Ryan Marques has earned the distinction of “youngest person to” several times in his legal career. He’s the youngest person to serve on the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s International Center board of directors. He’s the youngest person in Indiana to be appointed honorary consul to a foreign country (Portugal), and he was the youngest person in the history of his former firm, Lewis & Kappes, to be admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ryan is one of the few immigration attorneys nationwide who is equally accomplished in business and investment, employment, family law, asylum, and deportation immigration law. He currently is secretary of the Indiana Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
What needs to be done to make the legal profession more diverse, especially in leadership roles?
I truly believe in mentorship programs. I think it behooves each and every law firm/organization to assign a young attorney to a more senior attorney so that she/he can learn the ropes in regard to not only learning how to survive, but how to thrive in a legal setting. It is not an easy road to becoming partner or earning a leadership role in the legal profession, so the more advice/mentoring that can be facilitated the better and more diverse we will be in the legal profession.
What’s been your most memorable case?
I have too many. However, as my immigration colleagues will confirm and appreciate, there is nothing better than receiving an approval notice in the mail (especially after spending countless hours on responding to a Request for Evidence).
Why did you become a lawyer?
Simply, to make a positive impact in the lives of others. In my immigration legal practice, I have the unique ability to work with persons across all socio-economic levels, cultures, religions, nationalities, ethnicities and political opinions. The fact that I, along with my fellow immigration colleagues, hold the keys in helping shape the future generation of our state in terms of diversity, talent and cultural understanding is something that I am forever grateful for each and every day. Although immigration attorneys rarely make the front headlines, I know deep in my heart that all of our hard work for each and every individual, family and corporate client is greatly appreciated because there is nothing more exciting than knowing that you made a positive and tangible impact on the life of another human being.
What will the profession look like in 15 years?
I can only hope more diverse. I think it is critical that attorneys (whether solo practitioners, government, law firms and the like), especially in the state of Indiana, begin to mirror their clients in terms of race, ethnicity and gender. I am doing all that I can to help make this happen in both my legal practice and volunteer time in the community.
What attracted you to your practice area?
Because my father and grandparents immigrated from Portugal to provide a better life for themselves, I’ve always been of the immigrant mindset to continually strive for a better life not only for myself/family, but for others as well. This started right out of college when working for the Indiana Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs and then assuming the executive director position for the Hispanic Business Council. These positions enabled me to better understand the problems that the immigrant community faced with respect to the lack of access to proper education, employment, housing, business/personal financing, health and so forth, which in turn solidified my decision to attend law school and practice in the field of immigration law. I felt that with a law degree I would have the ability to make a difference in someone else’s life in trying to help alleviate what life throws at them, especially when you are living in a place that is not your country of birth.
What are the advantages and drawbacks of being always accessible to clients and working anywhere?
Well, we are in the service industry, like it or not. I try my best to place myself in the shoes of my clients so when it comes time to answering an email or returning a telephone call, I go out of my way to make it happen the same day because that is what I would expect from my attorney. The only drawback, now having twin children, is that sometimes my family time is compromised.
What do you do to unwind?
Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I’ve been training for more than 13 years, and I am now an associate instructor at my dojo. There is nothing better in life that will mentally take you away from the complex and daily grind of the legal profession, because if you do not focus on the present while you are on the jiu-jitsu mat, then you will be waking up later in a state of confusion and/or with a broken appendage.
What’s the best advice you got from a mentor?
Persistence, persistence, persistence.
Why is it important to be active within legal and community organizations?
Attorneys by nature are problem-solvers, and our community is at a point in time where many problems need to be solved. Having an attorney on each and every community board/organization is integral in ensuring that the mission and vision are carried out successfully for the good of the community in which such board/organization serves. In turn, it is imperative that attorneys make time outside of their practice to volunteer on community boards/organizations because not only is it personally fulfilling, but you will be amazed at how a small group of committed and thoughtful board members and staff can change the world for the better — case in point, the Enlace Academy.
What are the advantages and drawbacks of being always accessible to clients and working anywhere, thanks to technology?
Well, we are in the service industry, like it or not. So, the advantages are such that technology allows us to better serve our clients both efficiently and effectively when it comes to answering questions or solving problems at a moment’s notice. I try my best to place myself in the shoes of my clients so when it comes time to answering an email or returning a telephone call, I always go out of my way to make it happen the same day because that is what I would expect from my attorney. The only drawback I have experienced, now having twin children, is that sometimes my family time is compromised — however, I am always trying my best to strike a reasonable balance between both.
How did your appointment as Honorary Consul of Portugal to the state of Indiana come about?
I first drew inspiration from my fellow consular colleague, Steve Tuchman, who is the Honorary Consul of Denmark to Indiana. After learning more about his duties and abilities to create a bridge between Indiana and Denmark, I became more intrigued and even compelled to pursue a similar role for Portugal. Being a Portuguese citizen myself and the love I maintain for the state of Indiana, I personally approached the ambassador of Portugal to the United States in 2013 (when my father and I visited the Embassy of Portugal together to renew our Portuguese passports) and shared with him both in written and oral format not only the many economic commonalities that the state of Indiana and Portugal share together but, more importantly, the vast amount of opportunities that lie ahead in making both the country and state better places to live, work and raise a family. I take my role as honorary consul very seriously and it is my life-long dream to become the United States ambassador to Portugal.