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Ryan Gustafson took his first steps toward a career in law while he was in middle school. Students in history class staged a mock trial. Gustafson and a classmate were serious about their assignments as prosecuting attorneys.

“Over the course of a week, we had to collect evidence, witnesses, etc. and finish by conducting a jury trial,” Gustafson said. “I loved the challenge and ability to argue my side and have wanted to be an attorney ever since. It didn’t hurt that we won either. The desire to become an attorney stuck with me and years later after a lot of studying and hard work, I became an attorney.”

Gustafson’s interests extended beyond the classroom. The University of Montana recruited the Skyview offensive lineman, and the Grizzlies won five consecutive Big Sky Conference titles from 2003-07, when he was part of the team.

Contrary to critics’ complaints that college athletes are pampered, Gustafson said football was a demanding job.

“There was weight training and treatments to help you get over the nicks, practice, watching film and of course games. And there was classwork on top of that,” he said.

Gustafson graduated during the winter of 2007. That gave him time to travel and work in a local law firm before he entered the UM School of Law.

He and his cousin flew into Bejing, took a train through Manchuria and Siberia to Moscow, then headed to Western Europe.

“It was a challenge because we went to places where nobody spoke English,” Gustafson said.

Law school was just about what he expected: non-stop reading, studying and preparing for class. “What’s nice about going to the only law school in Montana is that you get to meet other Montanans you grew up with. It’s a good group of people.”

Law school provided crucial training. “There are always deadlines. You’re always dealing with pressure to get things done.”

Matovich Keller and Murphy has developed experise in iinsurance defense, commercial litigation, employment law, workers’ compensation, veterinary malpractice defense, products liability, and mediation services.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Each case presents unique challenges. It is important, and sometimes very difficult, to keep an open perspective and critical mind when approaching those challenges. However, doing so is essential to obtaining the best outcome for my clients.

What’s the best business advice you have received? “Everything you do is worth doing the right way.”

Who gave you that advice? My father. At an early age he taught me to complete each task, job, etc. the right way and to the best of my abilities. While I am not perfect, this has stayed with me throughout my life.

Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I want to continue to develop my role within the Billings community by being more active and involved with local activities and organizations. From a simple 5k benefit race to helping lead positive change with organizations such as the Her Campaign. Additionally, I think it is equally important to encourage others to join in these endeavors as well. Oftentimes, the simple act of introducing someone to these types of opportunities will spur their future involvement.

Which living person do you most admire? My sister. She has had so many accomplishments over her life that were the direct result of her hard work and perseverance. She is a smart, compassionate, and talented person and is someone I admire very much.

Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?  I believe it is important to set goals both small and large. These goals help keep both the day-to-day and long term goals in focus and fuel the passion to work towards those goals.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Maintaining a strong relationship with my family. Over the years we have spread out across the state and the country. However, we have always taken the time to maintain strong connections. As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate how important and valuable the unbreakable bonds of family are in my life.

I’m happiest when I’m… Setting off on a new adventure whether it is a camping trip to Red Lodge or jetting off to a place I’ve never been. Although, a University of Montana victory on Saturday isn’t too bad either…

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