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Chris Jagelchris-jagel

Partner, Chief Executive Officer

Harris Beach PLLC

Years in current role:28

What do you enjoy most about your role?

As CEO, I get a unique vantage point from which I get to see all our people at work across all of our offices. What I so appreciate is the quality of our people — how good-natured, cooperative, friendly, supportive, and intelligent they are. People are anxious to help and pitch in to do what they can for the firm, and that has been especially evident during the pandemic. More generally, I enjoy being able to support and guide the firm, which turns 165 years old this year, and work to continuously improve our service to clients, our culture, and the ways we operate.

What do you see as the biggest changes in the legal industry in the next 3-5 years?

I think we will see increased competition from alternative legal service providers and new applications of technology, like machine learning and artificial intelligence, which may redefine the traditional practice of law. We recognized this trend a few years ago when we launched our Caetra.io subsidiary, which offers a software-as-a-service that provides legally vetted controls and policies for cybersecurity and data privacy compliance. We’ve learned a lot from this initiative, and there’s no question that the application of technology to the practice of law is going to continue to grow. I also think that COVID has accelerated some of the changes that had already started, such as an increase in remote work for attorneys and professional staff. All these changes give us a chance to rethink and reimagine the use of our physical office space as we move forward.

What advice would you give law students who are graduating this year?

Make sure to pursue a career that interests you. If you are doing something that challenges and inspires you, you can always evolve, no matter what changes happen in the world or your chosen position. Working on something you are passionate about will help you succeed. Keep learning all the time, as much as you can. Change will be your only constant, so keep looking for new things to master, new ways to contribute, and be prepared to pivot. Finally, look to work in a place where the culture feels right — an organization you are proud to be associated with. A good culture is key to professional success and satisfaction, as well as personal happiness.

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