'Growing up, people often said I was good at arguing, and that I should be a lawyer. '
C. Ryan Maloney is a board-certified construction lawyer and chair of the Jacksonville Bar Association Construction Law Committee.
Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer? Growing up, people often said I was good at arguing, and that I should be a lawyer. Whether those were really compliments or not, being a lawyer was always in the back of my mind. I also have two uncles who are successful lawyers and good role models. After I graduated from Florida State University, and after working for a year or so in college admissions at FSU, I decided to take the plunge and go to law school at the University of Florida. It has worked out very well, and I really couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
One person (other than my spouse or partner) who inspires me: My children inspire me to continue to work as hard as I can to try to provide for them and ensure they have every opportunity to grow up happy and successful.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice of law? My undergraduate degree was in English literature, which required lots of reading and then analyzing and synthesizing meanings and themes from the text. That’s exactly what I do as a litigator, analyzing and synthesizing arguments from case law and statutes in order to make arguments for my clients, so my degree has served me well.
How did you decide your practice area? And why have you chosen that? When I graduated from law school, I thought I wanted to be an employment lawyer. Luckily for me, when I started at Foley & Lardner, the commercial litigation group was very busy so I was drafted into that practice. I was fortunate enough to work with outstanding lawyers like Allan Clark, John Tucker and John Caven, who all had very strong construction practices. Over time, working on construction matters, I learned that I enjoyed the area of law, as well as the idea of working on matters involving tangible buildings and structures and working with the people in the industry that build them.
What do you think will be the next big change in your area of law? As technology becomes a bigger aspect of the construction industry, with things such as building information modeling, laser scanning, drones and 3D printers becoming more prevalent, construction lawyers will have to stay abreast of these emerging technologies and the related legal issues to effectively represent their clients.
If I could change anything in the legal system, I would: Abolish per curiam affirmed opinions in the Florida District Courts of Appeal. While I recognize the appellate courts are busy, parties who spend the time, effort and money to appeal a decision should be entitled to receive an explanation of the basis for the decision to deny their appeal. Even if the explanation is brief, and perhaps made unpublished or otherwise non-precedential, they should receive an explanation.
What community service have you pursued and why that? I was a mentor to a student through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida. I met with my mentee on a weekly basis starting when he was in sixth grade, and was very proud of the young man he had become when I watched him graduate in May from William M. Raines High School. I am a member of the Rotary Club of South Jacksonville. I was previously on the board of the Winston Family YMCA, including board chair in 2015, and I was the pro bono general counsel for the Clay County Chamber of Commerce from 2013 to 2018.
What’s your advice for new lawyers? Try to find an experienced lawyer who can be a mentor, whether it’s in your firm or workplace, in your network or in a Bar association. There is a lot they don’t teach you in law school about the practice of law, and you’re going to need someone with experience that can be a sounding board, provide insight and hopefully act as a champion for you if you’re lucky.