Getting to Know Lawrence Laskey of Windham Professionals

The “Getting to Know” series is sponsored by Arbeit. Arbeit is a powerful, and easy to use communications platform that empowers businesses to reach more consumers. Innovative by nature, we are constantly listening to and understanding the businesses we partner with and developing long term industry relationships that allow us to be proactive in anticipating industry needs.

What does it say about a lawyer whose favorite sport is hockey and who makes his own hot sauce? It definitely sounds like someone who isn’t afraid of much. Lawrence Laskey has established himself as one of the most respected members of the ARM industry and reading his answers, it’s easy to see why. Read on to learn more about Larry and how teaching’s loss is the ARM industry’s big victory.

Name: Larry Laskey
Job Title: Vice President, General Counsel
Company: Windham Professionals
Length of Time at Current Position: Ten years
Length of Time in Industry: More than 20 years

How did you get your start in the industry?
A story that I guess ends with “timing is everything.” Over the years, a good friend who owned an agency with his dad in Chicago often talked about how much fun it would we worked together, but since I was pretty happy with my current position, nothing ever came of it. However, shortly after I had declined (for family reasons) a promotion and transfer to NYC, our families got together for dinner, during which he at one point again said “hey wouldn’t it be fun if…” and I said “… it sure would.” So here I am. We were both right!

What is your career highlight so far?
I think every opportunity to develop professionally and to learn from an intellectual challenge is a career highlight. While I can’t think of a specific one to call out, I can tell you that having been allowed actively to participate in industry organizations, such as the National Council of Higher Education Loan Resources (NCHER) and the Consumer Relations Consortium (CRC), has been the source of many of them.

When or how are you most productive?
Early or late in the day, when the phone calls and emails slow down.

Which industry professional do you admire most?
Actually there are many, especially the FDCPA defense lawyers who consistently work hard and creatively to win against the “stacked deck” presented by the current legal environment, but if I had to limit to one, I’d have to say Albert Rubin, the person who gave me my start in this business and acted as my mentor for many years. I learned early on never to go into a meeting with him unprepared and that lesson has stuck with me.

What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
So many lawyers in our industry do so much so well I’d be kidding myself to think I do any of it better, but one thing I think I do fairly well is analyze situations by assuming “everything is chess, nothing is checkers,” by which I mean thinking through all the alternative, plausible responses I might get to a point or position I’m considering, and what reply I would have for each, then adjusting my initial point or position accordingly to drive the best outcome. I also try to have a strong command of the facts upfront, for the same reason. To use a phrase that may be familiar to those who have driven in Chicago, I want to know where the potholes are so I don’t drive over them.

What do you like most about this industry?
Over time, I’ve worked with many types of people at all organizational levels and including competitors in several industries. I know I’m not the first to find this out, but ours is unique. People in our industry are among the brightest and most resourceful I’ve worked with. What makes them unique is their consistent openness about sharing their successes, their failures and their insights. Much of the knowledge and experience I draw on every day comes from them, many of whom have become friends. What I like most about this industry is that uniqueness.

What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
Some would suggest that’s an ill-advised question to ask a lawyer, but here goes. I wish that our conduct could be regulated under a set of rules that addressed and sought to alleviate the real potential for harm to consumers who act in a reasonable manner rather than one that engenders the uncertainty, inconsistency and, in some cases, absurdity, under which we must navigate today (and, when you think about it, can actually harm consumers who need the information and assistance we can provide) by creating the “perfect storm” strict liability, “least sophisticated consumer” interpretive standards and the attraction of attorney fee awards.

If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
At my age? I’d be playing hockey six days a week and driving the Zamboni for pizza money. A bit more seriously, I always wanted to teach. I had an opportunity years ago to teach business law at a community college; it was a fantastic experience. Teachers are not appreciated for the important job we’ve entrusted to them and the hard work they put into it, but certainly that work can be quite rewarding.

Describe a typical work day.
Any GC will tell you there is no such thing as a “typical” workday. Coffee from the Keurig and at my “desk” (since COVID-19, in what used to be the nursery) by 6:30am going though emails and wrapping up whatever I “had to” but didn’t complete the day before; phone calls and emails swapping news with business contacts/industry friends; then on to current “projects,” interspersed with attending conferences (including Zooms, though still not a big fan of video-until I get a haircut), research (right now, State COVID-related rules and electronic communications), working on our defense to (always meritless, of course) FDCPA claims; participating in industry groups and fielding whatever else presents itself during the day, hopefully taking a break to clear my head by walking around the block with my wife. Workdays usually end later than I’d like, but I’m sure that sentiment is familiar to most of your readers.

What is your guilty pleasure?
I’ve got at least two to which I’ll admit; homemade pizza, which I make for dinner most Sundays, and hot sauce, which I also make, but only over the backyard fire pit because of (unproven) family protests regarding air quality when I used to make it in the kitchen.

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What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
That you can be most effective by working out of the spotlight, staying under the radar, though I guess agreeing to answer these questions shows I don’t always follow good advice. A friend of mine put it best when he told me something said to him by Sen. Claiborne Pell, “I don’t care who gets my way.”

What are you currently reading?
Ireland” by Frank Delaney.

What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you
That although I say it a lot, I don’t really want to retire to be a greeter at a hardware store (or drive the Zamboni).

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
I’d like to see the hot seat offered to Jeff Turner at Surdyk, Dowd and Turner.

The “Getting to Know” series is sponsored by Arbeit. Arbeit is a powerful, and easy to use communications platform that empowers businesses to reach more consumers. Innovative by nature, we are constantly listening to and understanding the businesses we partner with and developing long term industry relationships that allow us to be proactive in anticipating industry needs.

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