Photo of Ryan O. Cantrell

Ryan O. Cantrell



Southern Methodist University, BBA, BA, 2003

Washington University in St. Louis, J.D., 2006


Selected Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, 2015

Named as Houston Top Lawyer by H-Town magazine, 2015

Named “Texas Rising Star” by Texas Monthly Magazine, 2014, 2015, 2016

Washington University in St. Louis School of Law: Editor-in-Chief – Washington University Global Studies Law Review, 2005-2006

Second Place – Pace University National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, 2005-2006

Winner – Washington University Environmental Moot Court Competition, 2005

Best Brief – Washington University Environmental Moot Court Competition, 2005

Dean’s List Spring 2003, Spring 2005, Spring 2006

CALI Award for Commercial Real Estate Planning and Drafting

Judge Samuel Breckenridge Practice Court Prize

Southern Methodist University: BBA Finance with Honors (2003)

BA History with Honors (2003); Minor English (2003)

Magna cum laude

Phi Beta Kappa

Beta Gamma Sigma

University Honor Scholar

Robert H. Stewart Business Scholar

Bar Admissions


U.S. Supreme Court

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

Southern District Court of Texas


Ryan Cantrell maintains a general litigation practice with an emphasis on labor and employment litigation, governmental defense, complex commercial litigation, and construction litigation and arbitration.  In his labor and employment practice, Mr. Cantrell represents employers against Title VII, Section 1981, ADA/ADEA, hostile work environment claims, as well as a vareity of state law claims. In his commercial litigation practice, Mr. Cantrell has participated in a wide variety of cases including trademark infringement, civil fraud, contract, and construction litigation. He has participated in several multimillion dollar construction arbitrations which have resulted in substantial, multimillion dollar victories for his clients. In his governmental defense practice, Mr. Cantrell represents state and local governmental entities, such as municipalities, counties, school districts, and police and fire departments in lawsuits ranging from employment discrimination to constitutional claims.   

Significant Cases

  • Second-chaired a 35-day construction industry arbitration under the International Center for Dispute Resolution in which the arbitrator awarded over 3.2M to our client out of 3.5M sought, denied an 11M counterclaim, and awarded attorneys’ fees. Cross-examined expert witnesses, project managers, corporate representatives, and third-party witnesses. Presented expert witnesses, corporate representatives, and third-party witnesses. Drafted every dispositive and non-dispositive motion, pleading, brief, and responsive document. Argued numerous dispositive and non-dispositive motions and evidentiary issues.
  • Participated in a successful commercial pipeline arbitration under the American Arbitration Association in which the arbitrator awarded virtually 100% recovery to our client (awarding approx. 3.2M out of 3.3M sought) and denied respondent’s counterclaims.
  • Prevailed on numerous dispositive motions on labor employment issues in state and federal court in Texas, California, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.
  • Argued numerous dispositive and non-dispositive motions in state and federal court.
  • Drafted multiple petitions, motions, and responsive pleadings to Texas appellate courts, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.

News & Publications

  • Individual Governmental Immunities in Federal Court: The Supreme Court Strengthens an Already Potent Defense, The Advocate, vol. 47 (Summer 2009) (co-author with William S. Helfand)

  • Finding Nemo . . . and Eating Him: The Failure of the United Nations to Force Internalization of Negative Social Costs Resulting from Over-fishing, 5 Wash. U. Global Stud. L. Rev. 381 (2006)
  • Individual Immunity Claims in Federal and State Court, in State Bar of Texas, Suing and Defending Governmental Entities, ch. 3 (2005) (co-author with William S. Helfand) 

Seminars & Presentations

  • Recent Cases: Texas Tort Claims Act, Houston Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section Luncheon (May 2007)

Professional Affiliations

  • Texas State Bar Association