Employee Spotlight: Ryan Hamilton


Our “Employee Spotlight Series” will share with you who the people working behind the scenes to bring justice to our clients and their environments. This series will include interviews from both our Akron and Pittsburgh offices to give you an idea of who are and what we do.

The employee spotlight this week is Ryan Hamilton. He grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania. He studied at Juniata College in Huntington, Pennsylvania where he got his B.A in Philosophy and English. He got his law degree with a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law at Lewis and Clark Law School.

Q: Tell me how you first got involved with Fair Shake?  

A: I was in my last year of law school working in the Environmental Law Clinic. I was talking to my professor and she asked me what my plans were after law school. I told her I grew up in PA and she had heard of an organization called Fair Shake. Emily Collins, our executive director, was in Oregon and informed me about a residency program in August and I ended up applying. I ended up getting the job and I started as a resident attorney and stayed at Fair Shake for three years. After those three years, I opened my own law firm, Hamilton Law LLC as a solo attorney. Then I returned to Fair Shake as a Supervising attorney position in our Pittsburgh office in 2018. 

 Q: What is a typical day like at Fair Shake? 

A: Usually I come in and check my email for clients and potential clients. In the office, there is a lot of work and coordinating of legal research and drafting of client documents. There is also court appearances.  

Q: Favorite memory from work? 

A: I have a picture in my office that a client took. It reminds me both why I enjoy our work and also the challenges we face everyday. The picture shows a judge, opposing council, and I meeting in front of a historic building that was in the process of being demolished. I enjoy that we get to advocate for a worthwhile causes, but there are challenges that mean we are not always successful. This photo reminds me that it s always important to continue making the effort.

Q: What's a common question you get from clients?

A:  What do we have to do? What can I do? Can we stop this? What are my rights?   

Q: What do you like most about working with Fair Shake? 

A: I like that our vision is very client focused. We are driven by our client's needs. We are a client center that provides counseling and a broad spectrum of issues.  

 Q: What has surprised you most about working with Fair Shake?  

A: That it exists and that we can do more than most people think that we can do. Most people only know us through few interactions, and we do so much more than that. 

Q: What do you wish other people knew about Fair Shake?  

A: We care about the issues we are working on and that we all have personal interests in advancing the work. 

Q: Why do you think the work that you do is important? 

A: There may not always be another attorney that can do this work, and if there is, they are bound to cost a lot of money. We add something different to that experience by providing affordable counseling and even pro-bono work. 

 Q: What do you like to do when you are not working? 

A: I like to go hiking, mountain biking, and gardening.   

 Q: What might someone be surprised to know about you?  

A:  I grew up on a peach orchard with over 200 peach trees. My grandfather who lives just down the street also maintained an apple orchard.

Q: What is your favorite skill that you have unrelated to what you do at Fair Shake?  

A: I enjoy propagating and raising native plants in our garden.