Ryan, who joined RPLG as an Associate in 2018 and was promoted to Senior Associate in 2019, advises on and litigates constitutional and statutory issues involving education and employment law, public pensions and vested rights, voter initiatives, land use, public records, class actions, free speech, preemption, professional responsibility, and religious discrimination. As part of RPLG’s Government and Litigation Practice Groups, he has defended and brought suits on behalf of public agencies in actions before state and federal courts and administrative agencies, including the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the California Supreme Court, the California Court of Appeal, CalPERS, and the Public Employment Relations Board.
“We are proud to congratulate Ryan on his well-deserved promotion to Partner,” said Founding Partner Jon Holtzman. “Being passionate about the work is crucial to succeeding in a place like RPLG. Ryan’s passion for public service and enthusiasm for the intellectual challenges unique to public interest law have allowed him to make immense contributions to our firm.”
Ryan also holds a strong reputation among RPLG’s clients.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Ryan for the past five years and have always been impressed with his ability to problem solve multiple issues and find solutions to very complex legal situations,” said Todd Cusimano, Town Manager of Corte Madera. “Ryan is experienced, thoughtful and responsive. Whether it be constitutional law, public pensions or employment practices, Ryan shines above all others.”
Sherri Kaiser, Chief Deputy County Counsel for Napa County, commented: “I have worked with Ryan on several important matters for Napa County, including a challenge to a voter measure and a long-running commercial dispute that culminated with a two-week bench trial. Ryan was key to bringing those matters to a successful conclusion. On a more personal level, I also very much enjoy working with him. He is smart, dedicated, collaborative, and kind.”
An alumnus of Stanford Law School, Ryan worked in the private sector and held clerkships with the California Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas prior to joining RPLG.
“Representing public agencies across the state provides opportunities to engage with fascinating questions of state and federal statutory and constitutional law,” said Ryan. “Practicing at RPLG has allowed me to reengage with the reason why I went to law school in the first place: to serve the public.”
Ryan had the opportunity to return to federal court as lead on a ballot measure defense for the County of Napa, responding to a citizen’s initiative restricting helicopter takeoff and landings on private property.
“Winemakers filed separate actions in state and federal court to invalidate the measure,” he said. “We moved the state court action to federal court, consolidated the actions and defeated many of their claims in motion practice, then successfully resolved the matter. It was fun to be back in federal court where I spent a lot of time as a clerk.”
Ryan said that he is particularly proud of his work defending voter initiatives and ballot measures, thereby helping to uphold the democratic process.
One standout case, a ballot measure (Prop G) passed by San Francisco voters in an effort to improve MUNI service, presented a close-to-home challenge for Ryan. The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) had voided the amendment based on alleged failures to comply with obligations under a state collective bargaining statute.
“After Prop G was gutted by PERB,” said Ryan, “we persuaded the court of appeal to overturn much of PERB’s decision and reinstate crucial portions of the charter amendment that the voters had approved at the ballot box despite the substantial deference that’s paid to the administrative agency in those types of cases. That was a really gratifying victory, because I live in San Francisco and I take MUNI to work.”
He is quick to credit others with supporting his success: “We have incredible colleagues, staff, and administrative support at RPLG. Without that, you can’t really succeed.”