Barnes & Thornburg Partner Lynn Tyler has been a member of the Legal Clinic family since the very beginning—since even before the beginning in fact. Along with Abby Kuzma and the other founders, Lynn was present at the 1992 Palm Sunday sermon that started it all, delivered by Dr. Frank Kik at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church. “Dr. Kik laid out his vision for Tab’s role in the community,” says Lynn. “This involved some 20 or so different items—one of which was a legal clinic.”
For the next year and a half, Lynn, Abby, and the other founders conducted research and met with various pro bono clinics as they developed a plan of their own to serve the legal needs of the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood. Lynn recalls one clinic that boasted two or three attorneys and a few other staff members. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great if we ever got this big?’” he says with a laugh.
In 1994, the Legal Clinic finally opened its doors to the public, but it was slow going at the start. “I don’t know how many people we helped that first year,” Lynn says, “But you probably wouldn’t have to take off your shoes to count them.” Since that time, the Clinic has expanded to serve more than 10,000 low-income people annually, with over 35 staff members, a satellite office in Ft. Wayne, numerous intake sites around the city of Indianapolis, and a team of committed volunteers.
Over the years, Lynn has worn many different Clinic hats. He served on the Board—for a time as Treasurer, and later on as the Chair. And although his tenure on the Board is over, Lynn remains a faithful supporter of the Clinic, volunteering at the Zionsville Presbyterian Church intake to meet with new clients and discuss their legal needs. He loves this opportunity to interact with clients, but shares that the hardest moments come when he is unable to assist someone with a legal matter. “It’s always tough because you form some degree of attachment with these people and if the Clinic is not able to help them, it’s just frustrating,” he says. “You just wish you could help everybody, but you know you can’t.”
When the Clinic is able to assist someone though, Lynn revels in such victories. He especially loves the opportunity to attend the Clinic’s annual Justice For All Gala. “One of the great things about going to JFA is getting to hear client stories and what a positive impact the Clinic made in their lives,” Lynn says. “They’re totally fired up about it.”
Looking at the work of the Legal Clinic today, serving so many people in the community, Lynn can scarcely believe its transformation. He recalls a time when the Clinic as an organization was living donation to donation. “In those days, our motto was, ‘The Lord will provide,’ says Lynn. “And He always did.”
To learn more about the Clinic’s Justice For All Gala or to purchase your own ticket, please visit our website.