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Apply Your Law Skills to Human Resources – Alternative Careers for Lawyers

Today’s video guest, Kristine Pizzo, is a human resources executive and EEO officer at a nonprofit organization in New York. Kristine went to law school after first establishing a career in human resources with the US Olympic Committee.

The role of a human resources executive is increasingly becoming one of the more common alternative careers for lawyers due to the volume of employment law issues in business today. The duties of a human resources executive can include everything from handling employee compensation and benefits to helping employees negotiate workplace communications issues.

As Kristine tells us, HR Executives also design and develop programs that drive and support an organization’s recruiting, training, diversity and succession planning (including performance reviews and leadership development). Check it out:

  Become a JD Careers Out There member or join the JD Refugee® class for access to this interview plus more day-in-the-life career videos & transcripts.

Today’s Guest

HR Executive Kristine PizzoHuman Resources Executive Kristine Pizzo
Title: SVP Human Resources & EEO Officer at Not-For-Profit Organization
City: New York, NY
Law School: Touro Law Center in Central Islip, NY
College: St. John’s University in Queens, NY
Previous Career: Kristine worked in human resources for the US Olympic Committee before attending law school.
Videos: Human Resources Executive & Kristine’s Career Advice

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Human Resources Executive

Kristine tells us that it’s common for the role of a human resources executive to include being an EEO Officer.

EEO officers are charged with monitoring and enforcing an organization’s commitment to equal employment opportunity. That means supporting an environment where employees and applicants can be free of discrimination and harassment against their protected class (such as race, gender, disability) or retaliation for any protected activity that they engage in.

As you’ll see in the full video, Kristine tells us all about a typical day’s activities for a human resources executive, the skills you’ll need, how your law degree helps, as well as advice on how to break in to this path. So whether you’re generally trying to figure out what to do with a law degree or your goal is leaving the law while staying in a related field, then check out what Kristine has to say.



This is a preview of the video transcript on careers in human resources.

Join JD Careers Out There for access to full transcripts and career path interviews, plus professional development videos.

Luber: Hey everyone – Are you looking to make your law degree work for you without actually practicing law? We’re gonna look at an increasingly popular way to do that today. We’ll be exploring careers in employee relations – or human resources – so stick around!


Alright – As you may already know, at JDCOT we explore career paths you can do with a law degree – both in and out of law – and we do this to help you find a career that fits you – so you can love what you do.

I’m your host Marc Luber, the founder of JDCOT. I’ve always used my law degree to work in alternative careers for lawyers – first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003 and I’m excited for the opportunity to help you.

Today’s guest is Kristine Pizzo, who’s the Senior VP of Human Resources and an Equal Employment Opportunity Officer at a Not-For-Profit Organization in New York City.

Years ago, Kristine was working in HR at the US Olympic Committee where she wound up getting a lot of exposure to litigation and legal issues and she decided at that point to go to law school! After graduating from law school, she returned to the world of Employee Relations, but at a higher level. Kristine, welcome to JD Careers Out There!

Kristine Pizzo: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Luber: Kristine, can you give us an idea of what it means to be a human resources executive?

Kristine Pizzo: Well the HR role is really both tactical and strategic. So the operational side is pretty straightforward, it’s easy: make sure people get paid, they have their benefits, resolving issues, make sure they could get into the building – but that’s only a small part of what we do. While it is important, it still isn’t the majority of the work.

The majority is really designing and developing programs that relate to the core functional areas of human resources that drive and support the mission of the organization. And some of those areas are recruitment, compensation and benefits, training, succession planning, diversity. So those are the main functional areas.

And what we really do among those areas are we design programs around all of those. And we take a very metrics-driven approach. We do a lot of analysis, we analyze exit interviews, performance review data, some employee surveys, we interview employees, and what we want to do is we want to find out what is the base line of the workforce that we have so that when we do design the programs, it’s customized.

So, for example, if we’re developing a performance review, we don’t just simply pick simple categories to evaluate staff on. We’ve analyzed years of data to determine what the qualities that we need to be successful in the organization and what are those qualities that will further the organizational objectives.

We develop training programs around that, we create recruitment questions around that and all of that comports with all of our core competencies. And along with that, we develop communication and education strategies.

So we develop marketing materials, we do a lot of writing, a lot of training; I’m presenting all the time and throughout all of this we do work very closely with the President, the President’s office, senior staff because all of these programs affect every employee and really help them drive their results.

Luber: So that’s great. What would be an example of training that you would do as a human resources executive?

Kristine: So right now, we actually just redesigned our training program and it really focuses on T-skills; it’s a leveled curriculum where we target specific areas and people in the organization. So at the base line, we’ve developed certain training programs that everyone needs to know: such as recitation skills, project management, really sort of core skills; communication, things like that.

Then, as you go up through the levels, the classes become more difficult and help employees grow within their career. So at level two, maybe there is a course on how to influence or how to manage conflict.

And then going from there it’s, if you’re a manager, how to manage staff, how to deliver a performance review. And then, peppered into that, is some things that just relate to the organization specifically, such as how our operations work, a tour of our departments, learning about the different projects that we’re working on, so that an employee will not only know how to communicate or how to manage a project, but what are those projects. We really emphasize that you need to know your business at any level.

And then, at the top, we do executive coaching. So in order for us to be successful in HR, in order for our employees be successful, we have to train the top and make sure that they’re reinforcing all of the skills that we’ve built on in every level throughout the organization.

Luber: That’s excellent. I think the human element makes it really compelling. As a recruiter, I so often found that those lawyers working in employment law seemed happier than others thanks to that human element of the work.

Come check out the Full Interview with Kristine where she’ll tell us all about what HR Executives do – as well as Equal Employment Opportunity Officers. She’ll tell us what it’s like to be a human resources execitove, who makes the right fit for this path, how a JD helps you, and she also shares advice on how to break in.

You’ll want to join the JDCOT membership for access to the full deep-dive career interviews & transcripts that will help you find and land a career that fits you. Check out what people are saying about JDCOT by clicking here.

Thanks again for watching everybody. I’m Marc Luber and I’ll see ya soon.

[theme song]

©2019 Careers Out There

Does being an HR executive and EEO officer sound like a good fit for you? Let us know – share your thoughts in the Comments!

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JDCOT's self-reflection questionnaire 


Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

it's free!
You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.