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Know Your Lawyer: Mark Harrison of Harrisons

Know Your Lawyer: Mark Harrison of Harrisons

Issue 10.6
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An in-depth look at Mark Harrison of Harrisons covering his career path, education, and top projects as a lawyer as well as a few insights about his as a manager at work and as a person outside the office.

Career:

  • Potato Picker (GBP 1 per day!), 1973-1974
  • Loading 20-ton lorries with potato bags weighing 25.4 kilograms (GBP 2.30 per day), 1974-1975
  • Petrol Pump Attendant (GBP 6 per day), 1975-1975
  • Jeater Houses, Barman, 1975-1975
  • Carpet Cutter (Full daily wage which upset all the workers because we didn’t pay tax. Still got a scar on my right finger when I nearly severed the top off.), 1976-1978
  • Willey Hargrave (Leeds & London), Trainee (My job at 5:30 p.m. on Friday was to be the first in the Town Hall Tavern and get a round in for the Partners. Salary: GBP 2,200 per year. The last three months of training were in Garforth, a mining town, personally serving divorce papers on miners!), 1980-1982
  • The Swan (Evershed Walk, Acton (see Eversheds below!)), Barman (Had to get permission from the Law Society as it was not technically allowed to have two jobs whilst training but I was on GBP 3,200 per year in London! Live the high life on that?!?! Great Irish Pub taught me a lot about life.), 1981-1982
  • Linklaters, Solicitor – Aircraft & Shipping Financing (First time I was told “only use faxes – it’s quicker!”), 1982-1984
  • Francis & Crookenden, Solicitor (I needed to get into litigation so I learned every corridor and met every clerk in the High Court), 1984-1987
  • Robert Gore & Company, Partner – Commercial Litigation (I really cut my teeth there on heavyweight litigation), 1987-1991
  • Eversheds, Partner – Head of Central & Eastern Europe (Included training on how to use a computer keyboard! For lunch all the Partners would meet for pork pies and sandwiches in the boardroom.), 1991-1997
  • Harrisons, Principal, 1997-present

Education:

  • Keele University, BA Law & Economics with Philosophy & Mathematics, 1979
  • Chester College, Legal Professional Examination (First time the course was one year long. Only four law colleges then. Three in the South so all Northerners and Middlesbrough fans ended up at Chester. Lived above a butcher’s shop that used to give me free black pudding. Still have nightmares over those exams.), 1980

Favorites:

  • Out of office activity: Everyone knows me as a shy, incredibly introverted guy, lacking in self-confidence who has absolutely no idea about the nightlife of Belgrade or London, the bars, restaurants, clubs, partying, and likewise the shy guy in Porto Montenegro with his boat “The Full Monte” (As if!?!?). 
  • Quotes: “Carpe Diem”, “Life is not a dress rehearsal”, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”, “Never, ever, give up!” 
  • Movie: I have watched the final poker scene in Casino Royale about 100 times – my psychiatrist doesn’t know why! There’s just something about ultimately winning against all odds – a reflection of many times in my life?

Top 5 Projects:

  • Advising on the U.S. Steel Purchase of Sartid A.D. in 2003 – a milestone privatization of Serbia’s steel industry by a leading American Company. Mentor: U.S. Steel Chairman John Goodish – a visionary man;
  • Advising on Jugopetrol Kotor’s 2002 highly successful privatization of Montenegro’s energy company to Hellenic Petroleum;
  • Advising on Fiat’s 2008 purchase of the old Zastava car factory;
  • Advising on Porto Montenegro’s 2005 transformation from an old navy shipyard into the premier Marina & Tourist Resort in Montenegro. I’d call this deal “My Baby.” Mentor: Barrick Gold Chairman Peter Munk – (also) a visionary man;
  • Advising on Heineken’s 2008 purchase of MB Brewery and, subsequently, of Zajecar Brewery. 

What are a few things clients likely don’t know about you?

Harrison: The Chancellor at Keele University was Princess Margaret and at the Winter Ball in December 1975 I managed to get passed her security give her a big kiss and wished her Merry Christmas. Fortunately, I didn’t get expelled. I keep an aquarium in my office full of sharks which I name after lawyers in my little black book. I have an interest in Harry’s Bar in Belgrade. I love singing Frank Sinatra songs including My Way and New York, New York.

What would you say was the most challenging project you ever worked on and why?

Harrison: I have a place in North Yorkshire, God’s own county and since March 2021 I have been acting pro-bono to oppose a planning application to build a mega egg factory nearby that would destroy peoples’ way of life. We had the first application refused but we now face an appeal on July 25, 2023.               

And what was your main takeaway from it?

Harrison: Giving help to a community and ordinary humans in opposing an industrial giant with loads of money is so satisfying when you see how it positively affects people’s human lives. The true human face of law and how to use it. Erin Brockovich and Dark Waters.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself fresh out of law school?

Harrison: Treat everyone the same. Never believe people are stupid. Question everything. Be commercial. Common sense is key and get to be on good terms with the Managing Partner’s Secretary (to cover your back). But at the end of the day what happens to you is all down to fate.

This article was originally published in Issue 10.6 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here

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