Judge Ryan T. Kessel (Scalia Law ’01)

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Judge Ryan Kessel is an Administrative Law Judge for the Board of Veterans Appeals (“BVA”). Earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in 1998 and his J.D. from Scalia Law in 2001, Judge Kessel started his career at the BVA as an entry level counsel in 2005 after several years in private practice. In 2014, he was selected to be a Veteran’s Law Judge by the Secretary of the VA. In his role at the BVA, Judge Kessel conducts hearings and decides appeals primarily in the area of veterans benefits claims.


Judge Kessel attributes his interest in veterans law to his grandfather who served in World War II and to his administrative law professor, Robert Anthony, who made the subject matter interesting and accessible. Though VA law is complex, Judge Kessel notes that it is different from traditional areas of law in that it is a paternalistic, non-adversarial system where reasonable doubt is resolved in favor of the veteran.


Judge Kessel’s career advice for law students is to find an area of law that is interesting and become a subject matter expert in that area—it will increase marketability and career opportunities.