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Lynn Tyler, Biology, Alumni

Attorney uses science degree to fill the need for litigators with life and health science knowledge

Lynn C. Tyler | 2007 Alumni, M.S. Biology | Biology Department, Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology An accomplished partner at Barnes and Thornburg LLP, in 2003 Lynn Tyler saw an opportunity to bring additional value to his firm by completing a master’s degree in biology in the School of Science at IUPUI.

Having served as lead counsel for appellate matters in over 30 cases before the Supreme Court of the United States and various federal and state courts, Mr. Tyler’s legal contributions are many. Still, he knew that earning a science degree from IUPUI made him eligible for admission to the patent law bar, strengthening his reputation in the patent litigation field.

“In choosing biology, I followed the ‘Find a need, and fill it’ principle,” explains Tyler, who graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame and magna cum laude from the University of Michigan’s Law School. When he started at IUPUI, Barnes and Thornburg’s Indianapolis office lacked patent litigators with biology or life sciences degrees; they were all either engineers or non-technical. Says Tyler, “I was aware of Indiana’s life sciences initiative and thought this would create some opportunity for me.”

While working full time, Tyler increased his load to from one to three courses each semester. In just three years he completed his master’s degree. With the School of Science’s reputation and the campus’s close proximity to his downtown office as driving factors, Tyler didn’t feel a need to explore other alternatives.

“Once I knew I could go to IUPUI, I thought ‘why would I go anywhere else,’” Tyler says. “I received a top quality education at a relatively modest cost. Further, I was impressed that, despite IUPUI’s size, the Biology Department took the time to design a program to fit my unusual circumstances.”

Since graduating from the School of Science, Tyler returns to campus periodically as a guest lecturer in Dr. Kathleen Marrs’ biotechnology class. His presentations have focused on patent law, as it relates to issues in life science. From these appearances, Tyler has received at least two inquiries from students who share an interest in exploring patent law as a career.

In addition to his successful career at Barnes & Thornburg, Tyler is one of six attorneys credited for founding Indianapolis’ Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic (the Clinic) in 1994. The organization offers free legal advice and education to low-income residents, and currently engages over 100 attorneys to serve more than 12,700 people each year. Noting his ongoing work with the Clinic as “one of the better things I’ve done in my life,” Tyler received the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Pro Bono Award in 2002 and Barnes & Thornburg’s Joseph A. Maley Pro Bono Award in 2009, honoring his work.

On June 14, 2010, Tyler will be honored with the nationally prestigious Burton Award for Legal Achievement for his article, “Recent Supreme Court Decision Heightens Pleading Standards, Holds Out Hope for Reducing Discovery Costs.” Judged by law professors at Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California Law School at Irvine, Tyler was one of just 30 lawyers from the nation’s 1000 largest firms to be recognized with the award this year.