After 12 years, The Legal Report from Robert Half is gaining a new host. In this episode, Charles Volkert transitions hosting duties to Jamy Sullivan, executive director of Robert Half’s legal talent solutions practice. They discuss the making of the podcast, notable episodes and memorable guests over the years, Chad’s new role, and predict future trends for the legal profession.
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Intro: Welcome to The Legal Report from Robert Half, where industry leading experts discuss current hiring and practice management issues impacting the legal profession. Robert Half is a premier provider of Talent Solutions for the legal field. The Legal Report from Robert Half is here on the Legal Talk Network.
Charles Volkert: Hello everyone, and welcome. I’m Charles Volkert, the global solutions leader for Protiviti’s Legal Consulting Practice and the host of our program. With me today is Jamy Sullivan. Jamy is executive director of the Legal Talent Solutions Group at Robert Half. She began her career with Robert Half in 2002 as an account executive in Columbus, Ohio. Over the years she has held various sales management positions within the company and received recognition for serving on project committees, mentoring internal employees and her leadership performance. She also is an author and speaker on legal employment and law practice management topics. Before joining Robert Half, Jamy worked as a law clerk at an Ohio law firm and for the Ohio State Legislature. She holds a bachelor degree in communication from the Ohio State University and a juris doctor from Capital University Law School both in Columbus, Ohio. Welcome back to the show Jamy.
Jamy Sullivan: Thank you Chad. It’s great to be back and not only be a guest as I have in the past, but an avid listener of the show. You have brought invaluable insight to our listeners. But today, as we officially transitioned hosting duties, I’d like to flip the script and interview you. So to start our discussion, I’m wondering if you can provide some insight on how the Legal Report podcast came about.
Charles Volkert: Well, this is interesting right? An Ohio State member flipping the script on a University of Miami graduate, very interesting as we approach football season but to your question, we launched the program hard to believe back in March of 2010, a little over 12 years ago, working with the Legal Talk Network, which by the way has been a fantastic partnership. We wanted to deliver content to help legal professionals manage their hiring and job search processes more effectively.
Our first program was focused on hiring and compensation trends in the legal field. We had a unique perspective to offer on the employment landscape, given our work with law firms and corporate legal departments, as well as candidates for over two decades. Our goal was to share this outlook with a broad based of legal professionals in a format that was easy to access whenever, wherever it was most convenient for them.
Jamy Sullivan: What a journey it has been. You’ve certainly had an incredible career Chad. Now, how did you get started in the legal field and what inspired you to pursue law school?
Charles Volkert: It’s a great question, Jamy. And I’ve thought about it a lot. I don’t know if it was watching some Perry Mason when I was a kid or watching my dad in business and my mother who always relied on attorneys for great legal counsel, but somewhere along the line, I said to myself, I’d like to go to law school and I set off on that journey and ended up at the University of Miami for law school and it was a great, great opportunity to expand my horizons. Learn to think a different way that law school teaches all of us that have gone through it and had met a tremendous amount of great colleagues there that are friends and professional colleagues to this day.
Jamy Sullivan: That is outstanding and inspiring. Can you share with our listeners what types of positions you’ve held during your career and what you’re doing now?
Charles Volkert: Absolutely. Well, I remember coming out of law school saying, you know, what am I going to do moving forward, and I was fortunate enough to be able to work at two top South Florida law firms coming out of law school. I focused on complex litigation, insurance, defense, medical malpractice, and product liability. I was fortunate enough at the time to be dating my now wife Verushka(ph), who knew individuals at Robert Half in 1999. She realized at that time that maybe I wasn’t loving practicing law as much as I thought, and that is true. I loved being with in the legal community, but I don’t know if my strengths were aligned with the day-to-day practice.
And she introduced me to Robert Half who is looking to open up their legal consulting and recruitment office in Miami for the first time. And I joined. Fortunate that Robert Half hired me through the interview process and came on board with three other lawyers to open up that new office, I’ve held a variety of roles, including senior district president, the Legal Talent Solutions Group, as well as the executive managing director for the company’s legal consulting solutions practice. During that time Jamy, I was fortunate to be able to provide strategic advice and direction to business leaders and a broad range of areas including legal department optimization, data security, e-discovery matters, contract management litigation, MNA, as well as broad legal recruiting strategies to name a few. Recently, I moved into the global solutions leader role for Protiviti which is our wholly owned global consulting firm nearly two billion dollars in revenue and it’s been an exciting journey starting in January, to begin to offer our legal consulting solutions under the Protiviti umbrella in a much broader way across, not only the United States but also internationally and assist clients, manage different business fluctuations, workload increases and overall alternative legal solutions that are necessary to make their businesses run more effectively as well as partnering with key law firms across the country to assist them as well.
Jamy Sullivan: Wow, a very exciting career, as I’ve mentioned already, but it’s really interesting to hear where you’ve been obviously, I’ve partnered with you for many years so witness some of that first hand but also for our listeners to hear about your new role. What do you do though when you’re not working, what are some of those activities and organizations that you’d participate in?
Charles Volkert: Thanks Jamy because that is such an important aspect. I’m often reminded of Paul Gentzkow, our CEO for Robert Half Talent Solutions mentioning me long ago in my career a couple of things. Number one, do the job that you were hired to do exceptionally well and you’ll be tapped on the shoulder and asked to do more if that’s something you desire and a little bit of what I shared is evidence of that exact advice that Paul provided. He also really stressed as did other key executives like Keith Waddell, our CEO of Robert Half overall, Max Mesmer, our executive chairman, Katherine Spencer Lee, a top executive within the organization that family comes first. And so when I think about my career at Robert Half and now Protiviti, I’m often grounded in the sense of family and community. I think about my girls that my beautiful wife has given us. I have two girls and first and foremost is family time with them. Pre-COVID as you remember Jamy, we were flying here there and everywhere, hundreds of thousands of miles a year. During the pandemic, we didn’t do that. I don’t think we’ll ever fly as much as we did before but that affords all of us opportunity to spend more time with our family. And that’s really first and foremost, we have fun playing sports, traveling, headed to the beach here in South Florida where I live and just spending great quality of time together. Also, being active in the University of Miami, alumni groups, I’m a big proponent and participant in Rotary International. I remember the days of going when I was six, seven, eight years with my dad to Rotary meetings where he was a president in multiple different clubs and I’ve continued that tradition. My mother passed in 1995 after a long battle with breast cancer. And so, I’ve continued to be active and an active supporter in the Susan G. Komen organization, and going through the Alzheimer’s disease with my father, who passed just a few years ago at 89, I’ve also become very active in those various foundations to try to put an end to that horrific disease as well, as well as many other community activities and boards and committees both professionally as well as personally.
Jamy Sullivan: Well, I have first-hand witness family first with you Chad, and it’s really been impressive and remarkable, especially since you are a global leader in our Protiviti Consulting Practice so, kudos to you in being able to continue to keep that commitment and inspire all of us to make sure we’re balancing that as well.
You’ve also done such a fantastic job as the host of the show for more than a decade and you certainly leave some big shoes to fill. So what are some of your most memorable programs from the last few years and any favorite guests of course besides yours truly?
Charles Volkert: Well definitely Jamy, and I appreciate all the nice things you’re saying, but it may be a little bit overboard but it’s been fantastic to host the show all of these years. I was taught long ago, surround yourself with people that are smarter, brighter, more exciting than you, and you will do just fine. And that’s what I’ve tried to do on the show. The reality is having a broad range of topics but even more importantly having a broad range of guests to excite the audience and make sure that we’re able to provide a platform for them to showcase their expertise that’s hopefully a benefit to the listeners while keeping them entertained at the same time. You know, one of the area’s that’s been most interesting to watch during the recent years is that of e-discovery. We’ve hosted a number of programs on the topic and it’s been fascinating to witness the dramatic advancements in e-discovery since the early years of my career as well as when the federal rules changed in 2006, which really upended the industry and began to drive an entire new business within the legal community.
We’ve also covered the emergence and importance of legal operations, as a critical and strategic function of modern law offices. You know, how specialized legal operations and optimization functions can drive significant efficiencies, insights, value and cost savings to the organization. And some of my favorite programs inclusive of all the ones you’ve been on Jamy, but the other ones have focused on strategies needed to attract and engage and retain the next generation of legal professionals. Much has changed since I entered the profession nearly 24 years ago and I’m encouraged that millennials and gen Z professionals recognize the importance of work-life balance, are motivated in large part not by money alone but by challenging and engaging work. They want workplace flexibility, they want to collaborate and create new opportunities together with other colleagues and jobs where they can make a positive impact and overall, employers in the legal field are adapting to the interest and expectations of these workers to maintain a strong legal team.
Jamy Sullivan: Thank you Chad, all great highlights. And now it’s time for a quick break.
Female 1: Is your legal team buried under rising workloads? Having trouble containing costs or staying ahead of changing regulations? Robert Half can help. We assist thousands of organizations including Fortune 500 companies and Am-Law law firms, offering an alternative to legal staffing and project management. Our flexible Talent Solutions can be customized and seamlessly integrated into your organization to help alleviate the time or budget management challenges facing your team. Connect with us today at roberthalf.com.
Jamy Sullivan: Welcome back to The Legal Report from Robert Half. Before the break, we were discussing some of the most memorable programs and guests from the years’ past. I’m curious how the legal report has evolved for the past decade since you started hosting the program, Chad.
Charles Volkert: Well Jamy, since we launched the program, we have stayed true to our goal, to deliver information to help legal professionals manage their careers, to assist them effectively in searching and securing jobs and to maintain the skills and competencies needed to be successful. You know, we’ve also focused on providing law firms and corporate legal departments emerging trends in the legal field to arm them with critical information that can help them enhance the value they offer to clients and to staff. So, we’ve continued to offer law practice, hiring in compensation trends in the legal field, as well as strategies for legal organizations, professionals and candidates to remain successful amid evolving changes within the business and legal landscapes. What shifted through the years has been, our area of focus based on changing business and legal realities. For example, the introduction of compliance matters, security and privacy issues, diversity and inclusion, strategies to attract, motivate and retain the next generation of legal professionals, very different technology trends just to name a few Jamy.
Jamy Sullivan: Well, we know the legal landscape has continued to evolve and it will continue to evolve but what has surprised you the most about changes in the legal profession since you first started recording this podcast?
Charles Volkert: I would go back to my earlier comment about technology. Probably one of the key factors that has most impacted the practice of law during the past 12 years is the evolution of technology within the sector. Again, starting with e-discovery but moving quickly to security and privacy related matters, there needs to be an enhanced and more effective delivery of legal services coming out of technology that we’re seeing continuing to grow, collaboration platforms within the legal space research as it pertains to how to gather more legal intelligence. The insights that artificial intelligence, AI, offers to refine litigation strategies, contract management predict legal outcomes and beyond, and really the continuation of innovating through technology has literally transformed the legal industry and I predict it will continue to do so for many, many years to come. I can remember during the first broadcast in 2010 and I continue to date myself as I think back all those years, we discussed cautious optimism regarding legal hiring on the heels of the Great Recession years. We talked about practice area experience that was in demand but tech competencies were not high on the list of essential skills at that time for lawyers. Fast forward to today, where tech skills are essential regardless of the legal position you hold and the ABA has adopted a duty of technology competence that requires lawyers to keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.
Jamy Sullivan: We definitely have seen technology evolved and I think all of us as former practicing lawyers have had to step up our game and the technology realm for sure and to your point, will know that will continue. Though we have no crystal ball, what trends do you see for the future of the legal profession?
Charles Volkert: Well don’t think any of these will be new to you Jamy because you are on the cutting edge of all things legal, but I would say a few things here that the ability to be resilient and agile is a key trend that will determine the success or failure of law firms, corporate legal departments and legal professionals as we move forward. As the pandemic has taught us, we all need to be able to quickly adapt to dynamic business realities, and the new opportunities that they may present. As I covered earlier, innovative technologies will continue to impact the legal industry. Offering workplace automation and efficiencies, cost-savings enhance client relationships, more strategy and effective legal perspectives than ever before. We are seeing companies focus on establishing a strong workplace culture that attracts, motivates and retains top legal talent and today, the personal and professional goals of legal professionals are much different than a decade ago. Regarding growth opportunities, workplace environment and expectations, qualities they value and a manager work-life balance and job search priorities are all top of mind. Legal employers need to continue to align their workplace to culture and the interests of their employees, their overall expectations and those who will enter the legal field in the year ahead and years ahead quite frankly, will be thinking about all of these as well.
Jamy Sullivan: I couldn’t agree with you more Chad. This has been a phenomenal discussion. I’ve really appreciated your partnership over the years that we’ve worked together, and I know we will have many more collaborations in the future. In the meantime, is there any other advice that you would like to impart as I take on the hosting duties?
Charles Volkert: Well, first I Echo your comments and right back at you partner, we’ve had a great working relationship and friendship over the years.
As I thought about turning over my hosting duties, I couldn’t think of anybody that would be able to take it up another level, well beyond me than you Jamy. And so, I am so happy and excited for you and I know that the Legal Report is in outstanding hands, so congratulations to you as the new host of The Legal Report for Robert Half and with 20 years of experience working for our company, you have tremendous insights to share and I know the listeners will be very excited about the program going forward. I certainly wouldn’t want to sit here and make any suggestions other than again, as you know, be yourself and bring exciting topics and even more exciting experts to the table in order to share their thoughts and perspectives with our listeners. I know that you’re going to do a wonderful job and I’m sure that you are already working on a number of new topics and lining up some great guests for future shows.
Jamy Sullivan: Well thank you Chad, I appreciate it more than you know, and value and will continue to value your insight in the years to come. So at this point, where can our audience reach you and do you have any new resources that you would like to share with them today?
Charles Volkert: Well, for our listeners out there, they can email me directly at [email protected]. Our listeners can also access a variety of resources on protiviti.com and I’m planning to host a new podcast in the near future to address specifically, legal consulting topics. So stay tuned for that and check the Protiviti website for our latest research and I can assure you Jamy, I’m going to be inviting you to that podcast as a guest and expert.
Jamy Sullivan: Well thank you in advance and I know we’re very excited to hear your new podcast. And my email is [email protected]. Thank you Chad for everything that you have done for the show and for officially handing over the microphone to me today, we are excited to see what you’ve got planned in your new role and we look forward to catching up with you on a future program. And thanks to our audience for listening.
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Join us again for the next edition of The Legal Report from Robert Half here on the Legal Talk Network as we discuss important trends impacting the legal field and legal careers. Until next time, be well.
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Outro: Thanks for listening to this podcast. Robert Half is a premier provider of Talent Solutions for the legal field. Robert Half is an equal opportunity employer including minorities, females, people with disabilities and veterans. Robert Half is not a law firm and does not provide legal representation. Robert Half project attorneys do not constitute a law firm among themselves.