Ryan K. Lighty represents and advises domestic and international businesses and government entities regarding litigation, transactions, and regulatory matters involving nuclear reactors and nuclear materials. Ryan regularly counsels clients on a range of complex issues associated with obtaining, amending, renewing, transferring, and terminating licenses from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Ryan helps utilities and electric industry clients achieve sustainability, ESG, and climate change goals through nuclear plant license extensions and deployments of new nuclear technologies. He also counsels companies on the use of small modular reactors (SMRs), advanced reactors, and micro-reactors for non-traditional uses, including production of hydrogen, medical isotopes, industrial process heat, and power for data centers and cryptocurrency mining operations.
Ryan has represented NRC licensees as counsel of record before the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) and the Commission in more contested adjudicatory proceedings than any other attorney in the past ﬁve years, and has litigated a variety of technical, environmental, and ﬁnancial matters. He also routinely guides clients on multifaceted regulatory compliance issues related to ﬁtness-for-duty and work hour requirements, access authorization, ﬁrearms regulation, physical and cybersecurity, radiological decommissioning, and Controlled Unclassiﬁed Information (CUI). He also holds a Top Secret "Q" clearance and is part of the ﬁrm's Classiﬁed Information Services practice.
Ryan also helps employers navigate government ethics restrictions applicable to current and former federal agency employees, and provides assistance to clients regarding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and protection of trade secrets and confidential commercial information. Additionally, he advises clients regarding energy eﬃciency standards established by the US Department of Energy (DOE). Before joining Morgan Lewis, Ryan was an attorney in the NRC’s Oﬃce of the General Counsel and served as acting regional counsel in the agency's Region III oﬃce.
Advised and represented multiple power reactor owners and operators in obtaining NRC Subsequent License Renewals (SLR) that will allow the units to continue producing carbon-free electricity from 60 to 80 years beyond their initial licensing dates.
Advised and represented multiple applicants for SMR, advanced reactor, micro-reactor, and medical isotope facility licenses in various pre-application and application review activities and associated administrative litigation.
Advised and represented a joint venture in obtaining an NRC license to construct and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Southwest Texas.
Advised and represented current and prospective power reactor owners and operators in multiple transactions and NRC license transfer proceedings related to corporate restructuring, traditional sale transactions, and transfers to decommissioning vendors.
Duke University, 2014, Certificate in the National Environmental Policy Act
Indiana University School of Law, 2011, J.D., cum laude
Indiana State University, 2003, B.S.
District of Columbia
US Supreme Court
US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Awards and Affiliations
Ones to Watch, Energy Law, Washington, DC, The Best Lawyers in America (2021–2023)
Rising Star, Washington, DC Super Lawyers (2018–2022)
Member, Nuclear Energy Institute, License Renewal Environmental Task Force
Member, Law Firm of the Year, Energy/Projects: Power (including Renewables), Chambers USA (2018)
Member, Practice Group of the Year, Energy, Law360 (2016, 2019)
Member, Energy Law Firm of the Year, US News & World Report/Best Lawyers (2015)
Executive Managing Editor, Indiana International & Comparative Law Review (2010–2011)
Member, American Bar Association (ABA)
Member, ABA Infrastructure and Regulated Industries Section (IRIS)
Member, ABA-IRIS Nuclear Energy Committee
Member, ABA Section of Energy, Environment, and Resources (SEER)
Vice Chair, ABA-SEER Nuclear Law Committee
Member, Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society