Teeing Off in Florida

Zandria Conyers, general counsel. Photo: Ashley Wright of Soulrae Photography.

When Zandria Conyers showed up to the LPGA, she had never picked up a golf club. Inside her journey as general counsel, and what she’s learned on and off the fairway.

When Zandria Conyers joined the legal department of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) in 2007, she’d never set foot on a golf course—but it wasn’t her game that got her the job. Below, Conyers explains what she’s brought to, and learned from, the LPGA.

Did you always intend to be a lawyer?

Conyers: I never wanted to do anything else. My mother was a criminal litigator, and my earliest memories are of going to court with her and being utterly captivated. I’d sit in the back of the courtroom with coloring books and crayons and instructions not to talk. She’d turn around and I would have moved up to the front row. It was so powerful, I’d go home and play court with my stuffed animals. I’d be the judge and say, “Order in the court!” and, “Tell your witness to be silent!”

How Golf has changed my legal game with

ZANDRIA CONYERS

“Five years ago, I wouldn’t have seen myself in the golf industry, but I’ve learned that if you have a solid foundation of legal and business skills, you can apply them to any industry.”

“As an international business, golf has forced me to step outside my comfort zone and heightened my ability to tailor my work to meet the needs of businesses operating within different cultures.”

“In golf, as in any sport, it’s not as easy on the women’s side as it is on the men’s side to find a middle ground between advancing the business interests and protecting the legal interests, but my job requires the flexibility to do both.”

So you went to law school immediately after college?

Conyers: No, I actually worked for three years in public relations, which I studied at the University of Florida, because I knew public speaking and writing skills would help me later in my legal career. I went to work for one of the largest newspapers in Florida, creating awareness for a new initiative. That merged into branding, which led to strategy: What will this initiative be when it grows up?

How did you end up at law school?

Conyers: Even when I was studying PR as an undergraduate, I knew the next step would be law, and after a few years, it was just time. I went to American University, Washington College of Law in Washington, DC.

What appealed to you about the LPGA?

Conyers: It combined all of my past legal experiences. My first job after finishing law school was as a mergers & acquisitions attorney with the Federal Trade Commission  in Washington, DC. In M&A, I began to understand corporations from a business perspective. You’re asking, does this merger make sense? What impact will it have on the market? From there, I went into a different kind of consumer advocacy, working at the governor’s office in Atlanta, Georgia. There, I looked at things from the opposite perspective: Is this company being a good corporate citizen? Are its products safe? Is its advertising honest? Now, at the LPGA, I consider myself a businessperson with a specialty in the law—someone who has a very good understanding of not only how businesses
develop and grow, but also their market impact.

Have you always been interested in golf?

Conyers: No. I was an occasional watcher, but I didn’t know anything about the rules and hadn’t played. But I’ve always been into sports. Initially, playing and having an interest in sports was my way of bonding with my dad, and I played a lot in high school and college. I did everything from boxing to Roller Derby.

What got you to the LPGA?

Conyers: It started with the roller derby. Leagues are very grass roots. While there’s a national governing body, each league has to do its own PR and legal work. I did a lot of that for my league: drafting and negotiating sponsorship, facilities, and merchandising agreements, that sort of thing. And I really fell in love. I thought it was an awesome way for me to merge my passion for sports with my love of business and the law. Around that time, a friend of mine sent me a posting for the job at the LPGA.

Were you worried about being a nongolfer?

Conyers: I remember coming down to Daytona Beach for the interview and thinking to myself, what will I say if they ask me about golf? I know nothing about golf! But, I did know law. I knew how to think like a business lawyer, and I wanted the LPGA to see that I could take everything I knew about that and basically apply it to the business of golf. I guess I was convincing enough. I started as senior counsel and now I’m general counsel.

Have you started playing golf since working there?

Conyers: I can say I’ve been on the golf course, and that I now know how to drive a golf cart, but I’m by no means a player. But I have tremendous respect for women in the sport.