Home Law School News From private practice to the Department of Justice, Drake Law alumnus’ experiences span the globe

From private practice to the Department of Justice, Drake Law alumnus’ experiences span the globe

Ryan Rohlfsen, LW'99

Ryan Rohlfsen, LW’99, graduated law school having accomplished a lot: member of Drake Law Review, a C. Edwin Moore winner, the Rodney L. Hudson Supreme Court Oral Argument top advocate, and high honors, including Order of the Coif and Order of the Barristers. It’s not surprising that his law school experience led to an outstanding career with top law firms and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

“Drake prepared me well for the practice of law,” Rohlfsen said. “The one-on-one mentorship, the small class sizes, the excellent professors, the collegial nature of the student body and local legal community, and the excellent moot court program, all helped me discover what I wanted to do as a lawyer.”

Professors like Jim Albert, David Walker, and Bob Rigg (among others) went “above and beyond,” (in his words) to make sure he was well-prepared and well-qualified before leaving Drake. As captain of the Moot Court team his third year, Ryan spent hours preparing arguments and delivering mock arguments in front of peers and coaches. Through the Legal Clinic, Ryan had real opportunities to represent clients, which gave him the chance to develop an understanding for the professional practice of law prior to graduation.

Ryan’s experience included oral arguments in front of the en banc Supreme Court of Iowa and the Iowa Court of Appeals, something that not every law student gets to experience. Ryan believes that learning by doing is an integral part of any legal career, and notes that Drake offers a plethora of such opportunities.

After spending his first year at what is now Polsinelli, P.C. in Kansas City, Ryan joined Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in the firm’s Chicago, and then later, European offices. At Skadden, Ryan worked as a litigation attorney advising clients on matters in numerous countries including criminal and civil government investigations, commercial and corporate litigation, cross-border civil disputes, securities fraud, and class actions.

From Skadden, Ryan moved into public service as a federal prosecutor for the DOJ. Serving as a Senior Trial Attorney for the DOJ’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section based in Washington, D.C. and then Chicago, he was part of a small group of federal prosecutors responsible for global enforcement of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). In that role, he successfully led numerous investigations into alleged criminal violations of the FCPA by major corporations and individuals involving conduct on six continents. Also while at the DOJ, he prosecuted matters involving investment fraud, domestic bribery, and other complex white-collar crimes. Ryan’s cases resulted in over $100 million in corporate fines and penalties, as well as the conviction of responsible corporate executives.

Ryan recently returned to private practice, joining Ropes & Gray LLP as a partner in its government enforcement practice based in Chicago.

“Ryan understands deeply the issues that matter most to the criminal and civil authorities in investigating cases and determining whether to bring criminal charges or civil enforcement actions,” said Asheesh Goel, co-chair of Ropes & Gray’s global anti-corruption and international risk practice, and the managing partner of Ropes & Gray’s Chicago office. “We are thrilled Ryan brings his depth of experience to our expanding government enforcement practice, which has counseled major international corporations through significant investigations and compliance matters.”

While Ryan plans on continuing to assist clients around the world, he credits growing up in the Midwest and attending Drake as helping ground him.

“Drake challenges its students in the classroom, empowers them to learn through real-world situations, and stresses the importance of being part of a broader community and helping others.”

In addition to his juris doctor, Rohlfsen earned his B.A. in psychology, political science, and history from Drake University, Phi Beta Kappa.

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