Ellen Harrison, Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
How long have you been working for your current company?
Since September 1, 2000
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I was recruited by Shaw Pittman (which merged with Pillsbury Winthrop) from Morgan Lewis & Bockius where I was a partner in the Tax Section specializing in estate planning. I joined Morgan Lewis when Cohen & Uretz, a “tax boutique”, merged into Morgan Lewis. I joined Cohen & Uretz in 1979 after spending two years at HUD. Prior to that, I was a stay-at-home mom for a couple of years. In 1973-74, between children, I worked part-time at Covington & Burling and at another law firm in Philadelphia.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
I was privileged to address the Senate Finance Committee in 1996 in connection with consideration of an expatriation tax proposal.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
Billing rates have made legal services out of reach for many people and make it hard to deliver a first-class product at a reasonable price.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
Because my children are grown, this is not as much of an issue for me.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
Carlyn McCaffrey encouraged me to become active in professional associations, particularly ACTEC, which have been rewarding. But for her support and encouragement, I don’t think I would have accomplished as much.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
Only on rare occasions.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
Firms seem more willing to give flexible hours to working mothers.