Essential Thinking with Ryan Last

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Essential Thinking is a series that captures the thoughts, routines and attire of unique New Yorkers.


Essential Thinking | Ryan Last | Attorney | TriBeCa

Please write a short bio about yourself?

I work as a corporate & securities attorney - focusing on providing strategic advice to financial institutions. I also recently co-founded a real estate services firm that focuses on commercial & residential sales/leasing. 

When I’m not working I enjoy playing golf, reading biographies, seeing movies, and trying new restaurants.

I enjoy traveling in the US, and abroad. To me the joy of traveling isn’t one thing, but many things. It can be sitting on a beach reading a book, but also visiting historical landmarks across the world. One of my favorite things is to try and escape the New York winter with quick trips to Miami on weekends whenever possible.

Describe your idea of a successful morning.

During the week I wake up around 6 AM, and start my morning either at the gym, or catching up on the morning news with the paper or a news show. For breakfast I’ll usually have egg whites or oatmeal before heading out for the day. I can’t help but answer some work emails too. On the weekends, I wake up a little bit later, usually by 9AM, and try to get to the gym or a Rumble or Barry’s Bootcamp class. Post-workout I have some egg whites to hold me over until I meet friends or family for brunch.

As an attorney in New York, are there certain standards or pressures as they relate to what you wear on a day to day basis?

Every law firm has their own dress-code. There is even a difference in dress-code between transactional or litigation. I’ve been fortunate enough to work at law firms where business casual (suit without a tie) has been the preferred dress code.  If I had to meet with clients I was required to wear a suit and tie. There are pressures to wear very traditional conservative suits with neutral colors, especially when working at either a large or more conservative law firm.

Why do you think there is such a formal nature in your industry, and do you think it will ever change? 

While it has become very common for companies to institute the casual workplace attire, the legal field still has yet to embrace this movement. The legal practice is an old and historic profession. The casual workplace attire could never work in a law firm setting, especially for attorneys who must make courtroom appearances and attend client meetings. The way a young associate at a law firm dresses can impact their future within the firm, and image when meeting with both partners and clients. I don’t think the formal business attire at a law firm will ever change when making court appearances or when meeting with clients. However, I do believe as the older generation of lawyers retires, and younger lawyers take over, a more business casual attire will become increasingly common.  

What is one thing that most people don't understand about your industry? 

Most people don’t realize that judges delegate the task of drafting written opinions (decisions of the court) to their law clerks, who are usually recent law-school graduates and with none to very little legal professional experience. While the clerks write the decisions, the judges are responsible for the final decisions. Over the past 50 years, a large increase in how the decisions of judges have led to significant policy changes, specifically with health care, marriage equality, abortion, desegregation, campaign finance rules, and stop and frisk.

What is your ideal situation to wear undershirts?

I am a big fan of undershirts -- mostly when I exercise or sleep. I’ll also wear undershirts when I go out to more casual bars and restaurants. Whatever the occasion, they’re a staple in my wardrobe.