Mr. Ben H. Harris Jr.
Deirdre A. Gary
Phone : (251) 441-9207
A.B., Economics, Davidson College, 1959
J.D., University of Alabama School of Law, 1962
In his current role as Of Counsel, Ben Harris’ extensive trial experience serves him well as he advises his fellow attorneys at Johnstone Adams on their current cases. He focuses on general civil litigation, including personal injury, wrongful death, oil and gas, asbestos, telecommunications, real estate, construction, bad faith failure to pay insurance claims, and workers’ compensation. He has done a significant amount of trial work on behalf of Exxon Mobil Corp.
Ben is a seasoned litigator who has successfully argued lawsuits in the Circuit Court of Mobile County, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, Supreme Court of Alabama, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ben and his partner Bill Hardie made local case history in a criminal representation defending an armed robbery case in which the first successful use of the Miranda Decision in the Circuit Court of Mobile County was employed.
Ben’s hallmarks are his ability to successfully arrive at practical solutions for his clients and his quiet, assured demeanor, which is seemingly at odds with his successful trial record. Although admittedly a bit shy, Ben says his competitive nature takes over in a court room and he attributes his productive record to that competitive spirit combined with a well-honed analytical nature.
Successfully defended a client in a personal injury case where the client hit a police officer giving a ticket to the driver of another vehicle on a highway in Mobile.
Successfully defended a large oil company in a case involving a kickback scheme in a large oil field that involved taking in excess of fifty depositions, including one deposition of two witnesses at the same time.
Served as a lead lawyer in the first asbestos case in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama taking the first asbestos litigation deposition in Mobile.
Successfully served as lead counsel in an 11-day jury trial representing a large telecommunications company in a suit involving the termination of a long-time contractor of the company.
Successfully defended a large construction company in federal court against multiple claims involving the construction of a major hospital in Mobile.
Defended major oil company in litigation for personal injury related to H2S exposure obtaining a very good result, and successfully defended such client in a claim related to gas pipeline installed under the bottom of Mobile Bay;
Defended trucking company in wrongful death case and personal injury case as a result of a dump truck jumping the center median and striking an on-coming vehicle, obtaining a good result;
Honors and Awards
Selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers of America in the fields of Employer’s Workers Compensation Law, 2008
AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, since 1970
Most Outstanding Alumnus, University of Alabama School of Law, 2003
William D. Scruggs, Jr. Service to the Bar Award, Alabama State Bar, 2010
Fellow, American Bar Foundation, inducted in 1988
Fellow, Alabama Law Foundation, inducted in 1995
Professional and Community Involvement
Past President, Alabama State Bar
Past Member, Board of Governors, American Bar Association
Past Member, Executive Council, National Conference of Bar Presidents
Past President, United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Historical Society
Past Chairman, Magistrate Selection Committee, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Alabama
Past President, Alabama Law School Foundation
Past President, Alabama Law Foundation
Past President, Alabama Bar Foundation
Past Member, Board of Directors, Alabama Defense Lawyers Association
Past Chairman of the Board, UMS-Wright Preparatory School
Past President, Paul W. Brock Inn of Court
Past President Mobile Track and Field Association
Past President, Murray House (assisted living) Founder of Azalea Trail Run (10K)
Past Member, Allocations Committee, Mobile United Way
Past Board Member, American Red Cross (Mobile Chapter), Mobile Family Counseling Center
Past President, Boys and Girls Club Served two years as a Lieutenant, U.S. Army Field Artillery, primarily at Fort Hood, Texas
Seminars / Presentations
Spoken at meetings of multiple bar associations throughout the State of Alabama
Presented programs and spoken at meetings of the Eleventh Circuit Judicial Conference, Alabama Defense Lawyers Association and meetings of National Conference of Bar Presidents, at meetings of the U. S. Eleventh Circuit Historical Society and at Fort Rucker U. S. Army Helicopter Training Base Law Day Ceremony
Speaker at an induction ceremony for a U. S. District Judge, a portrait presentation of U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge and at a retirement ceremony for Circuit Judge of Escambia County, Alabama, and at the dedication of the Hugo Black U. S. Courthouse in Birmingham
Served as an escort for Justice Anthony Kennedy of U. S. Supreme Court at a U.S. Eleventh Circuit Judicial Conference.
Alabama Lawyer, multiple columns
U. S. Eleventh Circuit Historical News, Presidents Column
Mobile Bar Association Monthly Bulletin, multiple columns
1962, Alabama Supreme Court U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama U.S. Supreme Court U. S. Tax Court
What Our Clients are Saying
“My husband and I were referred to Johnstone Adams in the spring of last year. We are working very closely with Jessica Welch and Greg Watts on an ongoing and unwanted family estate matter. Ms. Welch and Mr. Watts have been so professional and knowledgeable.
In addition, considering the nature of the suit, Jessica has provided my husband and I with a peace of mind we didn"t think was possible during this extremely stressful time of our lives. She is an amazing trial attorney. They have gone above and beyond. To sum it up, I have nothing but the utmost respect and appreciation for them. I would strongly reccomend either of them to my dearest friends and family members. I'm so thankful that we stumbled upon them. I'm actually going to miss Jessica Welch when this is all over.”
“I am currently using this law firm and they are informative, keeping me up to date with my case, and they return your calls/emails immediately. I am very satisfied.”
“My wife and I approached Johnstone Adams to help us make a better informed decision regarding her immigration. They have been a truly invaluable asset. They brought their knowledge, experience, confidence, and calm demeanor to the process, which put our minds at ease. The worry and anxiety that we were facing melted away, and we have been, literally, hand-held during this daunting process. We can’t thank or recommend Johnstone Adams enough and look forward to continuing to use their services in the future.”
“Johnstone Adams was a great help when it came to drawing up our family’s will and advanced directives prior to the birth of our first son. These are certainly things that no one wants to think about, but the process was easy. They were professional and knowledgeable, answering all of our questions along the way with compassion and sensitivity. Johnstone Adams responded quickly to any questions and was easy to get in touch with! We would highly recommend them for any legal work!!”
“Jessica’s advice and assistance with our family's interests in a probate matter was exceptional from beginning to end-- always thoughtful, responsive and efficient, and focused and timely.
It was a genuine pleasure for the doubtless incorrigibly demanding old lawyer that I am to have a professional of her outstanding caliber assisting me on this matter—both generally and in my role as executor in particular—in a jurisdiction unfamiliar to me and on a matter completely outside of my own experience and expertise.
I might also point out that she was really excellent in interfacing, always in a timely and solution-oriented manner, with other parties involved in our matter to help keep our initiatives on track—including attorneys dealing with the disposition of residential real estate and financial assets.
Jessica and her excellent assistant, Shelly Perrone, also offered and provided pragmatic and efficient solutions to logistical and execution issues made significantly more challenging than usual given the COVID-19 crisis and my own location far from Mobile-- in Paris, France.”
“I highly recommend attorney Rick La Trace. Aside from being professional, polite, and yet firm, Rick is a combination of knowledge, detail, and responsiveness. (In my opinion, there are very few professionals who have ALL three qualities. Rick is one of the very few.) What makes him stand apart from the rest, is that he takes the time to listen to his client's concerns (no matter how "trivial"). He educates client’s on how the law works, shares his opinions, including the pros and cons of each. We would definitely use Rick's services again, and highly recommend him for anyone who wants a lawyer that they can trust to thoroughly handle their case from start to finish, even down to the small details. You can tell from working with Rick that he's not just about getting paid for his services, but that he enjoys working through problems and finding creative solutions for his clients. Also, I highly recommend the Johnstone Adams, LLC systems and processes. Shelly and Cathy were on top of things. I give Rick and Johnstone Adams more than five stars.”