The Pursuit of Excellence- Merging Faith and Law
“It is the mission of Haelewyn Harris Law PLCC to provide superior quality legal services… that adheres to the highest standards of integrity and excellence.”
– Haelewyn Harris Law Mission Statement
Excellence; the nature of being extremely good. If one word could describe Brittny Woods-Harris ’07 and her work, it would be excellence. Incredibly successful as a lawyer and recommended by her highly impressive resume, Brittny Harris, co-founder of Haelewyn Harris Law in Detroit and 2007 Indiana Wesleyan University Alum demonstrates the value of quality work in all she does.During her undergraduate career, Mrs. Harris was Cum Laude, a member of the Honor’s College, an intermural athlete, and a senator for Student Government. Following graduation, she went on to study abroad at Oxford, earned her Master’s degree in Government, and then obtained her Juris Doctorate at Regent University School of Law. Mrs. Harris has extensive experience in her field, from working with the United States Airforce as a law clerk, to experience in immigration law, municipal law, and civil litigation and employment law. Now Mrs. Harris is co-founder of a law firm, practicing law in areas that she believes contribute to the greater good of her community. Haelewyn Harris Law Firm focuses primarily on estate planning, special needs planning, and nursing home planning, among a variety of other services.
While her personal accomplishments are impressive, Mrs. Harris’ heart for people and justice is even more so. As a lawyer, Mrs. Harris stresses the integration of faith into her practice. Although she does not overtly voice her beliefs to clients, the way in which she relates with people reflects her personal faith.
“Of course there are Sunday-school answers for how to be a Christian at work,” Ms. Harris mentioned. (As a Christian) “You can demonstrate integrity and honesty in your cases, however, the best way demonstrate your faith is through love.” Mrs. Harris mentioned that this has been a struggle she has faced as a professional. In her field, demonstrating love and concern for clients is challenging; many lawyers are expected to exude serious, aggressive persona. Multiple colleagues have commented on Ms. Harris’ demeanor, critiquing her for treating her clients too nicely or demonstrating too much concern for them. However, for Mrs. Harris, this component of her work is non-negotiable.
“I have learned that I can be aggressive and still be nice,” Mrs. Harris explained as she shared her philosophy as a lawyer. Mrs. Harris’ integration of her faith and her work is far more pervasive than a simple attitude shift. The mission statement of the law firm states that Haelewyn Harris lawyers are dedicated to the highest standards of integrity and excellence. Emphasizing the value she places on these words, Mrs. Harris also invests her time in extensive Pro-Bono work, serving the Detroit area through need-based free or reduced-price consulting.
“This is typically a case-by-case project,” Mrs. Harris explained, “we work to help people financially where we see the need.” Mrs. Harris volunteers her services as a lawyer for the community as well as for her local church. She stated that as a lawyer she a certified attorney but also a counselor of law- and she sees the counselor part as a crucial element of her job.
Professionally, Mrs. Harris has aspirations for developing and growing the firm with the intention of eventually transforming the firm into a completely paperless law practice. She stressed the importance of maintaining interpersonal relationships and concurrently staying technologically on the edge.
“Stereotypically, lawyers are resistant to change,” Mrs. Harris stated, “so technology is not often well integrated. It is the hope of our practice to use technology as a means by which we can streamline our services and increase efficiency.” In the upcoming years, Mrs. Harris mentioned that she would like to see the practice shift to an entirely primarily virtual corporation.
In the life of Mrs. Harris, excellence also means balance. While an incredibly successful lawyer, this woman stressed the importance of other priorities in her life, primarily her faith, and her family.
“As a lawyer, it is a struggle to be a Christian first, and put my family second, and my job third. However, that is what I am called to do,” she explained. “I believe that is a Biblical principal.”
Mrs. Harris stated that her primary reason for starting her law firm was to facilitate this desired sense of balance.
“Many lawyers work twelve hours a day; having my own practice allows me to have the flexibility I need. I’m married and have a son, I want to be able to have time for them as well.
Reflecting on her time at IWU, Mrs. Harris mentioned that her educational experience helped her prepare for life outside a school environment in that it gave her a foundation and support system she has carried through life. As a Christian, professional, wife, and mother, Mrs. Harris has learned the value of pursuing excellence in all that she does as she merges her faith and law practice.
Written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Junior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their divine potential in written form.