History

Our law firm was established in 1978 by John Harris, John Dowell, and Ronald Fisher.

At that time, John Harris had been working in labor law for about 20 years, beginning with five years as trial counsel and chief trial counsel with the National Labor Relations Board, and continuing as in-house labor counsel for AT&T and chief trial counsel for two prominent St. Louis management labor law firms. He started his own firm in 1973, quickly building a strong practice with many clients the firm continues to represent today.

After returning from service in Vietnam, John Dowell began practice in 1969 with another prominent labor law firm in St. Louis. He was a pioneer in defending discrimination cases, representing United Parcel Service against numerous discrimination charges in the early 1970s. Ron Fisher joined John Dowell at that firm in 1970, after three years with a Chicago-based union.

In 1978, John Dowell and Ron Fisher decided to start their own practice, joining John Harris to form the Harris, Dowell & Fisher law firm in October 1978, with offices in the rapidly growing Chesterfield.

The new partners envisioned the firm as based not on delegating as much work as possible to less experienced attorneys, but on directly applying their experience and expertise to performing most of the client services and legal work themselves.

For over 25 years, the firm has remained true to this vision. As presently constituted, we have six highly experienced partners and one senior associate.

Michael F. Harris came to the firm in 1984, from a top international law firm. Mike is also a Certified Public Accountant, giving him a more diversified background with which to represent his clients. In addition to traditional labor and employment law matters, Mike represents numerous employers in OSHA and multiemployer plan withdrawal liability matters.

George L. Lenard came to the firm in 1985, becoming a partner in 1993. George brought to the firm excellent legal research, writing, and analytical skills, which complement the trial and client counseling skills of the other partners. The firm’s clients benefit from the fact that George continues to skillfully perform research and writing work that many firms would delegate to less experienced junior associates. In addition, he serves as managing partner and chief technologist.

Diana R. Francis came to the firm as a partner in 1997. Diana had spent a number of years in private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in labor and employment law, before serving for a combined ten years as corporate labor and employment law counsel for MCI Communications Corporation in Washington, D.C. and Olin Corporation in Illinois. Diana’s in-house experience provides valuable insight into the corporate perspective on human resource and labor relations matters, as well as the management of labor and employment litigation.

Elizabeth A. Rice Johnson came to the firm as an associate in 2001, following two years as a Staff Attorney for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Elizabeth works closely with all the other attorneys in the firm and their clients.

Fred A. Ricks came to the firm as a partner in 2003. Fred had previously practiced management labor and employment law for many years with another St. Louis labor and employment law firm. Fred has much experience in traditional labor law representation, including collective-bargaining negotiations, arbitrations, and NLRB proceedings, as well as all other areas of the firm’s practice. He also defends employment discrimination cases throughout the country for a prominent securities firm.

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