By Bob Andelman

Corporate Meetings & Incentives Magazine

January 2009

It would be hard to find anyone who’s traveled the career path of TYRA W. HILLIARD, Esq., CMP. Having moved from meeting planner to CVB staffer to hotel catering pro to lawyer to educator, Hilliard has a rare perspective on the industry. Now, she’s combining her skills as a consultant and teacher in George Washington University‘s Department of Tourism & Hospitality Management while maintaining a Washington, D.C., law practice that represents associations, nonprofits, and independent meeting and event professionals.

Corporate Meetings & Incentives: How many legal issues come up in the world of meetings and events?

Hilliard: More than you would think. In fact, it was my experience as a meeting and conference planner and hotel catering manager that eventually drove me to law school. I realized that one of the biggest issues for meetings was contracts and liability. That was even before attrition and cancellation clauses were common and before we had so many monetary damages just for performance issues. There were a couple of attorneys specializing in the meetings industry back then, but not too many. I decided that was a niche that would be good for me, and, best case scenario, I would be able to help planners with the kinds of legal issues that I wished I had known more about when I was a planner.

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