McGeorge School of Law

Timothy Harris ’96 practices real estate law to build on Seattle’s culture

June 2, 2020

The most professionally fulfilled lawyers Timothy Harris ’96 knows are those who practice the areas of the law that they find most interesting and stimulating.

“The happiest lawyers knew what they wanted to do, patent law or what have you, and have had the most successful careers,” said Harris, an assistant city attorney for the city of Seattle.

For Harris and other McGeorge School of Law alumni, serving the public as city attorneys provides a continuous source of ever-changing cases with every day offering a new opportunity.

“I’ve always been attracted to land use, real estate and property law,” said Harris, who works in Seattle’s Contracts and Utilities Section. “It’s a really important and interesting area of the law. My dad was in real estate. To me, the story of the land and the law associated with it is the story of Western civilization — it’s the story of racial discrimination, self-built success — and continues to be a means through which people achieve wealth.”

Harris represents the city’s utilities on all aspects of real estate uses, acquisitions and dispositions. He also advises Seattle’s leaders on public works contracting and environmental compliance.

He enjoys digging through old deeds and property records to see how Seattle has changed.

“My work is important in that it creates property records and helps the culture of the city develop,” he said. Harris also enjoys sharing his interest and expertise with students at the Seattle University School of Law, where he is an adjunct professor.

“I had fabulous teachers at McGeorge, including Distinguished Professor Michael Vitiello and Professors George Gould and Stephen G. McCaffrey — and basically learned this area of law well thanks to them,” he said. “It’s always a delight when I run into McGeorge grads — we share stories about the professors we loved.”

He interacts with a number of alumni as a member of the Dean’s Council, established by Dean Gordon D. Schaber to recognize alumni, faculty, staff, parents and friends who support the law school at a leadership level.

Harris counsels law students not to be afraid of seeking bar association and other organizations to learn about the fields of law that most interest them, and to gain experience in related areas.

Prior to joining the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, Harris handled real estate matters for the Ports of Tacoma, Olympia, Port Townsend and Camas-Washougal, and worked as an advocate for housing issues in Olympia. At McGeorge, he was the chief articles editor of the McGeorge Law Review, on the Moot Court Honors Boards, and a member of the Traynor Academic Honor Society. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in rhetoric from the University of California, Davis.