Professor Harris taught the legal writing and research component during both semesters of my 1L year at UC Hastings College of the Law. Prior to attending law school, I had been serving as a United States Naval Officer for just shy of five years. Consequently, I could not have been more unprepared to step back into an academic environment. Professor Harris’ class is the reason I succeeded my first year in law school. He fostered a learning environment that promoted candid conversation and he never “hid the ball” from us. I knew what was expected of me and how to meet those expectations. Professor Harris provided numerous examples, guides, and one-on-one sessions. I brought the military discipline to the table and he provided the path to follow towards success.
Further, Professor Harris took time to offer guidance on our overall approach to law school. First, he provided detailed timelines of when we should begin outlining and practice exams. Second, he regularly checked in with us to ensure we were meeting our deadlines. Lastly, he provided an hour-by-hour guide to final reading period tailored to our class exam schedule. This is not common!
On a personal note, Professor Harris did not give up on me after I received the lowest grade on my first practice assignment. I vividly remember the pit feeling in my stomach when I saw all the red marks on my first memo. My fears about being out of my league and not good enough seemed to be coming true. Professor Harris called me and told me that I belonged and saw potential in me. That support is uncommon and propelled me to turn me on the path towards success.
The luckiest day of my law school career was getting assigned Professor Harris as my first semester legal research and writing professor. He gave me the blueprint for success, and I have lived the 1L dream. Implementing Professor Harris’ plans, I Am Jur’d two classes in the Fall Semester, received a 4.0 GPA in the Spring (resulting in a decline in my GPA), was the top student in my section, and finished ranked #6 in my 1L class at the end of the 1L year. During the summer, I received offers to transfer to Harvard, Berkeley, and UCLA, and I have chosen to continue my law school career at Harvard Law. I owe my success and future opportunities to Professor Harris’ incredible teaching style and mentorship. – Matt Balich, Hastings 1L, Harvard 2L and 3L