Tyler’s researching how the idea of the ‘virtuous’ country lawyer has changed — but also how we might take law back to those roots.
“I have always been interested in a social justice aspect of the law, and how you can use the law to change society. There's such a big justice gap in America."
"Having courts rule on cases can help strengthen protections of historically disenfranchised people.”
In the past, lower-income and rural cases were championed by the ‘country lawyer’ — which was an aesthetic as much as a profession.
“I looked at how the country lawyer arises in media as a cultural phenomenon within the hearts and minds of Americans."
"For example, a lot of people used to think of lawyers like Atticus Finch (from “How to Kill a Mockingbird”) as a moral hero for standing up to racism in the rural south.”
Today, with more people concentrated in cities, rural lawyers have to be more careful not to isolate themselves from work in small communities, where cases are already more limited.
“A lot of lawyers today are really disillusioned with the state of the profession."
"I want to come up with a new idea of a potential community lawyer to reinvigorate the profession and give us a unifying mythos.”
One idea Tyler is looking at is holistic law, which brings in social services to address the other needs people face during litigation. He also suggested rural lawyers could supplement their practices in the city.
“I feel a lot of pride in the work I'm doing because I have a really high degree of independence. My mentor is guiding my progress, but also said this independent research will make me the expert in country lawyers.”
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