Thomas Ryan is a trial lawyer who represents clients subject to government enforcement actions, conducts sensitive internal investigations, and litigates bet-the-company cases in both federal and state courts. As a former federal prosecutor, Thomas brings the courtroom perspective when shaping the response to any government enforcement action. His trial-ready strategy has earned him a reputation as a go-to lawyer for companies facing complex white-collar criminal and civil enforcement matters. Thomas is also routinely entrusted with leading clients’ most sensitive internal investigations, often involving C-Suite implications. As an acknowledgement of the breadth and depth of his experience, Thomas has been repeatedly recognized in two categories of Chambers USA and Best Lawyers both for white-collar defense and the energy litigation, as well as The Legal 500.
Thomas complements his criminal practice with a complex commercial litigation practice, focused primarily on the energy and health care industries. In the energy space, he routinely represents upstream and midstream members of the unconventional gas industry active in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations lying under Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. His energy practice has evolved with the ever-changing technological landscape, leading him to represent a number of traditional oil and gas producers who are embarking into the digital-asset mining industry. As his practice in that emerging industry has continued to grow, Thomas serves on the firm’s internal digital asset task force, which is a cross-practice group, cross-office effort to coordinate and grow the firm’s borderless digital asset practice.
In the health care sector, Thomas is also an active member of the firm’s Health Care Fraud task force, a cross-practice collaboration between the firm’s internationally recognized Health Care and White Collar Defense and Investigation practice groups. As part of that group, Thomas actively defends a broad spectrum of health care providers in various forms of qui tam actions, involving allegations of violations of the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, and Stark Law.
Thomas began his legal career with K&L Gates, where he gained broad international experience representing clients on a variety of commercial litigation matters. This was highlighted by a year-long secondment at an international construction client collaborating with an Italian joint-venture partner to design and construct an offshore gas-to-liquids facility in the Niger Delta, which provided a tremendous professional growth opportunity, as he was consistently called upon to provide sharp legal analysis under unrelenting time constraints.
After several successful years with the firm, Thomas served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the white collar crime section for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Thomas tried numerous cases to jury verdict and argued a number of appeals before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Thomas focused his efforts on political and business corruption, ranging from the conviction of several elected officials in a voter-fraud conspiracy to a coal company executive involved in a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme. Having tried the full spectrum of federal crimes, including Titles 18, 21, 26, and 31 of the U.S. Code, Thomas returned to private practice at K&L Gates in 2014.
In 2015, Thomas had the privilege of being appointed special counsel to the Pennsylvania State Senate’s bipartisan Special Committee on Senate Address, which was constituted to consider the removal of then-Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a historical constitutional moment in the commonwealth’s history.
Further, in 2018, Thomas was entrusted by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia to represent the institution in coordinating its cooperation with multiple federal grand jury investigations and overlapping impeachment proceedings involving alleged misconduct of certain sitting members of the court.
As an example of the breadth of Thomas’s experience, beginning in late 2016 he guided a global nuclear engineering company through a sensitive accounting fraud internal investigation, which culminated in a multi-billion dollar bankruptcy and ultimately led to a parallel federal and state criminal fraud investigation. Beginning with a cross-border, multi-jurisdictional investigation involving multi-lingual document review and interviews in late 2016, Thomas managed a team of dozens of lawyers and consultants to deliver a thorough, independent, and objective internal investigation to allow the client to obtain an audited balance sheet and facilitate its emergence from bankruptcy in 2018. Following the completion of the internal investigation in late 2017, federal and state law enforcement launched a multi-year securities and account fraud criminal investigation. Thomas led a team that ultimately resulted in securing a prosecution declination of the company in the summer of 2021 from both federal and state law enforcement, as the parallel criminal proceedings continued against the company’s former executives. This five-year long engagement involved the entire gamut of legal issues that arise in any cross-border internal investigation and federal criminal prosecution and underscore Thomas’s ability to handle the most complex and sensitive matters.
Thomas also devotes a substantial amount of his time to many of the firm’s worthy pro bono efforts, including mentoring law students through the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity, serving on the Criminal Justice Act Panel for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and as an independent director on the board of PLEA Agency, Inc., a nonprofit organization committed to educating and improving the quality of life for individuals of all ages with behavioral or developmental disabilities.
- Recognized by Chambers USA for Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations in Pennsylvania, 2020-2023
- Recognized by Chambers USA for Energy & Natural Resources in Pennsylvania, 2021-2023
- Recognized by The Best Lawyers in America® for Criminal Defense: White-Collar, 2023-2024
- Recognized by The Best Lawyers in America® for Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy), 2023-2024
- Recognized by The Legal 500 United States for Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense, 2019-2023
- Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for Criminal Defense: White-Collar and Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy), 2024
- Leadership Pittsburgh, 2021 Class XXXVIII
- Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, Law Student mentor
- Independent Director of PLEA Agency, Inc.
- United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Tocqueville Society member
- WDPA Criminal Justice Act Panel member
- American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section member
- Allegheny County Bar Association, Federal Court Section member
- Energy & Mineral Law Foundation Strategic Planning Committee member
- Republican National Lawyers Association member
- The Federalist Society member
- McCandless Township Republican Executive Committee member
- Thomas C. Ryan, “Race to the Truth: Leveraging Data Analytics in Government Investigations,” Pittsburgh Chief Compliance Officer Roundtable Fall 2023 meeting, Pittsburgh, P.A., 1 November 2023
- Thomas C. Ryan and Kristen M. Frost, “Juries, Jury Consultants, and White Collar Defendants,” Lightfoot White Collar Institute, Washington, D.C., 26 April 2023
- Thomas C. Ryan and Adam J. Tejeda, “Financial Accounting,” K&L Gates Mini-MBA Professional Development Program, Washington, D.C., 28 February 2023
- Thomas C. Ryan moderated “Insights from In-House: A Panel Discussion with Key Energy Players,” 13th Appalachian Law Conference, September 2022
- Thomas C. Ryan, et al., wrote and moderated panel session CLE on “Houston We Have A Problem: Agents With Badges Are At The Front Door - The Basics for Companies in Responding to a Government Investigation.,” September 2020
- Thomas C. Ryan, Mark A. Rush, et al., “Traversing Borders - Coordinating National and International Investigations Initiated Internally and Externally by U.S./International Law Enforcement,” Under the Wire, 13 February 2020
- Thomas C. Ryan, et al., Considerations for What Your Lease Doesn’t Say: An Update on Implied Covenants in the Appalachian Basin, Energy & Mineral Law Foundation 40th Annual Institute, Washington, D.C., 9-11 June 2019
- Thomas C. Ryan et al., What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You, Right? Resolving the Inherent Tension Between the Yates Memo and the Collective Knowledge Doctrine in Environmental Criminal Enforcement Actions, Energy & Mineral Law Foundation 39th Annual Institute, Nashville, TN, 17-19 June 2018
- Thomas C. Ryan and Katherine Gafner, Minimizing the Intrusion of an Enforcement Action, In-House Counsel Presentation, 6 October 2017
- Thomas C. Ryan et al., Phases and Considerations of a Government Investigation, section presentation, “The Criminalization of Environmental Regulation: How to Respond and Isthere More to Come?,” K&L Gates CLE Program, Houston, TX, 28 February 2017
- Thomas C. Ryan et al., Corporate Responses to Investigative Requests by the Federal Government, Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, 1 November 2016
- Thomas C. Ryan, The Life Cycle of a Complex Federal Financial Crime: FinCEN Coming Full Circle?, West Virginia Bankers’ Association Annual BSA/AML School, 20 October 2016
- Thomas C. Ryan et al., Law Firm Beware: Environmental Due Diligence in Corporate Transactions, 26 September 2016, K&L Gates Firmwide training seminar
- Thomas C. Ryan, Federal Rule Changes Affecting e-Discovery Are Here - What are the Implications?; section presentation, “The Interplay of the Ethics Rules,” K&L Gates CLE Program, Pittsburgh, PA, 3 December 2015
- Thomas C. Ryan and Nicholas J. Ranjan, Ethical Considerations Arising In Depositions, K&L Gates Associate Training Program, Pittsburgh, PA, 3 September 2015
- Thomas C. Ryan, Money Laundering Concerns in M&A Transactions, Pennsylvania Bar Institute Ethics CLE Program: “Mergers and Acquisitions: Developments and Practice Tips,” Pittsburgh, PA, 18 June 2015
- Thomas C. Ryan and Mark A. Rush, A Guide to the Development of a Cyber Data Breach Action Plan, K&L Gates CLE Program: Cybersecurity: Minimizing Risk and Managing Consequences, Pittsburgh, PA, 9 December 2014
- Thomas C. Ryan and Allison L. Burdette, Tracking the Trends in BSA Prosecutions and AML Regulatory Compliance, CNB Bank, Inc. Bank Secrecy Act employee training program, Berkeley Springs, WV, 28 October 2014
- Thomas C. Ryan, Bankruptcy Fraud and Criminal Prosecution, West Virginia State Bar, CLE Program, 26 May 2011
- “BNA Insights: Imbalance of Power: Federal Prosecutors’ Nearly Unilateral Discretion to Resolve Allegations of Corporate Misconduct After D.C. Circuit Panel Overrules District Court’s Rejection of Deferred Prosecution Agreement in U.S. v. Fokker,” Securities Regulation & Law Report, 2016
- “U.S. District Court Judge Rejects Deferred Prosecution Agreement with Non-U.S. Company: Lessons for Companies Considering Similar Agreements,” Bloomberg BNA, World Securities Law Report, Volume 21, Number 5, May 2015
- “West Virginia is Not the Best Comparison for Proposed Pennsylvania Tax,” The PIOGA Press, May 2015