The Honorable Randall “Todd” Harris
Judge in the First Judicial Circuit Court of Florida
R. Todd Harris earned a B.A. in English from the University of West Florida and received his law degree from Florida State University. He was a partner at McDonald Fleming, LLP until being appointed to the First Judicial Circuit Court.
How did UWF prepare you for such a successful career?
I was an English writing major. My professors taught me how to read carefully, spot issues, analyze those issues, and then communicate my analysis in a clear, concise and persuasive manner. I used those skills every day for 20 years as an attorney, and I still use them as a judge.
Can you share any advice for UWF students wishing to follow the same career path?
I recommend anyone desiring a career in the law look for opportunities to intern in the legal profession, whether at a law office or courthouse. Get a feel for what working in the legal system actually looks like on a day-to-day basis (it is not like on television) before you spend many hours and many dollars going to law school. If you have the goal of being a judge, look for opportunities to clerk for judges. Perhaps most importantly, be aware that your student loan debt will have a direct impact on the type of work you are able to accept in the legal profession. Some of the most rewarding work you can do as an attorney will also be the work that pays you the least.
Do you have a standout memory from UWF?
When I was a freshman, I was walking through the Great Hall one afternoon during a majors fair at which each academic department was present. I wanted to be an English major, but I wasn't sure if that was the right decision. Dr. Greg Lanier was there for the English department. He told me that if I decided to become an English major I would learn "how to think" and that was the most valuable and practical skill I could ever learn. He gave me all the encouragement I needed. It was a positive turning point in my academic life that had a major impact on my future career.