Meet Alumni Board President Ryan Dietrich ’04

Ryan Dietrich ’04 likes to sink his teeth into complex legal issues, so it is no wonder he finds his job as an assistant attorney general in the state of Maryland’s civil litigation division especially fulfilling.

“We get to engage with cutting-edge intellectual questions, dealing with constitutional and civil rights issues,” says Dietrich, including in that category the cases his division has handled during the pandemic in which entities sued to reopen or ease restrictions put in place by the governor’s executive orders. “These are difficult questions that must be decided, and they affect all the people in Maryland.”

Born and raised in Maryland, Dietrich does not come from a family of lawyers. He didn’t even know any attorneys growing up. But he discovered a gift for debate and may have been the only kid in his elementary school class glued to TV’s “The People’s Court,” fascinated by the process of resolving problems through arbitration.

Set on a career in the law, Dietrich attended the University of Maryland, College Park, and majored in psychology—a solid background for someone interested in being persuasive for a living. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 2000, he was determined to stay in Maryland to live and work and characterizes attending Maryland Carey Law as “a slam dunk choice.”

During law school, Dietrich was grateful for the mentorship he received from upper-level peers he had known since his days at College Park. Those friends showed him the ropes, explaining everything from journals to clerkships, and remain valued connections today.

Addressing this year’s incoming class during the law school’s virtual orientation program, he encouraged 1Ls to immediately start developing their network among peers as he did, and among faculty and alumni.

“Law school and the legal world can be daunting, so don’t go it alone, let others help you,” Dietrich advised. “Learn from alumni like me who are dying to give back and to give advice to those who will be the next generation of lawyers.”

Dietrich also fondly recalls participating in law school activities including Maryland Law Review and Moot Court Board, both of which provided experience that readied him for the appellate work to come.

“Moot court definitely prepared me for the real world,” says Dietrich, remembering the “hot” moot court benches in which judges put him on the spot with intricate questions. “In real life,” he adds, “judges are usually more reserved and generally have a reason for asking a question other than just to test your knowledge.”

Dietrich graduated Order of the Coif in 2004, and immediately began using the research and writing skills he developed in law school in a one-year clerkship under now retired Judge Glenn T. Harrell ’70 of the Maryland Court of Appeals. A short stint in private practice followed before Dietrich found his home in the Office of the Attorney General of Maryland. First, he worked in the criminal appeals division, where he authored over 400 appellate briefs. In 2018, he switched to the civil litigation division.

Throughout his career, Dietrich has given back to his alma mater. He serves as a coach for the same moot court team on which he cut his legal teeth and taught legal writing to first-year students for 10 years as an adjunct professor. Dietrich is also a longtime member of the Maryland Carey Law Alumni Board, serving this year as the board’s president.

Busy as the assistant attorney general’s life is, juggling family life with a preschooler and a new baby, and working from home because of the pandemic, he remains dedicated to involvement with Maryland Carey Law.

“I had such a great experience in law school,” says Dietrich. “I think it’s important to give back to those who are coming behind you.”

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