Ryan Shaening Pokrasso is a San Francisco Bay Area attorney who is passionate about assisting entrepreneurs who want to use business as a tool for social change. Ryan’s approach to practicing law is centered on the concept that the best way to help the people he serves is to take the time to understand their goals in order to customize creative solutions.
Ryan advises startups and non-profits as outside general counsel on a variety of matters, including:
- Entity choice and formation
- Employment and labor law
- Startup financing and securities laws
- Intellectual property (including trademark, trade secrets, and copyright)
- Regulatory compliance and land use
Ryan prioritizes communication and transparency when working with his clients, and believes that the attorney-client relationship should be professional but friendly. As an entrepreneur himself, Ryan is constantly inspired by the work of his clients and is excited to help these change makers facilitate progress and achieve impact through their work.
Ryan entered the legal profession by way of nonprofit policy advocacy. He served as Program Director for New Energy Economy, a nonprofit organization in New Mexico, prior to attending law school at UC Berkeley School of Law (“Boalt Hall”). While with New Energy Economy, Ryan organized with diverse communities to support a cap on carbon emissions in New Mexico and he co-authored, lobbied for, and helped pass the New Mexico Green Jobs Act to provide funding for training programs in sustainable industries for disadvantaged individuals and families. He also led an effort that culminated in the establishment of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce – an influential network of over 1,200 local businesses dedicated to strengthening local economies through sustainable business practices.
While at Boalt Hall, Ryan was a leader of Students for Economic and Environmental Justice and served as a board member for the Ecology Law Quarterly journal. Ryan worked with students, faculty, and legal practitioners to establish a student run Environmental Justice Clinic (the Environmental Justice Workshop) to provide pro bono legal services to communities disproportionately impacted by carbon intensive industries and to promote community-driven sustainable economic development in the Bay Area and California Central Valley. Ryan also served as the Social Justice Student Network Coordinator for the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice.
In addition to his time with New Energy Economy, Ryan’s diverse experience includes his service in the following roles:
- Law Fellow for Accountability Counsel where he supported indigenous communities impacted by large energy projects paid for by international financial institutions;
- Law Clerk for Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP where he supported litigation on environmental issues on behalf of community groups, government agencies, and municipalities;
- Law Clerkship for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Senate Judiciary Committee office where he provided extensive policy analysis of congressional proposals for the Senator;
- Attorney Fellow for Sonoma County Counsel’s Office where he practiced municipal law with a focus on legal issues pertaining to climate change, renewable energy, open space, water, natural resources, and land use/permitting.
In 2011, Ryan was awarded a Switzer Environmental Fellowship for his leadership in environmental issues.
In his free time, Ryan enjoys travelling, hiking, camping, cooking, and playing and watching baseball and basketball.
Contact Ryan to discuss your legal and strategic needs and how he may be able to help.
Below are a couple of interviews with Ryan where he discusses his path to law and his approach to working with social entrepreneurs.