The Great Communicator
With each employment-related matter that comes across her desk, Transition Strategies’ Robin F. Bond, Esq., uses the timeless art of communication to get results for clients
by Bill Donahue

The same four-word sentence falls off the tongue of Robin F. Bond, Esq., on a daily basis: “Tell me your story.”

Considering Bond’s background prior to becoming an attorney, this should come as no surprise. She studied journalism at Indiana University, and the skills she learned there have served her—and her clients—incredibly well in the years since.

Today, Bond is the principal and founder of Transition Strategies LLC, an employment law firm based in Chesterbrook. Her ability to listen to clients’ stories and, in turn, retell those stories so effectively, is the primary reason she has become one of the region’s most decorated attorneys in the area of employment law.

“What I do is communicate, so I use those [journalism] skills every day,” she says. “I listen intently to what my clients are saying, and my only goal is to get them what they want. I have to figure out one thing: How do I tell the story of this client in a compelling manner that resonates with my listener? I have to do it in a way that you—meaning the listener—actually hear me, listen to me, and want to work with me.”

Bond has proven herself to be a capable ally to clients, most of whom are employees at odds with their employers, in the full gamut of workplace-related matters. Her areas of expertise include the following:

* Negotiating significant deal improvements for individual executives in new employment agreements, equity ownership and change-of-control agreements with publicly traded companies, as well as with companies owned by private equity and venture capital investors;
* Achieving positive results in contentious noncompetition agreements with former employers so employees can successfully move on to new positions elsewhere;
* Successfully negotiating amicable resolutions of situations involving allegations of age, race and gender discrimination, as well as retaliation claims; and
* Enhancing the financial outcome of severance agreements for at-will and contract executive employees in diverse industries, including finance, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, education, health care, sales and technology.

In the 16 years Bond has been practicing employment law, she has represented more than 3,000 clients, meaning she has amassed quite a “database of knowledge” to guide her in interacting with employees and employers alike. Between earning her juris doctor from the University of Pittsburgh and founding Transition Strategies in the late 1990s, Bond spent 10 years honing her skills as in-house counsel for major health care organizations in Pennsylvania, handling complex transactions, information-systems contracts and employment law issues. She also served the U.S. Air Force as an attorney and legal advisor to the Air Force Surgeon General’s staff—an experience she continues to draw upon today.

“With every client my goal is to provide strategic and tactical advice,” she says. “It’s just like the military: You have to develop the right strategy, and then you have to have the right tactics in order to execute that strategy effectively.”

In the years since, she has also seen the business world shift dramatically. Trends include the rising importance of cyber-security and the prominence of private-equity firms in business acquisitions, both of which trends have become new areas of focus for her. Also, although hiring continues to increase in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Bond has seen an uptick in the number of clients who have come to her with claims of discrimination, particularly related to age.

“What I try to do with these cases is to think along the lines of: Can this relationship be saved, and is there a way to help this employee stay employed?” she says. “Rather than ‘Let’s get you out of there,’ it’s ‘Can I turn this around?’ It’s a tough market for older folks. Statistically, older workers are out of work longer between jobs and then, when they are re-employed, they’re typically employed at lower pay rates.”

Although many clients come to her after tensions with their employers have already reached critical mass, she says it’s best to seek the wisdom of someone with her expertise at the first sign of trouble.

“If there is one great piece of advice I can offer, it’s this: Do not delay getting legal advice when you feel something is just not right at work,” she says. “Maybe it’s all of a sudden you’re not invited to important meetings or you receive a surprisingly poor performance review. Act fast—that’s when you have an opportunity to turn things around.

“I can work behind the scenes invisibly, so no one knows you’re working with a lawyer, and write communications between you and your boss,” she continues. “If coaching doesn’t work, I’ll ratchet it up. I’ll then get involved as a lawyer, negotiating, and if that doesn’t work, then I’ll resort to administrative claims or litigation. … I believe you start out nice and go from there. If there’s a lawsuit, that’s the last resort, and if we get there it’s not because my client is being unreasonable.”

She cites one client, a 60-year-old salesman who believed he was being pushed out of his position because of his age, despite his strong sales performance. With Bond’s involvement, she not only helped him maintain his job but also helped him earn an award given for elite sales performance. In another instance, Bond helped a female client in a male-dominated financial services industry maintain her job and negotiate a 20 percent increase in her compensation. She also helped a departing executive realize the value of more than $1 million in equity that he otherwise would not have obtained.

“Not every situation will result in a 20 percent pay raise or millions [of dollars] in benefits, but I always try,” she says. “I take the hand that was dealt to me and play it the best I can.”

Clients aren’t the only ones who have appreciated her efforts. Bond has been named a top-rated employment and labor attorney multiple times by Super Lawyers (2013 to 2015), Best Attorneys of America (2015), Main Line Today (selected as the Top Employment Lawyer of Philadelphia’s Main Line for both 2014 and 2015) and Suburban Life (selected as a Top Attorney every year since 2010). In addition, Bond was named the Delaware Valley’s 2015 HR Consultant of the Year by local chapters of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Bond’s expertise has also resulted in her appointment to prominent positions apart from her practice. She was a member of PNC Bank’s advisory board for the Women’s Financial Services Network from 2011 to 2014. More recently, she earned a place on the “Value Creation Team” of the Radnor-based private equity firm NewSpring Capital, which brought her on as a human resources consultant for its portfolio companies because of her background in private equity and her expertise in her field.

“When it comes down to it, I love what I do,” she adds. “In order to be happy in life, you have to feel and know what you do [for a living] is purposeful and makes a difference. I truly enjoy what I do, and I feel that way every day.”

Robin F. Bond, Esq.
Transition Strategies LLC
88 Militia Hill Drive
Chesterbrook, PA 19087

Photograph by Jody Robinson