Alabama State Bar
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Ryan K. Buchanan

US Attorney’s Office
1801 4th Avenue N.
Birmingham, AL 35203
(205)244-2155 / ryan.buchanan@usdoj.gov

Ryan is a 2005 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School and has a BS in Business Administration from Samford University. He is an assistant US Attorney for the US Attorney’s Office – Northern District of Alabama. Ryan is also admitted in the North Carolina Bar Association and The State Bar of Georgia.

While at Samford University, Ryan served as circle president for the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. chapter president, was a board member for the university’s Student Government Association, and was a four-year letter-winner for Varsity Football. At Vanderbilt, Ryan held the position of vice-president for the Vanderbilt Bar Association and was a member of the Vanderbilt National Moot Court. Upon graduation, he clerked for the Honorable Inge P. Johnson. Ryan worked at McGuireWoods, LLP as a litigation and labor & employment associate in North Carolina and Georgia before becoming an Assistant US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama where he is a criminal prosecutor. He has successfully prosecuted over fifty federal criminal cases, including jury trails, on felonies ranging from material support to terrorism, wire fraud, bank robbery, use of counterfeit currency and access devices to firearms and immigration-related offenses. Ryan attended training at the National Advocacy Center for international and domestic terrorism investigation and prosecution, immigration prosecution, white collar prosecution, trial advocacy, grand jury, discovery and federal criminal practice.

The attorney who recommended Ryan said, “In the Spring of 2003, I met Ryan at a reception hosted by my former law firm, Burr & Forman, LLP, at Vanderbilt University Law School. Ryan decided to spend two summers interning at the firm and I served as his mentor. Over the course of those two summers, Ryan and I became friends and have continued to stay in touch over the last ten years. On a few occasions, I had the opportunity to work on cases with Ryan while he was with McGuireWoods. While working with Ryan on these cases, I became aware of the solid relationships Ryan had forged with his superiors at that firm. One of the things that became obvious quickly was the value they placed on Ryan’s judgment and legal skills. Ryan recently chose to leave a lucrative private sector job to return to Birmingham to work on national security cases at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. It is clear that our U.S. Attorney, Joyce Vance, places a high value on Ryan’s judgment and legal skills as well, since she has entrusted his to work on matters of high importance. As a graduate of the Leadership Forum, I am certain that Ryan, in turn, will benefit from meeting and spending time with other talented young lawyers from across the state. Over the years, I have spent time with Ryan talking through the issues of the law practice and the issues facing our community, both in Birmingham and Alabama. In our talks, I have found Ryan to possess and respectfully share a perspective that was developed in Tuscumbia, but molded in other cities in which he has lived – Nashville, Charlotte and Atlanta. Ryan has exhibited a strong commitment to the greater good wherever he has been, and I am grateful he has returned to Alabama to make a contribution to our community. This is most recently evidenced by the fact that he and his wife both left large national firms to return to Birmingham so that he could work in the public service. The diversity of his practice will be a benefit to Class 9. Likewise, Ryan is an African-American who grew up in Tuscumbia, Alabama and who has spent time living outside Alabama before choosing to come back to Birmingham. As such, his background would provide a unique perspective for the Class.”

In his own words, Ryan says, “In the summer of 2010, as I helped to box up my family’s belongings for our move from Atlanta to Birmingham, I came across a copy of the personal statement I submitted with my law school applications over ten years ago. The nostalgia was instant, and as I reflected on the piece – written shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks – I remembered the fervor and certainty with which I wrote, expressing my intent to embark on a meaningful career in the legal profession. I smiled at the timing of finding it – just as I was leaving large firm, private practice to become an Assistant U.S. Attorney. I sat excited for the upcoming opportunity to contribute to both the legal profession and to the community by going into public service, and was confident that I was fulfilling my original intent to have a meaningful legal career. It was during my junior year of college that I knew I wanted to find a career that I could be passionate about while also positively impacting the community to which I belonged. In the end, it was the law and its ability to affect every individual in any community that was most compelling. As I wrote my personal statement, I remember ambitiously focusing on the following quote from Dr. Samuel D. Proctor, an early and influential member of my college fraternity: ‘…and they live well who live for something that will outlast themselves.’ It is with this belief in mind that I started my journey as a leader in the law and a belief that I still hold close as I continue my legal career. Immediately after law school, I had the great opportunity to clerk for Judge Inge Johnson in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. When Judge Johnson swore me in to the Northern District, she encouraged me to be what she affectionately calls an “Atticus Finch” lawyer. She explained that she believes the legal profession needs more lawyers who lead by example and respect the law despite the unpopularity of the required stance to ensure fairness to all individuals and to provide legitimacy to the legal process. I heeded her advice, acknowledging that an ‘Atticus Finch’ lawyer is the servant-leader who lives for something that will outlast himself. I went on to work for the Charlotte and Atlanta offices of McGuireWoods, LLP, and was fortunate enough to try cases as a young associate. I quickly recognized that advocating on behalf of clients before judges was one of my favorite parts of this profession, and one that came relatively naturally. Perhaps it reminded me of my years playing football – with its referees, opponents, fans and endzones – the pressure, teamwork and goal-oriented process of trying a case in a courtroom – with a judge, opposing counsel, jury and verdicts – was appropriately familiar. But even more, I was cognizant of the effect the trials had on the immediate community involved, from the individual clients and jury members, to even the possible change in law or precedent by a judicial decision. I knew the courtroom was where I could have the most influential and outlasting impact on the legal profession and my community, and I knew I wanted more opportunities to do so. I thus began contemplating a move to public service. Although private practice was professionally fulfilling and challenging, I felt that my continued quest to ‘live well’ as suggested by Dr. Proctor required a personal change in my career. Coincidently, while representing a client with a case filed in the Northern District of Alabama, I was able to stop by Judge Johnson’s chambers to talk with her about my thoughts on potentially moving to the public sector and what options were available to me. Naturally, we revisited Atticus Finch ideals once again. This time, however, she also reflected on her observance of those ideals by the lawyers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office who practice before her. I left her chambers that day wanting to become an Assistant U.S. Attorney. I now not only lead, represent and advocate the interests of clients, but also the interests of the people of the Northern District of Alabama, which includes my childhood friends and even my parents. Away from court, my responsibilities include participation in Department of Justice initiatives designed to heighten cultural and religious awareness and sensitivity locally. Given that my legal studies started shortly after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I am honored to participate in such programs that are integral to the healing needed after 9/11 and required for the continued vigilance to prevent another such tragedy. Therefore, I take my responsibilities as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with humility, sincerity, and compassion. I believe my commitment to these responsibilities as an ‘Atticus Finch’ lawyer is my greatest contribution to both the legal profession and my community to date, and I intend to strive to make my entire career a continuing contribution to the community and the legal profession. I believe the leadership qualities that I have developed over time along with my federal clerkship and private and public practice provide a unique and diverse perspective from which I can beneficially contribute to Class 9 of the Leadership Forum. I am certain that, in return, I will gain great relationships, new perspectives and new opportunities to further advance the ideals of Atticus Finch in working for something that will outlast us all.”