Ryan Leonard

Ryan Leonard

Special Counsel for Native American Affairs to Gov. Stitt

Ryan Leonard has extensive experience litigating cases in federal and state courts, and specializes in solving complex business problems for his clients.  Ryan practices primarily in the areas of business law and litigationinsurance lawreceivership law and receivershipsoil and gas litigation, and Native American and Tribal law. He maintains the highest Martindale-Hubbell Preeminent Attorney Recognition (“AV”) rating for skill and ethics for attorneys based on professional peer reviews, and has been selected annually since 2016 as a top-rated “Super Lawyer” for business litigation.

Prior to entering private practice, Ryan served as a state prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office in Canadian County, Oklahoma.  Ryan also served for four years (1994-98) as a Legislative Assistant to former U.S. Senator Don Nickles in Washington, D.C., in which capacity he served as the Senator’s chief legislative aide on issues involving the federal judiciary, Indian Affairs, transportation, agriculture and natural resources.

Ryan is very active in the local community, currently serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Mercy Hospital- Oklahoma City.  Ryan co-founded and is a past president of the Downtown Club of Oklahoma City, and previously served on the Board of Trustees of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the Board of Directors of the Central Oklahoma Red Cross, the Central Oklahoma YMCA and KIPP Charter School, the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Academy of State Goals, the Legal Ethics Committee of the Oklahoma Bar Association and was a member of Leadership Oklahoma Class XIX.  Ryan has also volunteered his time pro bono for Oklahoma Lawyers for Children, serving children at risk in the foster care system.  At a younger age, Ryan earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

In 2008, Ryan was appointed by the Governor as a Commissioner representing the State of Oklahoma on the national Uniform Law Commission, and was reappointed in 2014 and 2018.  In 2015, Ryan was appointed by the President of the national organization to the Executive Committee, and as chair of the national Legislative Council.  Ryan has served on numerous committees within the organization, including drafting committees implementing the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements (facilitating international contracts) and drafting a Model Tribal Probate Code.  Ryan co-chairs the Committee on Attendance, and serves on the Committees on Scope and Program and State and Federal Relations. 

Through his law practice, Ryan is also regularly appointed by multiple Courts as a “Receiver” over troubled businesses, tasked with either managing, rehabilitating, or liquidating the business for the benefit of creditors.  In 2018, at the request of the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner, the Oklahoma County District Court appointed Ryan as “Interim CEO” of Union Mutual Insurance Company, an Oklahoma-domiciled insurance company, that was successfully rehabilitated and emerged from receivership.  Ryan served as Interim CEO for a period of six months during which time he identified and installed a permanent corporate leadership team. In addition, in 2019, Ryan was appointed by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma to serve as Chairperson of a three-member Commission to assist the Federal Court in determining just compensation to multiple landowners in a federal eminent domain pipeline action.

In 2020, Ryan was hired by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to serve as his Special Counsel for Native American Affairs.  In this capacity, Ryan assists the Governor and his administration on issues arising from the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, through which the Court ruled the Creek Nation reservation still exists within the State of Oklahoma for purposes of criminal jurisdiction. 

In January 2021, as authorized by Oklahoma law, Governor Stitt designated Ryan as the lead negotiator for the state in the discussions with Oklahoma's Native American tribes to address the foundational jurisdictional issues raised by the McGirt decision.

Ryan earned his law degree from the University of Oklahoma, and graduated magna cum laude from Boston College.  Ryan also attended the L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Strasbourg, France.  In his spare time, he enjoys coaching his children's activities, reading history, travel and archaeology. He is the co-author of “Opala:  In Faithful Service to the Law,” a biography on former Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Marian Opala, as well as "Principles and Perseverance: The Life of Don Nickles."

Ryan is admitted to practice before the Oklahoma Supreme Court and all Oklahoma state courts, the federal courts of the Western and Northern Districts of Oklahoma, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Tax Court.


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