Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Cornett and Bosau on Country Lawyers

Judy M. Cornett, University of Tennessee College of Law, and Heather H. Bosau, a 2020 graduate of Tennessee Law, have published The Myth of the Country Lawyer in the Albany Law Review 83 (2020): 185-167:

Everyone knows what a “country lawyer” looks like. He (it’s always a “he”) is middle-aged or older, an avuncular mix of wisdom and good humor. He is a generalist, in a small town, deeply connected to his community. He is trusted and respected. The person who is called upon when trouble threatens. Figures as diverse as Sam Ervin Jr. and Gerry Spence have called themselves “country lawyers,” and many lawyer obituaries claim that their subjects were “simple” country lawyers. The familiarity of the country lawyer qualifies it as an archetype in American culture.1 But, surprisingly, as familiar as the country lawyer archetype is, there has been little analysis of the history, characteristics, or role of the country lawyer in American culture. This Article will examine how the country lawyer came to be a familiar figure in American culture, tracing the archetype through its fictional and non-fictional manifestations. The Article will also analyze how the country lawyer archetype has affected the public perception of the American legal profession.
–Dan Ernst