Susan E. Volkert, LL.M. '99
Susan Volkert sees every day as a new opportunity to learn. “You’re never ‘done’ being a lawyer,” she explains. “The world and the laws are continuously changing. You can't stop learning about it.” It’s a philosophy that has been key to her success throughout her career.
After many years working in both the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's office, Volkert decided to expand her focus on health law as an executive and Deputy General Counsel to the pharmaceutical company that is now Sanofi. Her main priority was to manage litigation, create and implement compliance programs and practice preventative law.
“The management team I worked for was comprised of real visionaries,” she says. “My directive was to create programs that not only kept the company in total legal and regulatory compliance with the law but above compliance. This was all before Sarbanes-Oxley changed the industry. We were ahead of the curve and helped set the bar for others on how to be compliant,” she says. “I learned so much – it was truly a career-shaping time for me.”
When her company evolved to focus solely on life sciences, Volkert saw another opportunity to learn more. “I approached my boss and told him I could do more for the company if I had my LL.M. degree,” she says. “I chose Seton Hall Law because of the reputation of the school and because of Professor Kathleen Boozang. She is brilliant and a prolific writer. I was excited about the chance to study under her.”
“I was a member of the very first LL.M. class – there were only five of us,” she recalls. “One of the best things about the program was that the professors had such diverse and pragmatic experience. Not only were they distinguished scholars but they also had experience out in the working world addressing real problems. It was such a broadening experience.”
Today, as a partner at DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick & Cole, LLP, Volkert concentrates herpractice on employment law and health law issues. “The LL.M. program really helped me define what I wanted to do. DeCotiis has a very robust health law practice and the beauty of my job is that I use my litigation background to address the emerging and complex fields in health law, and employment and labor law. In most law firms you’d have to choose one or the other,” she says. “Health law isn’t just one discipline – it’s antitrust, employment law, corporate law, hospital law – and with my background and LL.M., I can jump in there and synthesize the complexity of all these issues.”
Volkert has successfully represented health care entities and professionals, including major medical centers and health providers, in a variety of matters ranging from investigations and compliance audits to suits brought by a physician or preparing the defense for suits brought against a provider. As a member of the firm, she participates in the Medical Society of New Jersey’s legal defense benefit program, and has represented physicians before the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners.