Skip to main content

How Ryan Hayes kickstarted his business law career at Osgoode

April 30, 2024


Growing up surrounded by lawyers as both a son and a brother, Ryan Hayes thought he had a good grasp of the legal profession. However, his experiences didn’t leave him with a favorable impression.

“My dad and my sister work on the litigation side, but I wanted to be the one making the strategic decisions, negotiating contracts and managing relationships, so I went to school for business, specializing in accounting,” he says.

But Hayes’ perspective on the family occupation flipped when he took a business law class as part of his undergraduate studies.

“We learned all about incorporation, contracts and negotiation. Here was this whole area of law that I had no idea about, and it was everything I thought accounting was going to be,” he says.

Pretty soon, Hayes was ready to change direction, applying to law schools in the U.K. as part of his plan to get involved in the country’s thriving entertainment and media industry after graduation.

However, with the European legal market still struggling in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, Hayes switched tack and began summering at a Bay Street law firm following his time at the University of Glasgow.

After securing an articling position at the firm for the following year, Hayes found himself out of sync with Canadian law school timelines because of his 2012 Glasgow graduation. Recognizing this gap, he seized the opportunity to deepen his knowledge of business law via an LLM.

Although there were plenty of alternative options, Hayes found himself drawn to OsgoodePD’s Professional LLM in Business Law. He was particularly attracted to the program’s unique approach to the subject, which emphasizes interactive discussions and interdisciplinary learning through a unique mix of academic, applied, and theoretical perspectives.

“Some of the other schools I looked at were very academic in their focus, but I wanted to be in an environment where I could learn from my colleagues, as well as instructors and guest speakers with experience in the industry,” Hayes says. “Osgoode’s Business Law LLM was positioned as much more hands-on and practical, which is what I was looking for – and it delivered on that positioning.”  

Hayes was also attracted by the flexibility of the program, which allowed him to distribute his courses in a way that suited his schedule – with a heavier load in the first year that would allow him to reduce the intensity of his academic commitments during his articling term.

“It gave me a big leg up early in my career,” Hayes adds.

As one of the younger members of his cohort, with a burgeoning business law practice, he was particularly struck by the diversity of professional backgrounds among his classmates, who included lawyers in private practice, securities enforcement specialists and seasoned business leaders without formal legal training.

“It was always a very engaged classroom, full of well-informed people who were open to thinking differently and debating, which made for a really good learning environment. I’m still in touch with a number of my colleagues,” Hayes says. “Toronto is a big city, but a small place, so knowing people that are experts in particular areas of business law comes in handy.”

A decade on from his Osgoode graduation in 2014, Hayes’ Business Law LLM experience still resonates in his current position as Associate General Counsel for venture debt specialists Espresso Capital.

One course in particular, covering international finance, has proven extremely relevant to Espresso’s relationships with growth technology companies, many of which are based abroad, including in the U.S. and the U.K.

“In that course, we got to see how things are done in different places and the policy positions that determine the changes in law across jurisdictions,” Hayes says. “I took it because I’m interested in a comparative approach to law, but the knowledge that I built has ended up being very helpful in my career.”

Want to learn more about the Professional LLM in Business Law? Sign up for an Information Session!