Ryan Williams, ESQ is known for his meticulous style and aggressive approach in the courtrooms of
Atlanta, GA. Also known as Mr. Lawyer Up, the dapper attorney reflects on a time he had to mix and match his rotation of wardrobe choices growing up in rural Alabama with his single mother. Williams endured racism, peer pressure and the street life, each playing a role into the husband, father, lawyer and entrepreneur he is today.
Stature: Ryan Williams, ESQ. Is there a difference between Ryan and Mr. Lawyer Up?
RW: Mr. Lawyer Up is my alter ego. I use my life skills and what I've been through in life and I just add that to law and the courtroom. I started to win a lot of cases, and it taught me the value of having legal representation. So after winning cases, I was like, this is the outcome when you lawyer up. As for Ryan... well it depends on what room I'm in. I'm a chameleon in a sense. I adapt to whatever the situation is. My nickname was Pappy growing up and no one knew my real name until I graduated law school. In fact, when I graduated from law school, I sent my grandmother an invitation, and she was like, "Who is Ryan Williams? Who is that?"
Stature: You mentioned you wanted to bring you experience into the courtroom, what was your experience growing up? To become a lawyer, one would think it's something you'd always want to do?
RW: Growing up in rural Alabama, in the projects and sometimes trailer homes, I grew up poor. I lived in an all-black neighborhood, but my mom would drive me to an all-white school. I had to deal with being the only black kid in class and when going home, I was "the black kid that went to the white school". I fought a lot at school because I was the black guy and I fought a lot at home because I was the 'sell-out'.
That's a big reason I became who I am, because I knew I was different and didn't fit in anywhere.
I just had to find my place and my place was being who I was.
I also experienced so much police brutality growing up. I grasped a hate for police officers. I remember getting pulled out of my car, I was sixteen years old. My face down on the ground, the cops literally tore my seats out of my car looking for drugs. which I didn't have. Afterwards, they told me to get home how I may. No apology or my bad, no have a nice day. I became a lawyer because I knew one day they'd have to answer to me.
Stature: You have a very beautiful wife and daughter. Were you always prepared for marriage or have you evolved overtime as it relates to family life.
RW: Before getting married and having my daughter, man I had to find value in relationships. I never had a healthy relationship. Growing up for me was the typical black story. My dad wasn't there, and my mom was so busy working and trying to make it happen. And I know my mom loves me dearly, but it's shown differently when you don't have the time.
I'm still learning how to love. At age 32...I'm still learning how to love. I'm learning how to be affectionate. I'm learning how to be a good husband and father.
Nobody gives you a handbook and says this how you become a husband or father. I always think about how to be a better man for them and be conscious of my time to spend with them.
Law has helped me realize, people can die and still be on earth. I’ve seen people get buried. I’m talking jail for 25 years. I’m talking about time that you can never get back with your loved ones.
It makes me think about what am I doing? What am I doing that could potentially take away time from daughter...my wife?
Stature: Your style game is on point. Have you always dressed fresh to death?
RW: Growing up I was an ugly kid. I had no swag; it was hard to have swag when you only had three shirts and two pair of pants. That's actually where I get my style from. I had to mix and match outfits and be creative.
So now, I don't get dressed for anybody else but myself. When I get dressed in the morning, I wake up thinking about how I want to feel.
When I put on my suits, I want that respect.
You’re going to look at me and see; I’m meticulous, I think about everything so when I go into the courtroom, I've already captured your attention...that's part of being a lawyer.
Stature: Pimp C already validated why we like shiny things. You got the bag and invested in a gas station. Why didn't you flex and buy a Rolex or Patek?
RW: For me, it’s always been time, value and money. I need to make this money get me more money, so I can't spend it frivolously, and I don't have anybody to impress anymore.
Before I got the gas station, I started flipping houses. I flipped the first couple homes and made a good profit margin.
A lot of people don’t know this is actually, this is my second gas station. I bought and sold my first one and plan to do the same with this one. That's my new game. I buy a business, I build it up, and sell it to somebody who doesn’t want to take time to build a business up.
Gas stations have been a pillar of the community, like a meet-up spot. It was Starbucks before Starbucks. Sometimes I don't congratulate myself enough.
Before I owned this gas station, I never thought this big. I never dreamt that big. I never dreamed of owning anything outside a house and a car.
Now that I think about it, I was fortunate and blessed to have the capital and the opportunity at the same time to be able to invest.
Stature: What is the origin behind your real estate investment history?
RW: I learned about investment real estate young on a very basic level. I bought my first investment property when I was 21. I took my first tax return and bought a trailer for $3,000, and I rented it out for $400 a month. In the first year, I made my money back. When I finally sold it, I made $5,000 from it.
Stature: You're an attorney and entrepreneur, do you still face day-to-day issues that come with being black?
RW: You know, there are always issues. You're going to run into a problem regardless.
I think it surprised the city of Snellville when they saw me, a black owner. My business partner is Indian, and for whatever reason, he gets a pass. But when I got involved, it was, okay well you got to do extra stuff for this permit and the person behind the glass telling me this, was black. Those are issues that I have to hurdle.
You know with investing and trying to build the empire I want for myself, every time I hear that word ‘No’, I just got to find another way to make it happen.
Stature: Online it seems like we all have it together and figured out through name brands and passports. What are your thoughts on our culture, specifically related to social media and real life norms?
RW: The traditional learning through books isn’t working anymore. People aren’t picking up books. They’re picking up Facebook and Instagram...social media.
Just because you can buy it, doesn’t mean that you can afford it. You can put a hundred pair of red bottoms in your closet. That's $100,000, do you have $100,000 in your account? Well, then you can't afford that.
Stature: What is Stature to you and why is it important?
RW: It’s how we look, and we are looking better, those are the kind of images that we need to put out there because otherwise we turn on the news, and you'll see nothing but black men doing all the crime.
And trust me we are not doing all the crazy things but are represented that way in the media.