Attorney Ryan Riesterer, 31, grew up in Sandusky, Ohio, a town he said might be best known for Cedar Point, a “pretty awesome” amusement park with multiple record-breaking roller coasters. He earned his undergraduate degree in political science and philosophy and then a law degree from The College of William & Mary in Virginia. He and his wife Meghan both worked in Washington, D.C., but had friends from college that raved about how great it was to live and work in the Springs. They came for a visit and fell in love. In 2008, Riesterer opened his own firm, Riesterer Law & Consulting, in the Plaza of the Rockies downtown.
What inspired you to open your own firm?
For most people I went to law school with, the expectation was to go to work for a big firm or for the government, or to clerk for a judge and then do one of the above. I think I always knew deep down that this was not what I wanted for my career. I actually hadn’t thought much of opening my own firm until my wife and I moved to Colorado Springs. Once we settled in here, there was just an entrepreneurial spirit that intrigued me, and this made me give some serious consideration to hanging my own shingle. I saw so many people taking risks and striving to achieve their dreams and goals through their own businesses, I thought, I want to do this too, I want to practice law on my own terms. I have to say that my wife Meghan was also a huge inspiration for me. She has been unbelievably supportive in this venture of mine and she’s really the one who ultimately told me to just go for it and be the kind of lawyer I wanted to be.
You travel a great deal from Colorado Springs, Washington DC and Ohio. How do you balance such a schedule?
I rely heavily on technology to allow me to stay on top of everything I have going on. I run a virtually paperless office, so my files are secure and accessible to me wherever I may be physically working from on a given day, and I make sure my clients are able to connect with me in whatever manner they are most comfortable, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email, phone, video conference or even text message. While travel can sometimes take a lot out of people, it actually helps give me the energy to tackle everything I need to.
There is growing interest in the Springs’ entrepreneurial community. You’ve worked with startups. What advice do you give budding businesses?
It’s simple. Prepare for success and assemble a good team. Many legal issues are of little concern to business owners when a company is just starting out or fighting to stay afloat. However, when a company becomes successful, there are countless people who may have an interest in trying to take a piece of the pie and there will often be competitors exploring ways to try and take your business down. It’s imperative for entrepreneurs and business owners to take some time to envision what you want your company to become and how you’d like to get there, and perhaps most importantly, to find an accountant and an attorney that you trust to work with. These professionals can answer your questions and help you think through issues that you might not have ever even considered, but that could ultimately save your business.
You were recently named chair of the Downtown Business Improvement District Board. What downtown improvements would you like to see?
I am a huge advocate for downtown Colorado Springs. There so many tremendous things happening downtown that this is really an exciting time to be involved in this organization. I can say with confidence that work is being done each day to improve downtown in virtually every capacity. While we continue to make great strides, I do recognize that there are areas where improvements can still be made. I believe one such area is our downtown business climate generally. For downtown to truly realize its potential there needs to be better communication among and between business owners, organizations like the Downtown Partnership and the Chamber, and the City Government. To devise and execute a proper strategy for growing and improving downtown, we need to know what’s attracting businesses of all types to downtown, what’s keeping them here, and when a business chooses to close its doors or relocate out of downtown, why that decision was made as well. Additionally, I believe it’s imperative that we better connect our core downtown area to Fountain Creek. We have a tremendous natural resource that could help inject even more life into our downtown; we just need to come together on a plan for making this happen.
Local city and business leaders are interested in keeping young professionals in Colorado Springs. What advice would you give them on how to keep young talent here?
First, embrace the young talented people who are already a huge part of this community and create an environment that is attractive to young people from outside our community. I believe Colorado Springs could do a better job of celebrating the young entrepreneurs and professionals that are here by featuring them prominently in more of the City’s marketing and promotional efforts. This would help young professionals feel more like a critical part of the business fabric of our community and would help showcase the City as a more vibrant and appealing destination for other professionals and businesses to relocate to. Second, engage young professionals as unique individuals and in a meaningful way. Too often I hear people talk about the importance of the perspective of young professionals, as if we all think about things in exactly the same way and we all bring the same talents to the table. This marginalizes the individual contributions that any one of us might be able to make if given a real opportunity. I don’t think we will truly succeed in attracting or retaining talented young people until we as a community stop merely paying lip service to the perspective of young professionals as a group, without ever really backing it up.