With Amy Vallance at the helm, MDK’s unique culture continues to embody our values of respect, creativity, engagement, collaboration and advancement. Her standout efforts have been recognized with national and local best workplace awards. We think MDK is a pretty great place to work, but don't take our word for it- read Amy’s take on Team MDK!
MDK: Tell us about your career path and where you started. How has your career progressed?
Amy Vallance: I came to MDK in 2008 with education and experience in human resources. I was focusing on talent acquisition, so I did a lot of recruiting. From there I moved into a generalist role, working with benefits, payroll, and training. In 2010, I accepted the Human Resources Manager role, and I've been overseeing the group as the Executive Director of Human Resources ever since.
MDK: Can you describe your experience as MDK has grown and your team has expanded, and how you've been involved in these developments?
Amy: When I started, there wasn't a formal onboarding or training program so those are things that I have helped build over the years. As we have grown, we hired a lot of people and with that we had to formalize a lot of our processes.
Beginning around 2010, our clients requested specialized training in order for our employees to access their systems and carry out specific tasks within the files. We've worked closely with our compliance department to create and implement this training program, which has become a significant area of focus for us.
MDK: What are the things that you're looking for when you're recruiting?
Amy: Recruiting is interesting because there's not a lot of people that have experience in our industry. In our hiring approach, we focus on a culture match: individuals who value customer service, prioritize quality, and genuinely share an interest in the legal sector, aspiring to deliver their best for our clients.
MDK: In that case, onboarding and training is critical.
Amy: It is! Once we identify a new team member and define their role in the organization, we craft a comprehensive 90-day orientation program tailored to their needs. This program encompasses essential training, including internal procedures for navigating Casee, our case management system. Our MDK mission and values curriculum is woven into their daily routine, alongside client-centric training aimed at meeting protocol requirements.
We still go through internal policies, but orientation includes trainings that people need to understand the culture at MDK- what we expect in terms of customer service and interacting with our clients, communicating with clients and courts, and all the way down to how to do a specific task depending on what your role is. It's definitely evolved over the past 14 years!
MDK: How do you feel that process has created a better working environment?
Amy: I think it's made things better because everyone knows what's expected and how to fit into the team. Whether you're an attorney or an intern, you follow a similar orientation and do a lot of the same training modules. Knowing that we all have to do these courses creates a positive atmosphere. It's like everyone's on the same page, feeling valued and respected. We all understand that we're in this together, working towards the same goals.
MDK: What is something that makes MDK unique?
Amy: One of the things that makes MDK unique is the caliber of people that we have working here. We hire people that are genuinely interested in what we do. Quality is something that we strive for. When we're hiring, we look for people that also have that same value. I think that sets us apart from a lot of our competitors and other firms in this industry. We take time with who we hire and make sure that we hire the right people that are going to do a good job for our clients.
Culture and Values
MDK: Can you talk a little bit about how the culture has helped you and what you do, but also helped the people here at MDK?
Amy: I think the culture has helped me and what I do because it's a great culture and it makes it easier to recruit when you can genuinely tell candidates that this is a great place to work. When people enjoy where they work, they tend to be happier, they tend to feel more fulfilled in their career, and they tend to be more loyal and want to stay.
I think it's helped our current employees in that regard. That's why we have so many people that have been here since the beginning. But again, from my perspective, and in my job, it makes it a lot easier to hire people.
MDK: Can you talk about the sense of respect that goes on at MDK?
Amy: I think of respect as the primary value that informs our other values of advancement, creativity, collaboration and engagement. People feel respected when they feel heard, and when they have a voice and can speak up. That's something that's really encouraged here for all employees.
MDK: Let's talk a little bit about the importance of thriving on challenges.
Amy: I believe the people who really excel in our team are those who embrace challenges. They thrive when presented with problems and have limited time to find solutions. We work together as a team, utilizing our diverse strengths to tackle and overcome obstacles effectively.
When looking for candidates, we value flexibility and adaptability because our work environment is dynamic, and changes occur daily. We may be focused on one project one day, and suddenly shift to another project the next. Being able to go with the flow is crucial.
MDK: That sounds like a great fit for clients. How does this culture and employee retention benefit clients?
Amy: The culture we've fostered creates a happy and motivated workforce. When employees enjoy their work, they naturally perform at their best, providing our clients with the best possible results.
Life at MDK
MDK: It's fantastic to see that challenge is a driving force for you. What do you value most about this company personally?
Amy: The people I work with are what I value most. There's a great sense of respect among the team, and that makes me feel valued and important within the organization. The strong teamwork and camaraderie are invaluable to me.
MDK: Now, let me read you the company's mission statement: "MDK: creates uncommon paths to success for our clients and ourselves." How do you interpret that?
Amy: It's an interesting mission statement. When I think of "uncommon paths," it aligns with our ability to help individuals develop their careers, especially when they are uncertain about their direction. We often hire people who are unsure about their career paths, and we support and guide them to reach their goals. That, to me, relates to the mission statement and what my team accomplishes by assisting others on their journeys.
MDK: Can you talk about how your team helps foster growth opportunities for employees? How do you show that when it's time to evolve, MDK can grow with you?
Amy: A lot of our employees will start out as legal assistants and then they end up getting promoted. As they gain that knowledge, they move into senior level positions. We offer leadership training as well. If someone is interested in going down the management path, we offer additional training and mentorship related to leadership. Leaders can also progress from managing a small team all the way up to managing a department, or learning new subject matter and lines of business, if that's something that they're looking for.
MDK: How do you feel leadership empowers and mentors teams to do well here?
Amy: One thing that I've seen here is the leadership really listens to employees. We are always asking for feedback and ideas or suggestions. That's not something that you see in every organization. It's certainly not something that I had experienced before coming here. Everyone truly has a voice and leadership values the feedback from employees.
MDK: Thank you so much for your time today! It was great speaking with you!
Amy: Thank you!
To learn more about Amy, please click here.
This publication is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an opinion of Manley Deas Kochalski LLC.
Do not rely on this publication without seeking legal counsel.