It was only one year, but an experience that informed Jeffrey Harradine’s entire legal practice: as a clerk for the late Franklin S. Van Antwerpen of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Harradine’s charge was no small task.
“I had the benefit of working for a judge who demanded that we treat every single case as if it was the most important case of our lives,” Harradine remembers. “To Judge Van Antwerpen, every case was critically important to someone, so we had to get it right, every time. He instilled in all of us the importance of reaching the correct answer under law, whether it took us hours, days, or even weeks to get there.”
He continues, “I’ve taken that mindset with me to every case that I’ve worked on and every in-house duty. When I am engaged, my work has to be my best effort and right because it is important to someone.”
Harradine’s path in-house differs greatly to most others. In fact, he spent more than sixteen years in private practice, first as an associate at Clifford Chance in New York City, and then an associate and partner at Ward, Greenberg, Heller, & Reidy in Rochester, before joining Xerox’s Office of General Counsel.
So, why go in-house at all?
“I joined the Xerox team because I thought I could provide value, and I wanted to add important new arrows to my quiver,” the senior managing counsel of litigation and employment explains. “I wanted to learn a business from the inside and see exciting engineering and science. Although I’ve only been here a relatively short time, I’ve encountered incredible people, who have been supportive and helped educate me on the fascinating parts of our business.”
But Harradine’s history with Xerox goes much deeper. The company’s extensive ties in his community mean a lot to the attorney, who grew up twenty minutes west of Xerox Tower in Rochester. Even as a child, Harradine remembers hearing about Xerox rolling out the latest technology; not to mention the number of interesting people he met who just happened to have some tie to the company. He is proud that many of the crucial technologies we use every day were born at Xerox and Xerox PARC.
“I think for anyone that has a remote understanding of the history of [Xerox], coming here was too alluring an opportunity to pass up,” Harradine remembers. “I couldn’t help but admire this place, even as a kid.”
Harradine admits he never imagined he would go in-house, even five years ago. He observes that law schools rarely introduce students to the idea of working as an enabler for a business as opposed to a billable powerhouse acting as outside counsel; an encoding that can be hard to shake off. However, as time went on, Harradine felt convinced there were too many interesting experiences to learn and grow from working on the other side of the attorney-client relationship.
The sophistication of Xerox’s legal team helped the transition in-house, as did the range of complex litigation matters Harradine led as a firm attorney touching on corporate governance, labor and employment law, UCC and contract breaches, and intellectual property. But that doesn’t mean it’s been an easy go.
“The challenge coming into a role like this is learning how to jump into a project or a case, do productive work, and move to the next activity on a faster cycle than most people do in private practice,” he explains. “I’m usually not in the nitty gritty now, but work on strategy for a number of different matters and counseling projects on any given day. I want to make sure I am a positive influence on an engagement before I move on to do the same on the next.”
Harradine says cultivating that speed and efficiency is likely a skill he will work to perfect for the remainder of his career. And that’s exactly why he moved in-house. On a typical day, he could be in a courtroom or a deposition, providing counseling on any number of legal issues across North America on breaks, then return to the office (sometimes a quick trip in our increasingly virtual world) to strategize on a complex litigation, before moving on to support HR as part of his employment function.
“I’m never, ever bored here,” Harradine says, laughing. “And that is a great thing to say about any job.”
Jeffrey Harradine just wants to inspire one person. That’s enough. “If this job can be done by a kid from Brockport, New York, it can be done by you, too, if you just apply yourself,” the attorney says. But that’s not a slight on his hometown; indeed, his high school class produced a number of physicians, entrepreneurs, teachers, and engineers. But his gratitude to those who guided him in his formative years is why Harradine dedicates significant time to making his hometown the best it can be.
Serving on the Brockport Central School District Board of Education since 2017 (and as its vice president since 2018), Harradine oversees the school he attended and where his children are now enrolled. He also serves as a trustee for the Western Monroe Historical Society and acts as director for the Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Foundation, which provides support for higher education, medical research, and the performing arts.