Earlier this year, Ryan Bravata was appointed to the Board of Directors of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York’s (LeGaL) Foundation. LeGaL was one of the first, and remains one of the largest and most active, bar associations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender legal community in the United States. In his leadership role, Bravata helps LeGaL fulfill its mission of improving the administration of the law and ensuring full equality for members of the LGBTQ+ community, and guides the nonprofit LeGaL Foundation as it provides educational programs, advocacy, and legal services.
Bravata has centered community service and activism in his life since childhood. Growing up in the South—with parents, religious leaders, teachers, and friends as role models—he volunteered at the local nursing home, taught in his church's vacation bible school, and participated in building projects and mission trips. With that same altruistic drive, he joined a college fraternity that prioritized philanthropy.
“I think all of those experiences ultimately led me to become an attorney, and in particular an immigration attorney,” says Bravata, who is now the U.S. Immigration Attorney-Manager for the international consultancy Vialto Partners. “Like most people, I entered the profession wanting to be of service to others. While I had no idea what that would look like when I first started at St. John's, the lessons I learned and the experience I gained there gave me the foundation I needed to be a service-oriented lawyer.”
One of those formative Law School experiences, Bravata shares, was joining and, eventually, serving as president of, OUTLaws & Allies. The student-run affinity group aims to foster awareness of, and advocacy for, legal issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community; eliminate stigmas associated with the LGBTQ+ community in the legal profession; and promote a spirit of inclusivity and support at St. John’s Law. Tapping into the Law School’s LGBTQ+ alumni/ally network, and New York City’s vibrant LGBTQ+ culture, OUTLaws & Allies also hosts events and programs throughout the year.
“Prior to starting at St. John's, I wasn’t fully ‘Out’ professionally or socially,” Bravata says. “Joining OUTLaws & Allies my 1L year was the first time I was able to actively participate in an organization without having to hide a part of myself in order to be accepted. My enthusiasm led me to join other community organizations as a law student member, including LeGaL and the New York City Bar Association's LGBT Rights Committee."
In his ongoing affiliation with LeGaL today, Bravata enjoys being more involved with the inner workings of the organization. “Serving on the board has been a wonderful way to connect with attorneys from various industries,” he says. “LeGaL offers numerous events, CLEs, podcasts, and journals for our members. Participating in LeGaL’s legal clinics and providing pro bono assistance to the community has been rewarding as well. And, as a member of the organization’s Development Committee, it’s been great to find ways for LeGaL to fund its vital programming and legal representation. I believe it’s a lawyer’s path to uplift others. For me, being of service to the New York’s LGBTQ+ community through LeGaL is an honor, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”