May L. Harris is For Purpose Law Group’s founder and managing attorney. She co-chairs the firm’s Nonprofit, Social Enterprise and Business & Corporate practice areas. Ms. Harris has over eighteen years of executive, development, and leadership experience within the nonprofit sector and within socially innovative businesses.
Graduating from the University of San Diego School of Law in 2000, Ms. Harris started her legal career in Intellectual Property, working “in house” for a large BioTech company in Carlsbad, California. There she honed her experience with patents, trademarks and various complex service, licensing, confidentiality and material transfer agreements.
When her children entered elementary school, she recognized a huge, unserved need in San Diego. With a group of passionate parents, Ms. Harris established and then served as the executive director of a nonprofit organization that raised funds for socio-economically disadvantaged charter schools throughout San Diego County. In that role, Ms. Harris raised more than $2.5 million in funding, including a $1.5 million dollar grant from the Department of Education to improve the physical education programming at the schools.
Recognizing the complexity and unique requirements of managing and operating a vibrant nonprofit organization, Ms. Harris returned to the University of San Diego and earned her Master of Arts degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management in 2010. Thus, Ms. Harris provides an extremely unique insight to the firm’s clients, approaching issues not only from a legal or regulatory perspective as most attorneys do, but also from a practical, operational and management oriented view that clients appreciate. She’s personally experienced nurturing a nonprofit from idea inception to full strength and vibrancy – and understands what it takes to get there.
For nonprofit clients, this full spectrum approach assures that they receive practical, real world advice they can apply immediately with staff, board members, stakeholders or donors to establish, protect, and grow their for purpose organizations. For emerging social enterprises, her expertise with the new social corporate forms that require a purpose enables her to be more than just another “business attorney.”
Ms. Harris not only represents organizations in the nonprofit sector – she also spends many hours volunteering her services, and serving those in need. Believing that philanthropy and service is a life-long endeavor to be modeled, she has served in Guatemala and Jamaica with her children on medical service trips, and she volunteered with her daughter in SPRITES, a mother-daughter philanthropic organization throughout her daughter’s high school career. Currently, as President of USA Rugby Trust, Ms. Harris assists organizations at the local, regional and national level to support the development of the sport of rugby in the United States.