We were fortunate to meet Ryan at the beginning of his first semester in the Master of Science Cybersecurity Engineering program at Drexel University. His enthusiasm, energy and entrepreneurial spirit have been evident in his actions throughout his academic career. During Ryan’s intense final semester of law school, he established the Cyber Security Law Society of Philadelphia (at Drexel Law) which, within its first few months, presented a conference in Washington, D.C., that featured IT professionals from around the world.
And did we mention that Ryan already has two undergraduate degrees in addition to his law degree? So naturally, we wanted to chat with him about his ambitious path, unique career goals, and the impetuous behind creating the CSLSP at Drexel Law.
You just completed your Juris Doctorate, so why now add a Masters in Cybersecurity to your C.V.?
I want to remedy the disconnect between a company’s business, IT and law departments. Communication and collaboration between these three areas of a company are essential to the integrity and efficacy of its cybersecurity.
With my business background, I recognized this disconnect and the subsequent niche-need emerging in cyber, so I wanted ‘in’ as early as possible. Adding a Master of Science in Cybersecurity Engineering will give me flexibility to move throughout the industry to serve as a strategic partner and liaison between business, information technology and legal departments.
Did you know this was going to be your path from the start?
I wish I could say that I had the foresight and plotted this path from the-get-go, but it wasn’t until my second internship at the District Attorney’s office, that I began to realize that litigation wasn’t my passion.
Around the same time, I was taking a cybercrime course in law school and it clicked that cybersecurity and the crime that follows is the future, so I was going to figure-out how to get involved. Blazing an uncharted career path like this excited the entrepreneur in me, and with my law degree and future MS degree, it was really a no-brainer.
Why did you start the Cyber Security Law Society?
Being able to break down the barriers between the business, IT and legal departments is a valuable expertise. The ability to ‘speak the language’ of each camp and facilitate communication between them is unique— even though it’s critical to a company’s cybersecurity plan.
I wanted to introduce and foster this skill in others, and law students need to know there are opportunities other than being a traditional lawyer. Initially, it was just me and my Drexel faculty moderator Paul Flanagan, but within the first eight months the society grew to 20 members.
Also, professional groups bring legitimacy to interests. And being that this role is essentially a ‘unicorn’— nonexistent in the world of cyber— credibility is essential. That said, the CSLS is designed to start the conversation about this niche liaison need in cybersecurity, why it’s important, and how to fill it.
What’s the purpose of the CSLS and what does it offer participants?
The Cyber Security Law Society tracks industry trends and issues with the help of Drexel University’s Dean of the Thomas R. Kline School of Law, Daniel Filler. Currently comprised of mainly law students, the CSLS provides industry opportunities, as well as resources and educational opportunities, including internships, writing samples and mentors.
Shortly after I founded the society, we presented our first one-day conference, ‘The Universe in an Ever-Evolving Digital Ecosystem,’ which was held in Washington, D.C. This inaugural event featured presentations by seasoned IT professionals and educators from the Drexel School of Law, XPAN Law Group, LLC, Kaiser Permanente, and KLDiscovery.
Ryan's tenacity, capabilities, education and community efforts have helped him quickly find his niche in the cybersecurity industy. He's now a Data Privacy and Cyber Strategy Consultant at Layer 8 Security, LLC.