About Judge Ryan
Judge Mike Ryan was appointed by Governor Inslee to a seat on the King County Superior Court in January 2019. He will stand for election to retain his seat in November.
Judge Ryan has working class roots. His father was a union electrician (IBEW Local 167), and his mother an assistant in a small accounting office. Mike and his older brother were the first in the family to attend college. He graduated from Rutgers College where he was the Captain of the Cross-County and Track and Field teams. Still, he managed to graduate with high honors and was admitted to Georgetown University Law School. The cost of such a school would have been prohibitive for his family, so for the first year, Mike attended classes at night and worked full-time during the day to pay for it. He graduated magna cum laude, was awarded the Order of the Coif (top 10% of his class), and was an executive editor of the Georgetown Law Review.
After law school, Mike was selected as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Frank J. Magill of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
A post-college summer trip to the Olympic Peninsula convinced him that the Pacific Northwest was breathtakingly beautiful and that’s where he wanted to settle. So he began his legal career in Seattle at Preston Gates & Ellis and ultimately became a partner at what is now known as K&L Gates. While he had a diverse civil litigation practice, Judge Ryan focused on constitutional and municipal litigation but dedicated a significant amount of his time to pro bono matters involving free speech and prisoner’s rights.
Feeling the call to public service, Judge Ryan left K&L Gates in September 2015 to work for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, where he defended important citizen initiatives such as the City’s innovative Democracy Voucher Program and the hotel workers’ rights initiative. He also was one of the lead attorneys in the City’s successful defense of its so-called “sanctuary city” status. During his legal career, Judge Ryan briefed or argued cases at every level of both state and federal courts.
Judge Ryan understands that the law does not serve everyone equally. The values he learned from his parents—hard work and fairness—are the same values he brings to the bench every day. He fully understands that every case that comes to his court is the most important case for the parties appearing before him.
Judge Ryan lives in South Seattle with his wife, two young daughters, and his faithful rescue dog. He has served as Chair of Washington Audubon and as member of the Board of ACLU of Washington.