December 6, 2006

Joseph Ryan, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Marriott International, Joins Venable in Washington

5 min

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 6, 2006) – Adding one of the country’s top in-house corporate counsel, with almost 40 years of transactional experience, Venable LLP announced that Joseph Ryan, Executive Vice President and General Counsel with Marriott International, Inc., is joining the firm on December 18 as a partner in its Washington D.C. office.

Mr. Ryan has been with Marriott since 1994, heading up a law department that now has 85 attorneys, while overseeing the offices of corporate secretary, government affairs, and corporate communications.  He has also been on the Board of Directors of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company since 1996 and has served as Ritz-Carlton’s senior vice president and general counsel.

Mr. Ryan has played a leadership role in all major transactions for Marriott over the past 12 years, as the company became a global hospitality powerhouse, with more than 3,000 properties under management in more than 65 countries.   Marriott now has some 150,000 employees and system-wide sales of $20 billion. Mr. Ryan led the legal team as Marriott expanded its reach across more than a dozen lodging brands, including Bulgari Hotels; Ritz-Carlton; J.W. Marriott; Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites; Renaissance Hotels and Resorts; Courtyard; Residence Inn; and Marriott ExecuStay.

Mr. Ryan directed extensive due-diligence and other in-house counsel supporting Marriott’s numerous acquisitions over the past decade-plus, including, the heralded Ritz-Carlton properties and Renaissance Hotel Group, as well as the disposition of such large assets as Marriott Managed Services, Marriot Distributed Services, and Marriott Senior Living.

Overseeing legislative affairs and governmental relations for Marriott, Mr. Ryan was instrumental in the enactment after September 11 of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which has provided a vital safety net for Marriott’s domestic lodging portfolio. He also oversaw litigation matters for the company, including successful results in actions brought by various Marriott hotel owners.  In addition, he served on Marriott’s Corporate Growth Committee, which has decision-making authority over major capital allocations.

Recognizing Mr. Ryan’s work in building a model organization among in-house legal departments, the Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association recently honored Marriott for having the Outstanding Law Department of the Year.  Mr. Ryan also received the prestigious 2006 Matthew J. Whitehead II Award for advancing diversity in the legal department. 

Mr. Ryan came to Washingtonin 1994, having already distinguished himself in private practice.  He spent 27 years as a corporate attorney with O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, joining the firm’s management committee in 1990 and serving as O’Melveny’s firm-wide managing partner during 1993 and 1994.

“Joe Ryan is a bona fide legal superstar who has achieved peak success on multiple playing fields, as a top-tier transactional attorney and law firm managing partner, but also as a general counsel for one of the world’s leading lodging and hospitality companies.  We are honored that he has chosen to spend the next phase of an already stellar career with us,” said Venable managing partner Karl A. Racine.

Mr. Ryan will become a member of Venable’s business transactions practice, which has a number of major hospitality and real estate clients that should benefit from his Marriott experience.  “First and foremost, we hope to see Joe play an active part in our deal advisory work, which continues to grow on many fronts,” Mr. Racine said.

“At the same time, we look to Joe to mentor and guide practice development in other areas where he brings a wealth of experience, including legislative and government affairs, but also litigation, compliance, and corporate securities,” Mr. Racine added.  “And of course, his background in senior law firm management will be invaluable as we continue our own national expansion.  Joe’s insights and perspective will certainly be called on for strategic planning and even recruitment.”

At Marriott, Mr. Ryan worked closely with a number of Venable attorneys as the firm provided counsel on several major transactions, including Marriott’s $1.45 billion acquisition of 32 hotels and joint venture interests from CTF Holdings.  Venable’s legislative group also has worked actively on numerous Capitol Hill projects for Marriott, including the passage of the Terrorism Insurance Act in 2002.

“Although I wasn’t certain about returning to private practice, the decision to join Venable was a natural one, given my successful working relationship with the firm while at Marriott and the advantage of having seen first-hand the high caliber of attorneys there in so many practice areas,” said Mr. Ryan.  “I’ve been fortunate to have two highly challenging and satisfying chapters in my legal career and I look forward to contributing to the continued growth of Venable.”   

A dedicated proponent of volunteerism, Mr. Ryan has served on numerous boards of businesses, educational institutions and charitable organizations over the past 35 years, including the California State Chamber of Commerce and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.  In the last several years, he led Marriott’s participation in the Street Law program (, providing three MontgomeryCountyhigh schools with instruction in law and democratic governance.

Mr. Ryan received his J.D. from ColumbiaLaw School in 1967.  He earned a B.A. from Universityof Washington, where he was starting offensive tackle for the school’s 1964 Rose Bowl Team.  After law school, Mr. Ryan became a Captain in the U.S. Army and served in the Corps of Engineers from 1968-1970.  He was an instructor in Trial Procedure and Evidence at Fort Belvoir in Virginia and received a Bronze Star for service in Vietnam.

Let us know if you would like to speak with Mr. Ryan.

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