History

Since our founding in 1856, Harris Beach has grown to be among the country’s top law firms, as ranked by The National Law Journal.

From the earliest years, we have been on the cutting edge of the law. At the turn of the 20th century, we helped guide the expansion of the railway system throughout New York state. We were there to help one of our clients secure the patent for a novel photo-imaging system that many thought would never catch on, but became an international leader in photocopying systems. Before the rest of the country focused on health care reform, we were helping our clients design a community system that resulted in costs dramatically below the national average.

Our law firm remains at the forefront of issues facing businesses in the 21st century, whether it’s competing in the global marketplace, protecting innovations, helping organizations manage cyberattacks or meeting the demands of complying with the Affordable Care Act. Above all, we understand and match our clients’ needs to move faster, think more creatively and develop new business models to achieve sustainable growth.

EDWARD HARRIS

Edward Harris caught the attention of Rochester, New York attorney, Henry Ives, shortly after he and his family arrived in Rochester from England in 1850. Based on the recommendation of a friend, who was impressed with Edward Harris’ work ethic and enthusiasm, Henry Ives hired the young man as a clerk for $1 a week. Edward took an immediate interest in his mentor’s profession. At the age of 21, he was admitted to practice law based on his apprenticeship with Henry Ives and became a named partner of Ives & Harris, as was the custom of the time. Edward quickly established himself in the legal community when he won a case on appeal in 1860 with a one-page brief filed on behalf of his clients. At issue was a negligence claim filed by individuals who shipped goods along the Erie Canal against the contractor responsible for maintaining the canal’s towpath. The case helped to establish Edward as strong advocate of those who were conducting commerce on one of New York state’s most important business transportation routes. In 1871, Henry Ives passed away and Edward kept the Ives name in place until 1884 when he invited his son, Albert, to join him in the practice. The father and son team changed the name of the firm to Harris and Harris. A well-recognized lawyer among the banking community, Edward was elected a trustee of Rochester Savings Bank in 1879, a predecessor to the Royal Bank of Scotland. In 1892, he handled the incorporation of Security Trust Company, a predecessor of Bank of America through acquisitions. Edward served on a number of professional and community organizations, including as the fourth president of the Monroe County Bar Association in 1897. In 1911, Edward Harris, who was known as the “Dean of the Rochester Bar,” passed away. In a show of respect for his contributions to the legal community, the courts closed for one day.