Harkavy happy mixing business with law

The Memphis Daily News/The Memphis News

Dec. 24, 2013

Lee Harkavy, partner with Wyatt Tarrant & Combs LLP, had a dream to work in the world of business and finance, so the native Memphian pursued and completed a Bachelor of Business Administration in financing and accounting at the University of Michigan.

Though he comes from a family of attorneys, Harkavy had no plans to become one himself, and no real course of action to see his business dreams realized after graduation.

He worked for Arthur Andersen and interviewed with other agencies and firms, but along the way, some career advice caught his eye.

“I read an article that said that more CEOs of public companies have law degrees than any other graduate degree out there,” Harkavy said.

To help him succeed in business, he knew he wanted a graduate degree and decided the week before school began to enter Vanderbilt University Law School.

“I viewed it as an entry way into the business world for me,” he said.

Following graduation in 1993, he worked at Wyatt Tarrant in transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and securities for the next five years.

In 1998, client Storage USA asked him to come into the acquisitions department. It would mean leaving the practice of law to enter that world of business and finance. Though he loved the law, he jumped at the opportunity and soon transitioned into running Capital Markets.

When GE Capital bought the company, he was asked to stay on as the senior vice president of business development. In that capacity, he helped facilitate the sale of the company a couple of years later to Salt Lake City-based Extra Space Storage. He was asked to stay on in the same role and to move to Utah.

He stayed on for a year but, unhappy with internal issues and looking to get back to the South, he left and took some time off to regroup and consider where he wanted to be.

“Memphis is where my heart is and I love Memphis and felt like it’s a great place to raise a family.”

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