“A Christian education is quickly becoming one of the few ways to ensure that your children are exposed to absolute truth.”
When you picture an excellent trial lawyer, who comes to mind? Abraham Lincoln? Thurgood Marshall? Maybe Atticus Finch? If you find yourself in the Columbia, South Carolina area and need legal advice, you might want to give 2003 Hill Country graduate, Ryan Holt, a phone call.
Although he says legal trials are becoming rare these days, Ryan still finds them to be the most fulfilling part of his work. “I practice largely in the area of civil defense,” says Ryan. “So, my clients are typically businesses who are being sued by someone who claims they were injured because of the business.” Ryan’s clients include hotels, retailers, restaurants, and grocers, while also litigating in additional areas such as transportation, commercial, construction defect, and product liability.
Before becoming a successful lawyer, Ryan was learning the craft of writing as a Hill Country student – which would be very handy later on in his legal career. “My humanities education required lengthy, intensive research and writing,” says Ryan. “I learned to write at Hill Country. Patricia Brunson’s English instruction was instrumental in teaching me how to write. Her drama class probably also helped me hone the abilities necessary to work as a trial attorney. Kim Gardiner (Hunt) was also instrumental in teaching me the logic skills necessary for law school. A Christian education is quickly becoming one of the few ways to ensure that your children are exposed to absolute truth.” Ryan also served as student council secretary his junior year, student body president his senior year, as well as editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, The Vellum. Ryan also completed and published a thorough history of the beginning of Hill Country Christian School titled A Scholastic Legacy: The History of Hill Country Christian School of Austin.
In addition to recounting various memories of life at Hill Country, including chapel rehearsals and grilled cheese sandwiches, Ryan cited one particularly unforgettable Tuesday. “My junior English teacher (American Literature) was Barbara Jackson,” says Ryan. “She had a tradition of beginning the class with the singing of a different hymn. Our hymn that Tuesday morning was ‘I Need Thee Every Hour.’ After we sang it and prayed, she told us what had happened.” That morning was Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
After graduating from Hill Country, Ryan went on to receive his B.A. from the University of South Carolina in 2006, majoring in Political Science and minoring in History. Ryan then went on to receive his J.D. in 2009. As a transition from higher education to private practice, Ryan worked as a judicial law clerk for a circuit judge. “I spent every day with a judge who had been a lawyer for 30 years and had the privilege of watching 12 civil trials and 12 criminal trials ranging from soft tissue car wrecks to a death penalty case,” says Ryan. In 2010, Ryan joined the firm he practices with today. “I became a shareholder in the firm a couple of years ago and am learning what it is like to run a business,” says Ryan. “I’ve had the opportunity to try almost a dozen cases and argue before our state’s Court of Appeals.”
In 2016, Ryan ran in the Republican primary for the 69th District of the South Carolina House of Representatives. “Fortunately, the Lord used that opportunity to identify an idol of politics in my life that had consumed my identity,” says Ryan. “Today, I am using the time once dedicated to politics to become more involved in my church, serving as a teacher of a couples Sunday School class at my church and now as chairman of our deacon board.”
Ryan, his wife Jill, and their two daughters are enjoying life in South Carolina, living just a few hours from the beach in one direction, and mountains in the other. And, like most alumni who live out of state, Ryan had the following to say: “I think most of all I miss the Tex-Mex food. I still eat Mexican food, but I try not to even compare it to Austin’s.”