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A History of Giving Back Leads 3L Ryan McGraw to the Law and the Linus Foundation

Although he cannot recall a specific moment in time when he became attracted to the law, Ryan McGraw ’12 said he has always wanted to be a lawyer. McGraw grew up in the Cincinnati suburb of  Finneytown, before attending high school at nearby St. Xavier.  It was during his four years of high school when McGraw developed an interest in serving others, and today he says his legal interests lie in the public sector.

“At St. X, our motto is ‘Men for Others,’ and I think that mindset has shaped my life since I graduated,” he said. “I have always felt called to give back in a meaningful way to those in the community who may be less fortunate than me, and I think it is for that reason that I hope to pursue a career in public interest law.” During his high school years, McGraw attended the American Youth Foundation’s National Leadership Conference (NLC), which he described as bringing together high school kids from across the country, to teach them leadership skills to take back to their communities and schools and make a difference.

“After I completed the four year program, I chose to return as staff, because of the impact that many of my mentors had on me throughout the program,” he said. “I hoped to make a difference in just one student’s life to the degree that my mentors had made on mine.” While at the NLC, McGraw struck up a friendship with a St. X graduate and eventual College of Law alumnus, Pat Hayes ’08, who told him about a non-profit organization he was working with in Cincinnati called the Linus Foundation. The Linus Foundation Cincinnati is a non-profit organization committed to providing service, care, and comfort to underprivileged children throughout the tri-state. Since the branch opened in 2008, Linus Cincinnati has donated thousands of dollars to local charities.

McGraw was “eager to get involved,” and has been very much so during law school, spending a lot of his free time fundraising and “trying to give back to the youth in Cincinnati.” In addition to Hayes, McGraw said John Treleven ’07  is also highly involved with the organization. “It has been tremendous to work with both of them and to get to know them on a personal level,” McGraw said. “It has also been extremely helpful to be able to discuss the challenges of law school and the legal economy with people who have been through the gauntlet recently.”  

The Linus Foundation was recently able to donate $1,000 to St. Vincent de Paul, a non-profit social service agency that provides personal assistant with food, clothing, medicine, rent, utilities, transportation and companionship to people facing economic, emotional or spiritual crises.  This donation was expected to pay for 22 beds for children who did not have one. Certainly, McGraw felt a sense of pride in knowing he was able “to make a difference” in those children’s lives.

Prior to attending the College of Law, McGraw majored in criminology and minored in real estate at The Ohio State University (with McGraw putting a special emphasis on the “The,” perhaps because he gave this interview just days prior to the annual Michigan game).

McGraw’s choice to attend the College of Law after his time at OSU was an easy one, aspiring to work for the Ohio Innocence Project. Not only did McGraw get an opportunity to work for the OIP last year, but he said his time as a fellow has been “by far the highlight of law school.” “In particular, working on the case of David Ayers, who was released in September after serving nearly 11 years for a murder he did not commit, was such an honor and privilege,” McGraw said. “Seeing him walk out of the county jail and spending the first moments of his freedom with him are things I will never forget.”

In his two-and-a-half years at the College of Law, McGraw has also been a part of Student Court, has served as a Student Ambassador, was president of the Law Republicans, was co-director of the Tenant Information Project, and currently is an articles editor for the Law Review.

When he is not busy with law school or helping others, McGraw enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as golfing when he has a chance. The OSU graduate also “look(ed) for any excuse to go back to Columbus on Saturdays during the fall,” he said.


By Jordan Cohen, ‘13