Ryan C. Watkins



Ryan C. Watkins is a litigation associate with Foley & Lardner LLP, and a member of the firm’s Business Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice. Ryan assists corporate clients throughout all phases of complex commercial litigation, mediation, arbitration, and all forms of alternative dispute resolution. Ryan has successfully litigated cases in both state and federal courts as well as in multiple states including Michigan, Missouri and New York. Ryan has also successfully tried both bench and jury cases in Michigan state courts.

Ryan has substantial experience in defending clients in general contract, supply chain, recall, trade secret, insurance, securities and products liability litigation as well as False Claims Act litigation. In particular, Ryan has successfully defended automotive and manufacturing clients, among others, in high-stakes, bet-the-company, recall and trade secret litigation.

Ryan is also very active in the firm’s pro bono practice. Ryan regularly participates in the Detroit Bar Association’s free legal services clinic advising indigent clients in various civil matters including housing, bankruptcy, expungement, insurance and family law matters. Ryan regularly contributes to the University of Michigan Law School’s Innocence Clinic and the national Innocence Network through the writing of amicus briefs on various relevant legal issues for federal and state appellate courts.

Prior to joining Foley as a summer associate in 2013, Ryan previously worked as a policy intern for the Clinton Global Initiative and Clinton Foundation, a legal intern for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and a public policy professional at the Center for American Progress and American Federation of Teachers. Prior to starting his legal career, Ryan was a high school teacher for Chicago Public Schools.

Representative Matters

  • Defended automotive suppliers in lawsuits brought by customers and original equipment manufacturers regarding general contract disputes as well as high-stakes warranty and recall litigation
  • Negotiated and litigated commercial disputes between tiered suppliers
  • Defended against claims of spoliation of evidence seeking preclusion and adverse inference orders
  • Defended against False Claims Act and Qui Tam claims including whistleblower retaliation claims
  • Negotiated, litigated and executed forensic examinations of complex computer systems for transnational corporate clients
  • Oversaw extensive e-discovery involving millions of documents
  • Arbitrated and mediated breach of contract and fraud claims

Notable Recent Professional Highlights

  • Successfully defended a tier one automotive supplier against a $20 million breach of contract and automotive recall indemnification jury trial resulting in an unanimous jury verdict of no cause of action on all claims
  • Successfully defended a Fortune 500 corporation in breach of contract and contractual indemnification bench trial resulting in directed verdict on all claims and successfully defended against their appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals

Pro Bono

  • Detroit Bar Association's free legal services clinic
  • Innocence Network's amicus curiae briefing project    


  • University of Michigan Law School (J.D., 2013)
    • Student attorney, Innocence Clinic
    • Board Member, student chapter, American Civil Liberties Union
    • Board Member, student chapter, American Constitution Society
    • Board Member, Student Funded Fellowships
  • University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy (M.P.P., 2013)
  • University of Michigan (B.A., 2005)    


  • Texas
  • Michigan