Alumnus pursues passion for international work as corporate law attorney
From a young age, Ryan Waggoner ’10 ambitiously aspired to be a judge, an ambassador, and a businessman. Refusing to settle for just one, he pursued a unique practice in international corporate law, and he now manages to combine all three passions into one fulfilling career.
Waggoner, an associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Princeton, New Jersey and New York City, has established a diverse practice advising both United States and international clients on capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions, and other corporate matters. “A third of my clients are Japanese companies relating to securities, another third are Russian and Dutch companies, and the remaining are U.S. based companies in venture capital markets relating to pharmaceuticals, life sciences and technology, ” said Waggoner.
“When I decided to pursue international corporate law, I knew I would need to stand out from the competition. You have to take risks and set yourself apart,” said Waggoner.
Setting himself apart began early for Waggoner, who incorporated Japanese language study and multiple study abroad experiences into his undergraduate program. He continued to customize his training at Moritz by earning a Master of Arts in East Asian Studies and Japanese Legal Studies and a Certificate in International Trade and Development while earning his law degree.
While studying in Japan for a semester of law school, Waggoner participated in on-campus interviewing abroad, which landed him a summer associate position at the Morgan Lewis Tokyo office, a unique opportunity that lead to a job offer after law school.
“I was offered a position with Morgan Lewis in New York,” Waggoner said. “But, due to a big transaction in Tokyo, I was sent abroad very quickly after starting. I was supposed to be in Tokyo for about two years, but it ended up being closer to four.”
In 2014, Waggoner was sent back to the New York/New Jersey office to gain domestic experience. “To become a foreign registered attorney in Japan, you need two years practicing both inside and outside of Japan,” he said.
But, Waggoner hopes to practice overseas again soon. “I really enjoyed the quality of life in Japan,” he said. “I love to travel in general. But living in Japan is an advanced foreignness. Even buying your groceries is an experience. And yet, it’s also an easy place to live. I looked different from everyone else, but I could speak Japanese and live comfortably in a clean, safe, polite, cosmopolitan city with wonderful food.”
“Practicing abroad again is my best chance at becoming a partner,” said Waggoner on his plans for the future. “It’s where my unique skill set is most valuable. I have a broad experience and knowledge base in corporate law, rather than focusing on one narrow area, which makes me an asset for my firm abroad.”
“I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of people who have supported me through each opportunity,” he said. “You often have to be willing to take risks and make your own path to be able to work in a foreign office of a firm during or immediately after law school. I wish I would have known someone in a position like mine when I was in law school, so I’m more than happy to talk with today’s students who have similar career goals,” said Waggoner, who serves on the Moritz LL.M Advisory Council. “International corporate law isn’t the most commonly pursued path after law school, and it takes initiative, hard work, a lot of luck, and a special drive to set yourself apart from the competition to succeed.”