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The erosion of the country lawyer: an exploration into the past, present, and future of the legal profession

Viljaste, Tyler (2022) The erosion of the country lawyer: an exploration into the past, present, and future of the legal profession. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The average modern American, when asked to think of what a modern successful lawyer looks like, would likely imagine an urban corporate lawyer working for a large law firm making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. But as little as 70 years ago, the archetype for a successful lawyer in the mind of the average person was likely extremely different - more so going back 100, or even 200 years. Urbanization, specialization, professionalization, and corporatization have emerged, among numerous other factors, as driving forces behind redefined visions of what today’s “successful” lawyer looks like - for without large cities, large corporations, and specialist lawyers, much of the aforementioned imagery would not have been cultivated, and would not continue to be cultivated, as defining images of legal success. In focusing on defining success as those lawyers who work for large corporations in big cities, we fail to capture the true spirit of American lawyering – one that was lost long ago, and yet, to this day, remains an object of desire for the very lawyers who fit the modern archetype for success. In Part II of this paper, I introduce the “country lawyer” by defining its separate linguistic, historical, and mythical actualities. In Part III of this paper, I map the fall of country lawyers, detailing the greatest forces throughout history that posed threats to their existence and identifying the state of the contemporary country lawyer. In Part IV of this paper, I offer an analysis of the current state of the country lawyer as an ideal and ethos as opposed to the existence of the country lawyer itself. In Part V of this paper, I demonstrate how the county lawyer can be both literally and figuratively integrated in modern America by bridging the rural-urban divide, promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, and altering the way law schools teach the law to aspiring lawyers. In Part VI of this paper, I conclude by exploring the impact of the reification of the country lawyer in modern America.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Viljaste, Tylertjv24@pitt.edutjv24
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHibbitts, Bernard
Committee MemberHarris, David
Committee MemberWeisberg, Richard
Committee MemberCornett, Judy
Date: 27 April 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 25 March 2022
Approval Date: 27 April 2022
Submission Date: 20 April 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 83
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Politics and Philosophy
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: lawyers American lawyering Atticus Finch Brackenridge Daniel Arshack Lincoln
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2022 14:52
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2022 14:52


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