When Matthew Harrison speaks to young people about career choices, he advises them to focus on what they are passionate about and success will follow. Resisting the temptation to follow only monetary compensation is a difficult philosophy, but one that has influenced Matthew to become the head of his own business law practice in Phoenix, Arizona.
From his early university days, Matthew had an interest in both business and the law, choosing to focus on law because of the stimulating nature of debate and advocacy. Following this passion led him into the County Attorney’s Office where he learnt to prosecute a range of interesting cases from minor traffic issues to first-degree murder.
With years of valuable courtroom experience behind him, Matthew decided it was time to step away from criminal law and indulge his other passion for the business that he first discovered as a student. After a few years in a commercial litigation law firm, he identified a niche within the Arizona economy for a lawyer focused on partnering closely with businesses to solve all their day-to-day legal requirements.
His practice, Harrison Law PLLC, represents businesses and their owners, meaning he gets involved in various areas of law, including commercial contracts, property disputes, real estate purchases/ leases, construction, civil litigation, and environmental and natural resource law.
He says: “I enjoy advising businesses on how to avoid problems, which is interesting because you don’t know what’s going to come through the door next. A client might come in and say they have a problem with an employee, then next they might come in and say they have an issue with a contract, or a new agreement needs to be drafted. I have to switch hats immediately.”
“I like to solve a problem before it occurs, but sometimes that’s not possible and I need to shift into litigation mode. The goal is to provide advice and counsel and solve issues that might occur, but if litigation is required, we have the requisite skills and experience.”
Matthew is growing the practice slowly, employing two attorneys, two paralegals, and two legal assistants, as he assesses the market for his firm’s boutique services. He remains flexible around the type of clients he represents.
“The majority of our clients are medium-sized corporations, with asset values in the seven or eight-figure area, although we do help start-ups with good potential. We also have a few multistate or international clients with assets in the billions of dollars, who come to us if they have something Arizona-specific that they need to handle. This business is built via personal relationships and previous evidence of our abilities.”
Most of his large, multi-state, and international clients are referrals from similar clients who have experienced successful interactions and outcomes from representation.
Matthew is positive about prospects for the Arizona economy and sees plenty of inter-state and international investment on the horizon, particularly in the tech space, as Arizona benefits from several Silicon Valley-based companies and start-ups who have chosen to move to Arizona for business reasons.
“Entrepreneurs are looking away from Silicon Valley, and Arizona is one of those places they are focused on.”
“A lot of tech companies are starting to move to Arizona because of our location and our favourable corporate environment. As a result, several start-ups and satellite companies that feed off the larger companies have also started to establish themselves, which is encouraging. Entrepreneurs are looking away from Silicon Valley, and Arizona is one of those places they are focused on.”
Matthew is also keen to grow his international client base and has utilised IR Global’s network to help international businesses looking to invest in Arizona and Arizona-based clients looking to expand into markets outside US borders.
Away from his day-to-day work, Matthew maintains links to his old life as a Deputy County Attorney, by holding a position of Judge Pro-Tempore for Maricopa County. Once or twice a month, when the assigned judge is unavailable, Matthew steps in and hears cases in both the civil and criminal courts. In addition, he also acts as a voluntary mediator in settlement conferences for the court.
Elsewhere, he sat as an advisor to the Williams Airforce Base Restoration Board, a project designed to re-evaluate old military bases for civilian use. The outcome was a multi-use site with a private commercial airfield called the Williams Gateway Airport (now Phoenix-Mesa) and a polytechnic campus linked to Arizona State University.
Outside of the office, Matthew tries hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance, despite the fact he is growing his own firm. His children are now at an age where the family can enjoy the outdoors lifestyle that Arizona has to offer, with mountain biking, trail hiking and zip-lining firm favourites. Travel is also high on the Harrison family’s list of priorities and Matthew was able to take them on a holiday to Singapore and Thailand last year, that tied in nicely with IR Global’s Asian conference.
When he gets some free time of his own, Matthew also likes to strum a few chords on his guitar and indulge his interest in digital photography.
The desire to follow his passions kicked off during his student years has taken shape nicely, allowing Matthew to earn his living solving problems across both of his primary interests (business and law). Hearing him sum up why he made the switch to Harrison Law PLLC, explains exactly why the next part of his career is likely to be even more successful than the last.
“Getting corporate judgments in the millions of dollars is great, but I know I derive the most personal enjoyment from helping businesses grow, rather than winning lawsuits.’
“I am most successful as an attorney when I can help a business to succeed; that is where I gain the most satisfaction. Getting corporate judgments in the millions of dollars is great, but I know I derive the most personal enjoyment from helping businesses grow, rather than winning lawsuits.”