Harris Cook Then
Relatively early in his career, David L. Cook took advantage of an opportunity to show just how far he and his law firm, Harris Cook, LLP, will go to serve a client. Literally speaking, the span was more than 460 air miles, from DFW International Airport to the border that separates Texas and Mexico.
Figuratively, it meant the world to his client in a divorce/child custody case, who in 2004 joined Cook on a fervent quest to find the former client’s five youngest children, who had been taken illegally by his estranged wife to San Benito, Texas, just 20 miles north of the Texas/Mexico border. Upon the children being abducted, Cook and his client, a local orthopedic surgeon, spent days poring over possible leads to the children’s whereabouts. A tip from a colleague of the wife at the border, responding to the Amber Alert that was issued, helped Cook and his client track the woman to an extended-stay hotel, where authorities safely rescued the children. In the process, the episode reaffirmed Cook and his firm as the most dedicated of public servants, from both legal and humanitarian standpoints.
“That was very rewarding. To see my client finally get physical custody of his kids, it was a career defining moment,” Cook says. “I have now been practicing for 23 years and that was a one-and-done situation. It will probably never happen again. But it remains one of the more impactful cases I’ve ever been involved with.”
That Cook would show that kind of tenacity comes as little surprise to those who know him. To get in the door at his first job in the legal profession, with the firm of Chris Harris & Associates, P.C., for example, the soon-to-be-law-student phoned the practice’s founder 13 times before Harris told him there was a potential entry-level opening.
“I finally heard back on my first day of law school,” Cook recalls. “This gruff voice on the phone says, ‘I hear you want to go to work for me.’ I was like, ‘yes, sir.’ I knew it had to be State Senator Chris Harris because he was the only person I wanted to work for. He said, ‘well, why don’t you come talk to me about that?’”
Roughly 45 minutes later, Cook accepted the position to work for Harris – only hours before his first class in law school.
Now the Managing Partner of the Firm, Cook knew he wanted to work with Harris, a successful attorney and member of Texas Legislature who would offer invaluable experience in both of the areas in which Cook wanted to learn and grow. Like his mentor, Cook eventually entered politics, first as the Mayor of Mansfield and now as the 2020 Republican Nominee for the Texas House of Representatives.
Working for Harris and having him as a mentor greatly shaped the attorney Cook is today.
“Chris was tenacious, loyal and committed to the cause,” Cook recalls. “If the Senator was with you, you were in a good spot. If he was against you, well I’m praying for you. The valuable experience that I had, just being around him, was immeasurable, and I knew back then that I was in a better place than all my fellow law students with the environment that I was in – I was able to work in the Texas Senate and in Harris’ Law firm, getting hands-on, knee-deep experience in the law and the legislature.”
The lessons Cook learned from working with such a formidable leader in the dual-faceted environment served as a foundation for his own many successes. Early on, he was particularly adept at problem solving, and working virtually full-time while also taking a full load of law courses taught him how to be resoundingly resourceful – so much so that by age 24 Cook was managing the day to day operations of Chris Harris & Associates, P.C. – while still in law school.
When Cook started working at the firm in 1993, it focused primarily in Family Law and Administrative Law. It was a small firm with only two attorneys – and a talented law student who was cutting his teeth in the courtroom long before most of his peers. A lot of clients were friends and associates of Harris, whose reputation was known far beyond the city’s borders. Others came because of the firm’s standing as a consistent and persistent legal representative.
Regardless of the genesis of the association, all clients got Harris’ team’s best efforts. “Chris was passionate,” Cook says. “And his instincts were almost always right.”
By 1997, Harris’ instincts told him that Cook, who had just been admitted to the Texas Bar, was ready to become an attorney at the firm and offered him an associate attorney position.
“Chris saw something in me. I think maybe it was just the determination I had to be successful and to get the job done,” Cook recalls. “I was definitely able to get things done, but a lot of that was because of the resources that were available to me. The Senator’s measure of success was often based upon one’s ability to follow through on assigned tasks. Chris’ wife Tammy, has also been available to help me when needed.”
Ms. Harris had this to say: “David went to great lengths to work for Chris – from the beginning, we knew he was different, in a good way. He was eager and determined to learn. Chris and David quickly developed a strong mentor-mentee relationship. Moreover, David became like family to us, working with Chris both locally in the law office, as well as doing legislative work in Austin. It has been a great pleasure watching David grow over the years as a person, an attorney, and as a Mayor. I am happy to cheer him on as he continues to grow Harris Cook, LLP and as he makes a run for the Texas House.”
In any case, thankfully for David, something provoked Chris to call that day back in 1993, to open the door of opportunity. The door widened in 2004, when Harris made the decision to form a new partnership with Cook, and together they established Harris Cook, LLP. “I knew I had an invaluable opportunity,” Cook says. “When Senator Harris invited me to be his Partner, he cemented the relationship we had built – it meant a life-long commitment. Other than changing the letterhead and the names on the wall, it was time to get back to work – pretty well business as usual.”
At the time, work meant carrying on as a small, but well-respected, law practice, as well as Chris operating a title company that his father Jack had created in the late 1970s and that Chris began overseeing in 1991. Responsibilities in the law firm changed for Cook in 2012 when Harris decided it was time for David to be Managing Partner of Harris Cook. But it wasn’t until 2015, when Harris passed away that Cook became President of Chris Harris & Associates, P.C., which operates a title fee office of Alamo Title Company.
Harris Cook Now
By 2017, both enterprises began to head in a different – and eventually more expansive – direction. “Upon Chris’ passing, I assumed operations of Chris Harris & Associates to keep things in place,” Cook says. “It was necessary for the title company to have an attorney as part of ownership. At first, it was done out of necessity, then we saw it as an opportunity to grow as a successful title company.” Following the firm losing Harris in 2015, and highly respected Managing Attorney Kimberly Fitzpatrick in 2018, who left to serve as a Tarrant County District Judge, over the last two years, Alamo Title Company has flourished, and Harris Cook has evolved into a Full-Service Law Firm, with the addition of six talented attorneys, including long time veteran Arlington Attorneys Larry L. Fowler, Jr. and Paul J. Johnson, as well as Rachel L. Wright, Patrick L. Dooley, Lin Morrisett and Marc A. Stach. The two entities now have a combined 40-plus employees.
“As a Full-Service Law Firm, Harris Cook is now able to offer a large number of practice areas,” Cook says, noting that a full-service practice is particularly attractive to business owners because it can handle practically every legal matter a company might face. “It’s unique, because most law firms are limited to certain practice area(s), so it’s not often that you see law firms cross over a spectrum of several practice areas, as we do at Harris Cook. When we decided to go full-service, we were looking to see what the needs would be of our respective clients. We tried to make sure that we have good diversification so that we can offer a wide variety of quality legal services and knowledge.”
Currently, Harris Cook’s primary Practice Areas are Business Law, Real Estate Law, Employment Law, Public Utilities, Probate and Guardianship, Estate Planning, Family Law and Personal Injury.
One thing that hasn’t been altered at the firm, however, is the passion and focus on which Harris founded the practice. Harris Cook serves clients through attorneys who not only have excellent communication skills but who are ethical and compassionate. “We want to hire attorneys who align with our values,” Cook says. “It’s important that you have attorneys with integrity, honesty and competency, who are ethical and community-minded with a servant’s heart.”
Cook concedes that not all attorneys fit that mold. “From a client’s perspective, a lot of times you’re not going to know if you’re going to have a good attorney or a bad attorney until the matter has been decided,” he says. “How an attorney conducts himself, as far as returning phone calls and being responsive to the client’s needs – the actions will tell you what kind of person the attorney is.”
“Harris Cook represents clients ethically and with their best interest in mind,” Cook says. “We are truth seekers. The world is ever-changing, from new technology, to economic highs and lows, to global pandemics, but Harris Cook stays prepared and informed in order to represent clients for any of life’s unknowns.”
So, what’s next for Harris Cook, LLP? Cook says the firm’s goal is to be the most successful Full-Service Law Firm in North Texas. “Our history is in Arlington, and we will always serve this area,” Cook says. “But we also want to represent clients all throughout North Texas. We have a strong foundation in place, and we want to maximize the results we garner for our clients.”
By increasing the depth of experience and talent across our multiple Practice Areas (described in detail below), Harris Cook can provide an outside General Counsel role to our clients throughout North Texas. Through strategic planning and careful execution, the attorneys at Harris Cook, LLP are helping their clients address the challenges they face today while mitigating and preventing problems in their future.
“The team of problem solvers we have are known for providing outstanding legal representation to businesses, families, and individuals. We are able to help tackle any legal challenge our client’s may have,” Cook adds.
Personally speaking, Cook says he would like to be remembered as a strong leader, “someone who cares for his employees, his clients and his community.”
Likewise, he strives to ensure Harris Cook will be thought of in the same manner.
“We want to be successful for our clients and successful individuals in our Community,” he says. “That started with Chris, and I want to continue his legacy.”