Life and times of Paul Harris
Finding his calling
Harris soon after he started practicing law in Chicago in 1896.
Harris's private office at the Law Offices of Harris, Dodds, and Brown in the Unity Building on Dearborn Street in Chicago, 1909.
After the death of his grandfather in 1888, Harris spent a year working for the Sheldon Marble Company in West Rutland. His grandmother encouraged him to work hard and live honorably for his grandfather's sake.
He then spent about a year working at the law firm of St. John, Stevenson, and Whisenand in Des Moines, Iowa. After his apprenticeship, he attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in June 1891.
In 1896, Harris settled in Chicago, where he opened a law practice in the central business district. He remained active in his professional practice to one degree or another for more than four decades -- even after he retired. In the summer of 1932, he served as a delegate of the Chicago Bar Association to the International Congress of Comparative Law at The Hague.
Harris sought meaningful personal and spiritual relationships in addition to his professional achievements. He customarily attended religious services on Sundays but visited many different churches rather than aligning himself exclusively with one congregation. Later in his life, he said that his religious affiliations were, like himself, difficult to label.
I really have no church affiliations … I am not easily classified; that is to say my convictions are not that of that definite nature essential to whole-hearted affiliation with the general run of churches. … Of course, these days one can hear the best of preaching over the radio and I generally hear three or four sermons every Sunday.
Harris loved nature, and in 1908, he joined a newly formed group that organized monthly Saturday afternoon walking trips through the forests, fields, hills, and valleys around the city. In 1911, the group became the Prairie Club, and Harris served as one of its directors.