Profiles: Zach Harmon

Zach Harmon

Zach Harmon

JD 17

What is your background?

On my father's side we can trace our family back to the 1500s in Sweden and America, and I am a fifth generation San Franciscan. My paternal grandfather was an American Marine in World War II, while my maternal grandfather was actually a German soldier who spent time in an American prison camp, and my grandmother was in Dresden when it was bombed. In 1957, when my mother was a child, her father decided to move the family here because of how well the Americans had treated him as a POW. I was raised in the East Bay with my younger brother and went to high school in Concord. My mother is a law librarian, and my father is an architect.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

Both of my parents encouraged critical thinking and debating. I also loved watching JAG and Law & Order as a young kid, which got me interested in various approaches to legal problems. Then in college I took a Legal Process Theory class, and the professor urged me to do moot court. I loved the rush! It made me think I could do that every day. But my undergraduate grades weren't great, so my advisor steered me away from considering law school. Later I talked to a lawyer who pointed out that you don't have to go to a top school to do well after law school. I knew I'd be working really hard at whatever I did, so I realized I might as well be doing something I loved.

What do you intend to do after law school?

I want to be a litigator so much, I already feel like it's a part of me. I see litigation as an art; a litigator is part salesman, part impassioned advocate, and part insurance broker. I love that you get immediate feedback on your job performance from a jury. At the same time, you have to really love and care for people. You have to represent your clients' best interest, and that doesn't always mean going to trial, even if you could win.

Do you have any advice for fellow law students?

Law school is like a sun. It has a very strong gravitational pull and it will consume you if don't keep a healthy distance. Expect it to be hard, and remember that everyone gets knocked down -- but the fact that you're here at all says something about your ability. And remember that everyone is as confused and worried as you are. Don't feel the need to compete with others. Not doing well my first semester, despite working really hard, was the most beneficial experience. It forced me to be humble, while figuring out how to believe in myself at the same time.

Also, I know from my friends at other law schools that GGU is unique in that there are so many people willing to help. Whatever the problem, there is someone whose job it is to help you, so take advantage of that!