Jenner & Block

Long-Time Jenner & Block Partner Donald Harris Passes Away After Battle With Cancer

CHICAGO, February 24, 2016 – Jenner & Block Partner, former firm Managing Partner and nationally recognized trial lawyer Donald R. Harris died on February 23, after a lengthy battle with multiple myeloma.  He was 77.  For more than 50 years, Mr. Harris was a trial lawyer at Jenner & Block, where he represented a variety of clients in major trial work that helped to shape the legacy of the international law firm.  
After serving in the U.S. Army as a First Lieutenant, Mr. Harris joined Jenner & Block (then known as Thompson, Raymond, Mayer & Jenner) in 1963.  He remained at the firm until his retirement in 2013.  He was, above all things, a trial lawyer.  Throughout his career, he tried nearly 100 cases for Jenner & Block’s global and pro bono clients in state and federal courtrooms across the United States with an array of Jenner & Block alumni – Albert E. Jenner Jr., Philip W. Tone, John C. Tucker, Jerold S. Solovy and many others.  In 1980, Mr. Harris was elected a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a prestigious invitation-only honor that is limited to no more than 1 percent of the bar.
“Best of the best,” said firm Chairman Anton “Tony” R. Valukas.  “But, Don would never tell you he was the best lawyer in the courtroom.  Instead, that reality would sneak up on you after you spent time watching him handle a difficult, complex matter for our clients.  I have never met a more honest lawyer, both in his professional and personal life, or someone with more integrity.  It was an honor being Don’s partner, and he will be missed.”  
Those sentiments are shared by a long list of lawyers that Mr. Harris mentored throughout his career.  His partner, Barbara S. Steiner, said, “Don was a role model, a mentor and a friend.  He supported women lawyers long before it was politically correct to do so.  I am grateful for all that he taught me.  I am a better lawyer because of Don.”  
In addition to his trial skills, Mr. Harris also led Jenner & Block’s efforts  to develop its network in Japan, where he visited more than 100 times.  Although born and raised in Iowa and passionate about his alma mater, The University of Iowa, Mr. Harris developed a deep affection for the Japanese culture and the many Japanese friends and clients that he represented over the years.  
“Don Harris was a first-rate trial lawyer who never lost his appreciation for the fact that fierce, creative advocacy does not require us to compromise civility and integrity,” said Terrence J.  Truax, Jenner & Block’s managing partner.  “He was a master of the spoken and written word, particularly when persuasion demanded brevity.  He was also a terrific mentor and friend.  As can be said of so many in Don's generation at Jenner & Block, he mattered to this law firm.  We are better because we have been able to call him our partner.”
In addition to his wife, Sharon, Mr. Harris is survived by four children:  Beverly (Steve) Radis, Lincolnshire, IL; Scott Harris, Vernon Hills, IL; Colonel Bradley (Teresa) Foster, Northville, MI; Lindi (Steve) Strobel, Libertyville, IL; and eight grandchildren, Cameron and Jordan Radis, Eric, Adam and Kyle Strobel, Claire (Morgan) Veraluz, and Conor and Anna Foster.
The family requests that memorial gifts be directed to the following fund that Mr. Harris and his wife established in 2013 at his beloved home of the Hawkeyes: Donald R. and Sharon K. Harris Scholarship Fund, The University of Iowa Law School Foundation, 1 West Park Road, Iowa City, IA 52244.
A service honoring Mr. Harris’ life will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 28, at the offices of Jenner & Block, 353 N. Clark St., Chicago, Illinois.