Features

Larry Lawrence – AT&T  

Navigating organizational change 

Being an in-house attorney for a company as big as AT&T offers a unique and challenging opportunity to practice law within the corporate environment. AT&T, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, operates in a highly regulated industry, making the role of an in-house attorney all the more critical.  

Larry Lawrence | Assistant Vice President & Senior Legal Counsel | AT&T  

Larry Lawrence | Assistant Vice President & Senior Legal Counsel | AT&T

“My role requires legal expertise, strategic thinking and the ability to navigate a constantly evolving business environment,” says Larry Lawrence, the company’s assistant vice president and senior legal counsel in charge of labor and employment issues spanning the expansive western region of the U.S.  

Drawing upon his extensive legal background, Lawrence navigates the intricate landscape of employment law, ensuring that AT&T complies with statutory requirements while mitigating potential legal risks. 

As a trusted advisor, Lawrence fosters collaboration among various departments, including HR, ethics, and investigative teams, to address employee policy issues. By upholding ethical standards and promoting a culture of inclusivity within the company, Lawrence safeguards AT&T’s reputation and maintains its commitment to a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace. 

With tens of thousands of employees under his purview in the Western region, Lawrence’s responsibilities include spearheading efforts to provide accommodations to employees with disabilities. From implementing workplace modifications to facilitating remote work options, Lawrence ensures that AT&T remains inclusive and supportive of all employees. 

“I’m dedicated to ensuring that AT&T fosters an inclusive and supportive environment for all employees,” Lawrence tells Vanguard during an interview from his office in March.  

Empowering Employees 

At the forefront of Lawrence’s responsibilities lie two transformative projects to reshape AT&T’s workforce. The first project centers on reimagining the company’s operational structure by consolidating dispersed work locations into strategically positioned “core hubs.” Recognizing the inefficiencies stemming from a decentralized workforce, Lawrence collaborates closely with HR and internal stakeholders as AT&T works to redefine its operational footprint.  

Simultaneously, Lawrence is spearheading efforts to accommodate disabled employees grappling with post-COVID-related challenges and other medical restrictions. Understanding the importance of addressing employees’ needs, he partners with HR to assist employees with reasonable workplace accommodations, including social distancing protocols, remote work options, or other changes to the workplace.   

“By tailoring solutions to meet the diverse needs of AT&T’s workforce, we ensure that employees are empowered to thrive in their roles while maintaining business continuity,” Lawrence explains.  

Through these initiatives, Lawrence aims to optimize workflow, enhance efficiency and facilitate smoother transitions for employees as they navigate the evolving dynamics of the post-pandemic workplace. By prioritizing employee well-being and fostering a supportive work environment, Lawrence underscores AT&T’s commitment to harnessing the full potential of its workforce while driving sustainable business growth. 

“At AT&T, we’re focused on reshaping our workforce through strategic initiatives that prioritize efficiency and employee well-being. ” Lawrence says. 

A culture of collaboration 

Amidst the unprecedented challenges brought about by the pandemic, Lawrence demonstrated exemplary leadership in navigating AT&T through legal complexities and ensuring the well-being of its workforce. One of the key initiatives he supported was implementing a vaccine mandate, which aimed to safeguard the health and safety of employees while mitigating the spread of COVID-19 within the organization.  

Additionally, Lawrence and his team are addressing emerging concerns surrounding the use of AI in hiring decisions, ensuring that ethical considerations are prioritized to maintain fairness and equity in the employment process. 

Recognizing the importance of maintaining a human-centered approach in personnel decisions, Lawrence proactively works to uphold the principles of fairness and equity across all employment practices. By championing policies and practices prioritizing employees’ well-being and rights, Lawrence fosters a culture of inclusivity and respect within AT&T. 

“A diverse workplace is an important asset, as it values and brings employees together. That’s the secret to a successful, thriving workplace,” says Lawrence.   

Lawrence is committed to fostering communication and collaboration among corporate employees, understanding that internal cohesion drives organizational success. Leveraging his extensive expertise in strategy and teamwork, he guides his legal team in developing effective communication strategies tailored to overcome geographical barriers and enhance collaboration. By creating open communication channels and promoting a culture of transparency and innovation, Lawrence cultivates an environment where employees feel empowered to share ideas, collaborate effectively, and drive positive change within AT&T. 

Winning the game 

Lawrence’s path to success at AT&T has been shaped by pivotal moments and strategic career choices. After earning a degree in political science from UCLA and a JD from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, Lawrence embarked on a career journey defining his legal expertise. 

Spending over nine years as an associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius provided Lawrence with a solid foundation in employment litigation. This tenure equipped him with a comprehensive understanding of legal intricacies and molded his approach to practicing law. Transitioning to a counsel role at Seyfarth Shaw, Lawrence further honed his skills in employment litigation, affirming his passion for legal advocacy. 

Although initially drawn to litigation, Lawrence’s experience in private practice prompted a reassessment of his career trajectory. Recognizing the challenges of law firm life, he strategically pivoted towards in-house counsel roles where he could provide advice and counsel to prevent litigation, aligning his career aspirations with his strengths and preferences. 

In November 2017, Lawrence embraced a new chapter by joining AT&T—the move allowed him to leverage his extensive legal background in a dynamic corporate setting, marking a significant milestone in his career journey. 

Lawrence’s journey underscores the importance of adaptability and strategic planning in navigating the legal profession. Through perseverance, strategic decision-making, and a commitment to excellence, he has emerged as a trusted legal advisor at AT&T, exemplifying the rewards of a well-planned career path. 

“My time at AT&T has really taught me that being a good lawyer is not about being right about the law. As a trusted advisor, you really have to help the business understand the problem and guide them to a solution that best matches their goals,” Lawrence says.  

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring II 2024 Edition here.

Published on: April 9, 2024

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