Passion. It’s not something that can be taught. It is something that is inherent, yet ineffable. And when one learns what exactly it is that they are passionate about, the world changes.
Ryan Ford, an attorney for Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville discovered what he was passionate about after getting his MBA from the University of Wyoming, in 2007.
“I was probably lost and wayward after undergrad and getting my MBA,” Ford said with a sardonic grin. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with those two degrees, and everybody that I was working for at the time was an attorney. They weren’t practicing at that time, but I really respected the way that they thought about problems.”
Those for whom Ryan worked left an indelible impression on him. So much so, that he opted to apply for law school. Given his previous educational accomplishments, he seemed like a shoe-in. But that’s now how this story goes.
“I actually applied for law school and I got put on the waitlist three separate times,” he stated. “After the third time, I finally decided that was enough. I moved to Denver to work with a private equity firm down there. I had been working with them for four or five months, and during the very last week of August, I got a phone call that said ‘Do you want to go to law school? If so, you have to be in Laramie by Thursday morning.’ They called me on a Tuesday.”
Many people would hang up the phone and mouth a variety of silent expletives. That’s not what Ford did.
“I told my bosses that I quit, and I moved back to Laramie,” he said.
It was a huge gamble. To quit a lucrative job with literally no notice simply to go back to school was a big risk. It required belief in himself, determination and, most importantly, passion. Ford had all three of those things, and the gamble paid off.
He graduated in 2010 with his Juris Doctorate. And after a brief, six-month period in Cheyenne, Ford entered the doors of Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville and never looked back.
“I had a friend who started here as an intern, and then an associate, six months after we graduated and passed the bar,” Ford stated. “He called me and said they were looking for another associate, so I swung in and met everybody on a weekend, and that’s the end of the story.”
Luckily, that’s not the case. In fact, that was just the beginning of Ford’s story with WPDN. And he chose to stay with WPDN, for almost 11 years now, because of the example the firm’s partners had laid for the rest of the attorneys.
“It was the demeanor of the partners that really grabbed my attention at first,” Ford stated. “I was very impressed with their knowledge of law, the experience in the room, and the understanding of balancing life. I could tell that everybody in the room was very serious about their jobs, but they were also very grounded.”
Work/life balance is an important aspect of WPDN. They work hard for their clients every day, but they never lose sight of the fact that they have their own lives, and their own families.
Ford certainly does.
“I moved up here when I was single and now I’ve got a wife and two little girls,” he said. “Right now, my biggest goal is to make sure that my little girls have a good childhood. We moved my parents out to Casper too. We liked Casper so much that we got them up here. I get to enjoy being a husband, dad and keep working with really good clients.”
Ford works with a variety of clients in a number of different industries, focusing mostly on real property law.
“A lot of my work centers around representing corporations, businesses, and real estate of all types, whether that’s buying or selling, titles or dealing with tax appeals,” Ford said. “I also do a lot of landlord/tenant work.”
Ford said that the reason he is so passionate about real estate law is because he appreciates the history behind it.
“I’ve always been fascinated with real property law,” he stated. “I grew up on a ranch, north of Cheyenne and just being able to go back through the records and see the history of the property, how it changed hands, why it changed hands, the fights, the conflicts, the success stories – all of it has been amazing. I just think there’s a lot of really neat history in real property.”
In addition to the work itself, the biggest thing Ford is passionate about is helping his clients. That is his true passion; helping people solve problems and leaving them better off than how he found them.
“I’m especially proud of the work that we just got done on tax appeals,” he gushed. “We had a lot of clients and all of them were scared about their tax assessments. But, for several of them, we were able to yield really good success working with the county to figure out solutions to these issues. We were able to save our clients a lot of money and we possibly even saved their property.”
And that’s where the passion comes from. That’s why Ford wanted to become an attorney in the first place. It’s why he applied to law school and was put on the waitlist three separate times. It’s why he dropped his entire life just for the opportunity to go to law school. Ryan Ford, like the rest of the attorneys at Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville like to help people. It’s as simple, yet profound, as that. And that is why WPDN is one of the premiere law firms in not just Wyoming, but the entire region.
“The knowledge of law here is unsurpassed,” Ford said. “None of our attorneys take advantage of situations. Dick Day, one of our founding partners, always said that ‘Clients are people, and it’s important that we treat them like people.’ I think that is something that has really been instilled in us. You don’t take advantage of a situation, and at the end of the day, you’re still neighbors with these people and it’s important to treat them like neighbors.”
That is what every attorney at WPDN does, and that’s where their passion comes from. Every day, the men and women at WPDN have the power, and honor, to change the lives of their clients. And it is not something they take lightly.
“There’s a thousand little victories every day,” Ford stated. “Somebody calls on the phone or drops into the office with a problem. You can look at that problem and, as long as you’re comfortable telling it to them, you can say ‘This seems daunting, but it’s not that big of a deal. We can take care of this and fix this.’ And watching their demeanor change from the first time they walk into the office, worried and afraid, to seeing them leave the office smiling and comforted – that’s what I love.”
But, truth be told, he loves it all. He loves the thrill of victory and the lessons learned in defeat. He loves the people with whom he works and the clients for whom he works. He loves helping people. That is Ryan Ford’s true passion. And when he got the call to drop everything he was doing to move to Laramie and go to law school, it was his passion that reassured him everything would be okay. So he took a chance on himself. And that’s something more people should do, according to Ford.
“Don’t be afraid to constantly ask questions,” he stated. “In work, in life, in anything. It’s amazing how many people come into my office and say ‘I didn’t want to do this, I didn’t want to do it.’ But the only way you can find any kind of resolution or get something that you’re seeking or looking for, is if you ask.”
That’s exactly what Ryan Ford did and the rest, as they say, is history.