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Rising To The Challenge

Beneath Ruth Ryan-Cruz’s Friendly Disposition Lies a Fierce Representative

“I have been fortunate to have amazing mentors, leaders and relationships throughout my life. Learning from a diverse group of professionals has allowed me to absorb valuable techniques allowing me to provide fierce advocacy,” says Ruth Ryan-Cruz, associate with Kehr Law Firm. For Ryan-Cruz, whose clients run the spectrum of individuals to families and entrepreneurs to small to medium sized companies; the foundation for her fierce advocacy can be traced to her natural born problem solving skills, her focus on relationship building, her real world experience as a business owner and her love of the law.

Problem Solving Skills & Business Savvy
“Ever since I was a kid I remember being the one student in class who kids turned to for bringing resolution to disputes and general issues. In the fourth grade I resolved playground disputes-settling who played with the limited number of dodge ball courts and who took turns with the tether ball court so that all kids could enjoy their recess. I can’t remember any teacher or student assigning me the role. More than anything I wanted to reach compromises to end the nonsensical arguments and to have more time to play,” Ryan-Cruz recalls, with a laugh.
By high-school, Ryan-Cruz was using her problem-solving skills to provide solutions for more than just her peers. “During high school, I became a self-taught web developer during the time when Windows ’95 was the new operating system, AOL was the prime internet service provider and web development required a lot of HTML coding,” she says. Admitting to countless sleepless nights, Ryan-Cruz says “I turned web development into my first small business. I developed sites for local business owners such as insurance agents, hair salons, meat markets, etc. I learned to work with business owners and learned about their concerns, their budgets, their priorities, their roles in the community and their legal affairs. More than anything I learned the important skill of being a counselor and advising people based on what’s important to them as business owners.”
Ryan-Cruz’s experience as a business owner, and in working with fellow business owners, led her to pursue a degree in Business Administration with an Emphasis in High Technology Management. That was until she took a Business Law class “for fun,” she recalls. That course would change her career dreams completely. “I became so fascinated with this course that I steered my career in a new direction. It was a life-changing course,” she adds.

Love of the Law
However, Ryan-Cruz wanted to be sure that working with a law firm would suit her. After all, she’d run her own business, had become a young manager of an amusement park which required her to work with executive-level management both domestically and internationally, and she’d worked in the commercial lines department of an insurance company. So to be sure she was on the right track, “I went and confirmed that practicing law was an environment fit for me by working as a legal assistant and law clerk in Orange County and San Diego County,” she says. “The more involved I became with client files, the more I became eager to learn about the law. I couldn’t wait to go to law school and become an advocate for people and businesses in need of legal representation against injustices or serious difficulties. I had seen many injustices among business owners at a local level, and couldn’t wait to assist them or others in similar positions,” she adds.
That experience sealed the deal for Ryan-Cruz. Within a few years, she had turned her law school internship into an associate role, and was offered a position at Kehr Law firm after graduating from California Western School of Law. “I credit Dan Kehr for shaping me as the successful attorney I am evolving into. He took me under his wing and provided me with plenty of lessons, tips, advice and general mentoring in the practice of law,” she says. Moreover, she says, “senior attorneys within the firm have been great at sharing their experiences and knowledge.”

Focus on Family & Relationships
Similarly, Ryan-Cruz received a great deal of support from her family. “I have been fortunate enough to receive help every step of the way and I want to pay that forward,” she says. In addition to the mentorship she has received at her firm, Ryan-Cruz says “I am motivated when I think of my family. My family has overcome adversity after adversity and they inspire me. They have motivated me every step of the way in my journey to where I am today.” She is also quick to point out that out that her husband Matthew Ryan “is a great career coach who has been at my side counseling me along since my college days,” she says. “We take what I call ‘power walks’ where we go on long walks to motivate each other to excel in careers,” she adds.
Ryan-Cruz works hard at building similar relationships with her clients. “I follow the golden rule we all learn in elementary school; treat others the way you want to be treated. In following this rule, I perform my work with a great amount of responsibility, dependability and honesty. It is exactly how I would expect my attorney to practice law and as such, I keep these important traits in mind as I work and strategize,” Ryan-Cruz says.

To that end, “I do not take shortcuts to reach positive resolutions. I want to tackle my clients’ legal matters, but the key to doing that is building relationships. Relationships with my clients and in the community is what drives my practice. I take the role of ‘legal counselor’ very seriously. Knowing even a little bit about the client as an individual, I am better prepared to handle the legal task at hand and offer personalized solutions. These solutions should fit the client’s needs and goals that much better,” she explains.
Planning for a Positive Future “The opportunities are limitless, and as an associate in a growing firm, I am excited for the next five years,” says Ryan- Cruz. “Every case usually has a new fact, a new twist or a new factor requiring research, which is another opportunity to grow professionally. Our firm is staffed with a set of young, yet experienced attorneys who are very open to forward thinking legal strategies. We share the same mission in our legal practice, which is to deliver sound, efficient, cost-effective and powerful representation with every matter, whether large or small for the benefit of the client,” Ryan-Cruz says.
In addition to her practice in business and corporate law, intellectual property, estate planning and real estate, Ryan-Cruz is “looking forward to the process of developing some of the firm’s growing practices including its Outside General Counsel Program which represents existing and growing local companies with an array of business, employment and related matters,” she explains.

Although Ryan-Cruz may be the proverbial “new-kid-on the-block” in terms of years of practicing law, her experience in business and her ability to build relationships makes her wise beyond her practice years. “As a former business owner, I now apply my experiences towards working with local entrepreneurs and companies as their business attorney,” she says. Likewise, Ryan-Cruz is more than savvy when it comes to networking and building relationships. “I talk to everyone I come across because I never know when it can turn into a client
or a wonderful resource. I also share my knowledge through publications both local and nationally, both offline and online.
It’s great to be able to tell a client or resource to check out an article I’ve written,” she adds. It’s clear that for Ruth Ryan-Cruz, the future is frankly brimming over with opportunity, and she couldn’t be more excited about her career. “Every single case that comes across my desk adds to my personal knowledge bank and allows me to be a better attorney than before.”

Ruth Ryan-Cruz
Kehr Law, APC
550 West C Street, Suite 1150
San Diego, CA 92101

Karen Gorden

Karen Gorden is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal.

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About the Author: Karen Gorden is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal.

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