Featured Member: Ryan C. Conklin
Employer: Wright & Moore Law Co., LPA
Education and Work Experience:
The Ohio State University, Bachelors of Science in Agriculture in 2010
University of Florida, Masters of Science in Agricultural Education in 2012
The Michigan State University College of Law, Juris Doctor in 2015
Wright & Moore Law Co., LPA offered me a position after my internship in the summer of 2014 and it has been my sole job to date.
How did you get interested/involved in agriculture law?
My interest in agriculture law stems from my upbringing on a dairy farm and working with my dad on the legal snags our farm encountered. My interest also comes from working closely with two of my mentors who are also AALA members and former Board members, Professor Peggy Kirk Hall at Ohio State and Professor Michael Olexa at the University of Florida. Both of them had a tremendous impact on my pre-law school development and on my entry into the field of agriculture law.
What is your current role and what type of work are you doing for agriculture?
I am currently the junior attorney in our office of three attorneys, all of whom practice agriculture law. Wright & Moore covers all corners of Ohio, with farm clients in many of the 88 counties. I devote most of my time to the estate, business, and succession planning part of our practice. This constitutes the primary area of practice for our firm as we assist farm families with generational transfers of their operations. When I am not working in this area, I enjoy helping the growing number of agritourism operators in Ohio and helping farmers with their challenges related to employment law and land use law.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities you see in your job and the ag law profession?
As the attorney representing the “younger” generation in our office, I have devoted special attention to helping young, new, and beginning farmers get off the ground. With all of the challenges that come with entering the farming profession, I want to make sure these clients have an attorney who can provide affordable and practical legal solutions.
Also, the steady retirement of rural practitioners and the lack of attorneys to fill the voids in these geographic areas are especially concerning to me. Access to legal services in rural communities, much like access to health care in the same communities, could be an issue that the legal profession and rural-centric states are forced to address in the near future. Of course this also presents a tremendous opportunity for AALA to take the lead on solution development.
When did you join, why did you join the AALA and what keeps you active in the organization?
I joined AALA in the summer of 2013 after learning of the organization from one of my bosses at Farm Credit Mid-America. To me, joining AALA was a no brainer. Finally I had found a group where other people wanted to talk about Farm Bill reform, food safety, land use law, and other agriculture law topics as much as I did! These discussions, the ability to learn from the attorneys who are on the front lines of major ag policy disputes , and the ability to converse with practitioners who face the same challenges we see at Wright & Moore, are the things that ensure my membership in AALA will be renewed for years to come.
I have previously served as a student member of the annual conference planning committee and currently co-chair the Distance Education Committee for the AALA.