The ACC Top 10 30-Somethings awards recognize in-house counsel between the ages of 30 and 39 for their innovation, approach to challenges, well-rounded perspectives, contributions to the in-house community, and pro bono and volunteer work.
It starts with the heart for Cory Lamz. His personal mission to help those in need is the why behind just about everything he does, from implementing new technology in his role as GC at Buoy Health to volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
While studying law, Cory also earned a master’s in music industry leadership. But he discovered that his real passion was in the tech space and how it could be used to improve people’s lives.
A long-time volunteer, Cory wanted to do more public service after law school. He realized he could fill a void by working for companies that develop technology to help people efficiently and holistically.
“Bring the heart to the corporate practice — my hope is that I can help spread that message. There are many people I know that work in-house who get it,” Cory says.
At Buoy Health, he fulfills that goal through the company’s main product — a health symptom checker that also provides educational information about health conditions and can connect users to digital health services that may be relevant to them. “Our focus is helping our users access healthcare in an easier way, making it more affordable. We also help people better understand their own symptoms,” says Cory.
COVID-19 presented a tremendous challenge as well as an opportunity for Cory and his team to help. Buoy built a COVID symptom checker for the US states Massachusetts and Virginia. “A real highlight of my career so far was when our team mobilized to build the COVID symptom checker to have an immediate impact. I remember preparing for contract negotiations over Zoom at three in the morning on a Saturday. It was hard, but it was really rewarding knowing what we were doing was going to have an impact on people where they needed it most when they needed it most. And that’s a good summary of why I do what I do.”
Cory was also a part of Buoy’s COVID return-to-the-workplace product that incorporated the evolving US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and privacy law, among many other considerations He describes the work as “very rewarding” and “another example of having a direct impact on people’s lives and helping people return to work and see a wage again.”
Getting into the day-to-day, Cory has been lauded for developing an agile software development cycle for his legal department with a 24-hour response time and working in two-week “sprints,” achieving results that regularly earn five-star ratings from stakeholders.
“We were finding that an email wasn’t sufficient. As the legal team, we adopted communication styles to align with the platforms other internal teams use — similar to a tech department project management system using tickets,” he says, “Initially, I was resistant to it, but I was seeing the need internally to meet our stakeholders where they were as opposed to where we were.”
He also guides his team on presenting information in a visually-pleasing, easy-to-grasp, “interactive digital experience” instead of the legal world’s traditional style of documents that are pages of pure text and would “cause eyes to glaze over.”
If someone is not comfortable or skilled in the technology that produces the visuals, Cory encourages other means, such as using a real-life relatable example that helps explain what the audience needs to understand. “The technology should not get in the way of the goal. If you’re spending more time setting up the tech, or navigating the tech, than the work product, then you’re really letting the tail wag the dog.”
As Cory sees it, gleaning the ins and outs of business is essential for in-house counsel. “You have to deal with legal constraints and business strategy — it’s the marriage between the two that makes in-house lawyers especially powerful. You can out-source counsel, but what sets in-house counsel apart and makes them powerful is how well they know the business.”
A new project Cory championed at Buoy was forming a community council with a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) — including accessibility — lens. His goal: Make DEI more than shiny business jargon by creating a space where Buoy employees are empowered to take action and effect change.
He also is an active member of TechGC, the Boston Bar Association, and serves on the New York City Bar Association’s Sex and the Law Committee, most recently leading a project that advocates for New York state to provide internet access to homeless shelters because of its importance for at-risk populations, particularly domestic violence survivors and LGBTQ+ people especially youth. “I want to continue to use what I know to lift other people up. I strongly believe when one of us wins, we all win.”
Helping others “impacts one’s life unmeasurably,” says Cory. “It may not be evident immediately, but it can have a lifelong impact. When I was a volunteer Big Brother, as much as I mentored my little brother, he also mentored me.”
Being recognized as an ACC Top 10 30-Something is another opportunity for Cory to have an impact and matters because of the “implicit acknowledgement that others recognize my practice, and the way that I practice law resonates,” he says.
“It can sometimes, otherwise, be a very lonely place. “ACC gives me a platform to share my story and hopefully that will help others. I’m a gay male lawyer, and hopefully somebody who has not seen themselves represented in this capacity will be inspired to apply to a certain job — maybe a job like mine,” Cory says.
“It takes a village, but it also takes a thought. If this helps someone, including a Big Brother Big Sister, I’ll consider this award worth it a hundred-fold.”
Q&A with Cory Lamz
What have you learned from mentoring that is helping you with your career and/or life in general?
As I mentor others, I am reminded of the importance of finding, and maintaining, the humanity in lawyering. At the end of the day, practicing law is a privilege and a service. We're here to advocate for our clients. And as we do so, we all are better off when we show kindness, respect, and human decency to each other. Life is too short for anything less.
I also remember that one size does not fit all. My approach to lawyering may be different than someone else's, but both are equally valid so long as they appropriately and efficiently serve the client. In this way, it's important to bring your whole self to lawyering — everything that makes you unique is what can make you a strong lawyer. So don't forget that.
Who inspires you, and what is it they’ve said or done that influences you?
I'm inspired by my parents, whose work ethic is unmatched. Growing up, my mom reminded me to work hard and enjoy the process, and my dad told me often, "Whether you think you can or can't, you're right."
I'm also inspired by those who seek to leave the world a better place than they found it, including my parents, my partner, my team, and my friends. Figuring out what you're good at, and then applying that talent to help others is incredibly powerful.