Many lawyers aspire to be where Ana Tagvoryan sits now – at the center of cutting-edge legal issues that are integral to their clients’ futures and the economy at large. The chair of Blank Rome’s consumer privacy and Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) practice says the team’s work goes far beyond defending claims in court; it’s also rooted in developing strategies to anticipate issues arising from the ever-changing relationship between consumer demand, technology, and privacy rights. Tagvoryan, a Los Angeles--raised graduate of Pepperdine Law, has also been a leader on the diversity front, mentoring working moms striving to find the work-life balance that works for them.
Lawdragon: Please talk about the evolution of your practice. When and how did your business litigation practice begin to focus on this fascinating mix of data privacy, marketing, and consumer fraud issues?
Ana Tagvoryan: I remember I was in my senior year of high school and thinking about my long-term career path in conjunction with evaluating colleges and possible graduate schools. I wanted to go into marketing; my first-ever job was as a telemarketer when I was 16-years old. The idea of growing a business model around consumers’ wants and needs was fascinating. Then my father intervened and told me to go to law school. In my first year as a law student, I knew I wanted to be a litigator. But I also liked the business entrepreneur side of things, so I joined the Entrepreneurship & the Law program at my law school. I started as a first-year litigation attorney at DLA Piper straight out of law school, and before I knew it, I was helping corporate clients faced with multimillion-dollar class-action claims, based largely on consumer protection statutes.
I was in the right place at the right time, and had the passion for it. So I dove in. Since then, the mid-2000s, there has been an upward trend of such claims, always evolving and changing within and amongst jurisdictions all over the country. And the best part of handling such cases is that I become a trusted business consultant for my clients, working side-by-side to gain consumer trust and satisfaction.
LD: Were you always interested in these types of issues or were you moved in that direction by what your clients were facing?
AT: A little bit of both. The procedural aspects of class actions is very fascinating, and while I’ve been mostly on the defense side, I find the study of legislative protections and common law rights afforded to consumers an intellectually stimulating exercise.
LD: How do you stay ahead of the curve for your clients on evolving legal issues? What does it take to make sure you’re giving them advice that anticipates problems in addition to responding to claims already filed?
AT: I always say that there is no “I” in TEAM. I am blessed with an incredibly bright and dedicated group of colleagues who form our network of communication and advice. We read, read, and read some more, and have alerts set up for all news, filings, and agency actions with respect to the areas of law we practice. In short, we have a collaborative approach when it comes to meeting our clients’ needs and anticipating future issues.
LD: We assume the motivation to always be a step ahead is why your firm has a dedicated practice group for consumer privacy and TCPA. Can you please describe the group, how it operates, who is in it and how you feel it might separate Blank Rome’s services from other firms?
AT: When I joined Blank Rome we started with four attorneys handling consumer privacy and TCPA class action lawsuits. We are now a group of seven, spread across the nation and doing what we do best: advocating for reasonable interpretation of statutes and regulations that are prone to abuse by the plaintiffs’ bar. Our litigation group does more than just win motions in court. We structure creative and business-friendly class and individual settlements, advocate in front of federal agencies, and help clients build effective compliance programs that reduce risk and help them thrive. It’s not just lawyering; we are business partners!
LD: With all that your team is handling, are you seeing trends in your practice area based on the types of cases keeping you busy? Are there certain client issues taking up more of your time these days?
AT: I’m sure you have heard that technology is changing faster than the law can keep up – and that is so true. With more and more interactive and smart technology being offered to consumers and businesses alike to enhance customer relationships and connect with customers, there is high demand for balance between the customer’s experience satisfaction and privacy rights. We are seeing an upward trend in clients wanting to make sure their privacy policies and practices are up-to-date, and that they are delivering what customers expect and want. It’s a different kind of lawyering, and we have mastered the most efficient ways to go about providing such services to our clients.
LD: Looking at your education, with Loyola Marymount for undergrad and Pepperdine for law school, did you grow up in the Los Angeles area and did you always want to stay there?
AT: I love L.A. It’s where I grew up; but looking back, I probably should have gone to college out of state, to get a wider perspective and a more diverse education. Being the family girl that I am, however, I stayed close to home and made sure I spent as much time with my grandmothers as possible – I felt a sense of comfort knowing I could stay close and still receive a first-class education from our Los Angeles schools.
LD: Is there a reason why you chose Pepperdine over other options you may have had?
AT: I love the beach, and I wanted to stay close to home. Attending Pepperdine for law school was the best decision I’ve made. It all ties back to family – I had a great support system at Pepperdine and incredible mentors and friends with whom I am still very close today.
LD: As you rose through the ranks in the profession, did you encounter specific challenges unique to being a woman in a law firm environment? Is that why you founded MAMAs (Mother Attorneys Mentoring Association) LA or can you go into why you took on that initiative?
AT: Mothering is a lot of work. And then when you add to it a full-time career, it can become overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be. There are women who have mastered both roles, and I wanted to create a network of women who can help each other thrive in every aspect of their lives. We are good alone, but we are better together. And while Los Angeles can be a very large city, the community of women attorneys is well defined, and I hope to be able to grow this network into something bigger and more powerful one day.
LD: Are there specific steps or programs that Blank Rome has taken to not only recruit women and promote diversity but make sure that the partnership and leadership ranks are also diverse?
AT: Blank Rome has recently endeavored, as part of its annual Women’s Leadership Summit, to partner with clients and implement real-world programs and solutions within the firm to strengthen our diversity and inclusion initiatives, and to bolster our pro-bono efforts. This client-inspired and client-driven effort has brought the women lawyers of Blank Rome closer together and created a special bond with our female colleagues and clients who are in-house. This is a perfect example also of the conscious effort we as a firm are putting forth to promote and retain powerful female lawyers and other professionals within the firm, and I believe we have doubled and tripled our numbers in the four years I have been with the firm. I am so proud!
LD: Finally, what do you do to unwind or have fun away from the office?
AT: When I am not servicing our wonderful clients and advocating on their behalf, I am raising three strong, happy, and resilient children. My motto at work and at home is the same. And that is to "be your best self." I give it my all wherever I am, and that includes when I'm on the bike cycling my heart out. Haha.
About the author: John Ryan (email@example.com) is a co-founder and the Editor-in-Chief of Lawdragon Inc., where he oversees all web and magazine content and provides regular coverage of the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay. When he’s not at GTMO, John is based in Brooklyn. He has covered complex legal issues for 20 years and has won multiple awards for his journalism. View our staff page.