Phoenix Ayotte Harris was born in Florida and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She attended Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, and earned her business degree in economics from Georgia State University in 2004. In 2007 she earned her Juris Doctorate, Cum Laude, from Stetson University College of Law in Tampa, Florida. During her law school career she was a research assistant, served on the Student Bar Association, and interned with the Navy JAG Corps, the Veteran's Administration, and the Federal Public Defender's Office.
In 2007 Phoenix relocated to Northern Virginia with her husband, a naval officer. In her first employment with the Federal Public Defender in Alexandria from 2007-2008, she oversaw a massive project obtaining hundreds of sentence reductions for inmates across the Eastern District of Virginia, and successfully gained the only greater than two-level reduction granted in this District. Phoenix then joined the well-respected Alexandria Public Defender's Office from 2008-2010, and subsequently served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Federal Public Defender's Office in Norfolk, Virginia, from 2010-2013. She moved into private practice in 2013 with Greenspun Shapiro, PC, and opened the Law Offices of Phoenix Ayotte Harris, PLLC, in 2014.
As a former dedicated public defender, Phoenix has represented hundreds of clients on matters from traffic and domestic matters to the most serious federal crimes. Her motions practice has resulted in dismissal of many cases before they reach trial, including ultimate dismissal of federal child pornography charges after a hearing she held on the violation of her client's constitutional rights, and ultimate dismissal of federal weapons charges after successfully arguing that her client was incompetent to stand trial and was not sane at the time of the offense. Her jury and bench trial experience has been positive and earned many client acquittals, including for federal marriage and immigration fraud charges, DUIs, trespass, assaults, theft offenses, domestic crimes, drug possession and distribution, and many others. Her skilled negotiations have resulted in significant sentence reductions in federal cases, and she is experienced with material witness and grand jury matters as well as cooperation with law enforcement authorities. She has briefed and argued appeals before United States District Courts, the Court of Appeals of Virginia, and the Supreme Court of Virginia, and has participated in preparing appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.
Phoenix has served as a moot court and mock trial judge for the Capitol City Mock Trial Competition, Regent School of Law, William and Mary School of Law, George Mason School of Law, George Washington School of Law, and the Thurgood Marshall Federal Bar Association Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C. She serves as a mentor to the many law student interns she has supervised in the past and presently, serves upon multiple boards, including that of Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (VACDL), and is active in seeking out teaching opportunities, including the 2015 Alexandria Bar Association CLE Marathon (criminal portion) as well as prior instruction of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Training (2010-2013).
Ms. Harris was recognized as a "RISING STAR" by Super Lawyers for 2017 and 2017 in the Washington Post magazine, and has received the following additional recognitions: