I had the opportunity to interview my good friend Andy Laver who is about to take center stage as the co-chair of the 2019 LMA Conference, which will be held in Atlanta on April 8-10, 2019.

To say that Andy is active in LMA would be the understatement of the year. In fact, his list of LMA accomplishments and volunteer activities is quite impressive. Andy was the president of the LMA Metro Philadelphia Chapter in 2014, joined the LMA’s Governance Committee in 2015, served as co-chair of the 2nd Annual Philadelphia Conference in 2016, served on the 2017 LMA Annual Conference (Las Vegas) Advisory Committee and is currently serving as a co-chair of the LMA Governance Committee (ok, now I’m going to take a breath!). In addition, in 2018, Andy served as a co-host of the Facebook Live reporting team for the 2018 LMA Conference in New Orleans along with me (more on that in a bit), following an successful LMA Facebook Live launch at the 2017 Conference in Las Vegas. 

Andy is the quintessential LMA volunteer. He has been able to accomplish an extraordinary amount on a local and regional level, and is now applying those skills and relationships that he made on a broader platform as he embarks on his biggest and most visible role yet – serving as the 2019 LMA Conference co-chair. (I think it’s worth noting that Andy is the youngest-ever conference co-chair – an amazing accomplishment that I hope demonstrates to all of our volunteers that you can make your mark in this organization very quickly if you work hard, are committed and have great ideas.) The sky is the limit in the LMA for those who want a leadership role.

As I mentioned, some of you may have seen Andy and me at the 2018 LMA Annual Conference in New Orleans armed with a microphone and a camera crew led by Rob Kates where we served as the LMA Facebook Live reporting team. Some of you may have been confused by it, some may have been amused and others actually enjoyed our live reporting. We certainly did! We had the opportunity to interview LMA leadership, speakers, sponsors and other members of the LMA community over the course of the conference, gaining a unique perspective on the event. We are excited to announce that Andy and I will be back together as your Facebook Live reporters in Atlanta in 2019 along with Rob and his crew to bring you live coverage of the conference, so stay tuned for more details on all we have planned for you this spring.

But let’s get back to Andy…. I got to know him pretty well during our co-hosting gig in NOLA, so I was excited to have the opportunity to interview him for this Q&A. Read below to learn more about his LMA volunteer experience and how it has benefited his career, as well as his career path and what we can expect in #LMA19.

Congrats on being named LMA19 Conference co-chair! Can you tell us about how you got involved in LMA leadership?

Andy: I am so excited and honored to be co-chairing the 2019 LMA Annual Conference in Atlanta with Erin Meszaros. When LMA 2019 President Cynthia Voth offered me this opportunity, I could not accept it quickly enough. The conference is the most substantial event of the LMA calendar and is a date I look forward to every year. I consider my role in this year’s conference to be a major career milestone.

I became actively involved in LMA back in 2011 when I self-nominated to help out at the local chapter level and began chairing the website committee. Next, I was tapped on the shoulder and asked to serve as the president of the LMA Metro Philadelphia Chapter, a position I proudly fulfilled from 2013 through 2016 (serving one year as the president-elect, one as the president and two as the immediate past president). Since that time, I have proudly co-chaired the 2016 Annual Conference Pre-Conference QuickStart, co-chaired the LMA Metro Philadelphia 2nd Annual Educational Conference, served on the 2017 Annual Conference Advisory Committee and have co-chaired the Governance Committee since 2016.

What do you wish you could tell your younger professional self?

Andy: Be prepared to be told no, to be rejected and to be dismissed. It is up to you to continue to learn, to teach and become the trusted advisor that will be told yes, will be accepted and will be welcomed at the table. Looking back in my career (to date), I do not think that I was ever trying to see the forest of my career through the trees of my current job and, had I done that, I may have been able to deal with some of those bumps with more aplomb.

What do you love most about what you do?

Andy: Honestly, I love the people I work with on a day-to-day basis. Each day brings such energy and creativity (and challenges!) that my attorneys and colleagues make every day an unpredictable new adventure. I really cherish those times when I see the lightbulb go off for many of the attorneys with whom I work when they are able to reconcile the advice and guidance I’ve given them to the actual results they are seeing in their practice. I have also encouraged several of my current attorneys to leave their comfort zone to better expand their business development efforts. The genuine gratitude they’ve expressed to me once they see the return on that risk is what makes a lot of what I do worth it.

How did you get started in legal marketing?

Andy: Back in 2007, I was leading the paralegal department at a mid-sized Philadelphia insurance defense firm. I realized that, after working in a law firm part-time since high school and full time after college, that I no longer wanted to live under the thumb of the billable hour. I knew that I needed to find a way to combine my 10+ years of legal experience with my communications and marketing background and degree. A relative was working at another Philadelphia law firm at the time and invited me to join her at a LMA Philadelphia educational lunch. Upon arrival, I knew that these were my people and this was where I needed to be. I networked my rear end off to land my first in-house job at Fox Rothschild and the rest is history!

Without a doubt my success can be directly correlated to the LMA and the amazing network of professional and lifelong friends I have made along the way. This is such an inclusive, welcoming and helpful association and nearly every single person I’ve met and worked with is willing to share and help so that we can all be successful in our jobs while also excelling in our careers. Without my core group of best friends and my wide-reaching extended group of “LMA family” members, I am not certain where I would be at this point in my life and career.

What can you tell us about what’s planned for LMA19?

Andy: The 2019 LMA Annual Conference in Atlanta from April 8-10, 2019 is going to be one of the best conferences yet. While I cannot divulge all of the great stuff that will be taking place this spring, I can tell you that we’ve already confirmed an amazing keynote speaker, we have carved out an additional “general session” for all attendees that will directly speak to a hot topic affecting law firms right now and have secured a great mixed use space for the Tuesday night conference reception. I already cannot wait!

I guarantee that if you have attended any LMA conference over the past few years and provided feedback via any avenue (conference app, post-conference email, social media, etc.), Erin, Cynthia and I—in conjunction with Kristy Perkins and the entire Annual Conference Advisory Committee—read each and every one of those comments and took them to heart when not only working with LMA on the overall conference experience, but specifically on the agenda for the educational sessions. I am anxiously awaiting the day this fall when everyone can see the full agenda once the conference brochures are sent out to our members.

BONUS question: It’s undeniable that you and I hit it off as the Facebook Live reporters. Why do you think the coverage resonated so much with the LMA audience?

Andy: That’s a good question, Stef—thanks for asking (eye roll). I think that many of the viewers from afar—besides being interested in the action they were missing out on in New Orleans—were able to feel how genuinely excited both you and I were about the entire conference experience and could not get enough of the coverage we provided. Honestly, I even heard from many attendees that were in New Orleans at the 2018 conference that they enjoyed watching the videos once they were back in their hotel rooms later that night to see what they missed out on and to get tips for the next day. It truly was a tool not only for those that were unable to attend but for those on the ground in the Big Easy as well. 

Looking ahead towards the 2019 conference in Atlanta, I anticipate even more Facebook Live coverage with an experienced team of reporters, additional check-ins from the exhibitor hall and breakout sessions, speaker interviews and a few more surprises that are already in the works. Having hosted the Facebook Live coverage for the past two conferences now, I cannot express how proud I am that these videos have grown from a “back of the napkin” discussion between me, Rob Kates and the LMA crew in 2017 after we successfully launched it locally at the LMA Philadelphia 2nd Annual Educational Conference. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and I look forward to even more success for this initiative going forward.

Registration is open for the 2019 LMA Conference in Atlanta. Learn more and join us!