challenge of applying somewhat murky standards to different sets of facts and figuring out the “right” answer to really hard questions. And I have always loved to write.
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
I love brief writing. I view it almost like assembling a puzzle: marshaling the facts in a persuasive way, finding creative legal arguments, and telling your client’s story in a clear and convincing way. A lot of work goes into making the conclusion seem obvious!
What’s your favorite food? Chocolate.
Do you have any talents or hobbies? I have two young children so don’t have much time for hobbies these days but I do enjoy baking and decorating cakes and cupcakes for my family. Thanks to YouTube videos and practice, I’ve been told they look professional (but most important, they taste good).
Do you have any pets?
While I grew up with dogs and would love to have one someday, I can’t handle the commitment at this stage in my life. So we have a snail, named Shelly by my children. Although I thought the idea of a snail was gross at first, I am the person who takes care of him and finds him most fascinating. He’s nocturnal, moves shockingly fast when we feed him, and falls asleep in the strangest positions.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night owl. Always have been.
Are you a coffee or tea person?
Because of my night owl tendencies, coffee all the way.
What’s your favorite season?
I loved fall as a kid because of the anticipation of a new school year and my birthday. Now I love it for the crisper air and the fall activities with my family—apple picking, pumpkin carving, and Halloween.
What three items would you take with you to a deserted island?
An umbrella; a great, long novel (I’m particularly fond of historical fiction, intergenerational family sagas, and books that remind me of growing up in the Midwest); and my glasses (I can’t see more than 6 inches in front of my face without glasses or contacts!).