Ryan has dedicated his legal career to helping individuals obtain exceptional results when confronted with life-changing legal problems. Ryan most recently worked as a trial lawyer at the nationally renowned Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. where he represented clients charged with all manner of federal crimes.
Ryan excels at developing creative legal strategies tailored to individual clients’ needs. In recognition of his skill as a courtroom advocate, Ryan was honored as the Most Outstanding Advocate by the San Diego Federal Bar Association in 2022. Ryan has tried dozens of cases to verdict and has obtained favorable outcomes for his clients at trial and on appeal in the majority of them.
In addition to trial practice, Ryan maintains a vigorous motions practice which helps clients achieve their goals without the risk of trial. Ryan’s skill as a pre-trial and trial advocate is what sets him apart from other lawyers and makes him an exceptional advocate.
In addition to his work representing clients, Ryan is frequently quoted in the news commenting on various cases. He has twice published a chapter in a national treatise titled Defending a Federal Criminal Case, and he regularly trains lawyers and law students on all aspects trial work.
Ryan graduated cum laude with a degree in finance from Illinois Wesleyan University and obtained his law degree from DePaul College of Law.
Recent successes include:
• United States v. Lopez, 998 F.3d 431 (9th Cir. 2021). Ryan represented Mr. Lopez at sentencing and obtained a court ruling allowing him to receive a lower sentence. This ruling was a first nationally and it has sparked intense ongoing national litigation surrounding the issue.
• Velazquez-Hernandez v. U.S. Immigration & Customs Enf't, 500 F. Supp. 3d 1132 (S.D. Cal. Nov. 16, 2020). Ryan worked with a group of undocumented defendants to obtain an injunction barring immigration officers from arresting them at the courthouse in violation of the law. President Biden subsequently changed the national policy related to courthouse arrests in his first week in office.
• United States v. Cano, 934 F.3d 1002 (9th Cir. 2019), reh’g and reh’g en banc denied, 973 F.3d 966 (9th Cir. 2020), cert. denied, 121 S. Ct. 2977 (2021). Ryan represented Mr. Cano at trial and argued that his phone was unconstitutionally searched. The first trial resulted in a hung jury and Mr. Cano was convicted at the retrial. On appeal, Mr. Cano’s conviction was reversed due to the unconstitutional search, and the appellate ruling was successfully defended despite the government’s application for en banc review and a petition for a writ of certiorari.
Tommy Vu was born and raised in San Diego, California. As the son of refugee parents, he grew up in a blue collar, working-family household where he was taught the value of hard work at a very young age. Nothing was ever given—everything had to be earned. Tommy credits his parents’ work ethic for his success in life and in the courtroom.
In high school, Tommy’s first introduction to the legal field was as a plaintiff suing his doctor for medical malpractice. This experience showed him firsthand the difficulty of navigating through the legal system and motivated him to be the first lawyer in his family.
Tommy has extensive experience handling civil and criminal litigation in both the public and private sectors, from California to New York. He is admitted to practice law in California, New York, and Washington D.C.
Before and during law school, Tommy worked at international law firms in Hanoi, Vietnam. After graduating from law school, Tommy began his legal career as a Trial Attorney at the Federal Defenders of San Diego. Tommy moved to New York City where he worked for an Am Law 100 law firm specializing in Complex Civil Litigation and serving as a member of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel in the Southern District of New York representing indigent clients pro bono. Tommy recently returned home to San Diego specializing in Wildfire Litigation representing California residents whose homes and businesses were destroyed in fires started by large utility companies. In the process, Tommy learned how insurance companies handle claims brought against them.