PMH Professor Runs for Office

By: Annie Beckstrom

LSU Law boasts a curated selection of gifted, accomplished faculty members from all areas of the law. Our professors work hard to remain in tune to the needs of PMH students, providing a rigorous yet stimulating academic experience well suited for practice outside of the law school bubble. While fully preparing students to be successful, engaged members of the law community may seem like an onerous task in itself, several LSU Law professors find time to remain active participants in the local community and frequently appear in the media for their civic minded achievements. This past Saturday, thousands of Louisianans flocked to the polls to cast their votes for a wide array of government offices. One may have noticed a familiar PMH name on the ballot this year. LSU Law Professor Chris Tyson owned the challenge of running against incumbent candidate Tom Schedler for the office of Secretary of State.

Although Professor Tyson joined the LSU Law faculty relatively recently in 2010, he is part of a law center legacy. His father, the late Honorable Judge Ralph E. Tyson, was a 1973 graduate of LSU Law and Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2009. Judge Tyson served as Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana from 2005 until his passing in 2011, making him the first African American to fill the position in the Middle District. As a Baton Rouge native, Professor Tyson attended high school at the neighboring LSU Laboratory School and selected Howard University to pursue his undergraduate education in the field of Architecture. He proceeded to earn a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government in 2003.

Professor Tyson maintains a broad range of professional experience in the private, non-profit, and governmental sectors. He joined the legislative staff of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu’s Washington D.C. office during a period of painful turmoil for his home state of Louisiana. Beginning the position one day before Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, Professor Tyson coordinated Senator Landrieu’s negotiations with Louisiana-based organizations working in the aftermath of the storm and monitored all Katrina-related legislative developments. He views his experience in Washington as the catalyst that drove him to return to his roots. “I can’t think of a more powerful experience to draw you back than playing some bit part in the post-Katrina process. It really emboldened my desire to come back to Louisiana.”

Professor Tyson can relate to the schedule many upper class law students are currently enduring. While enrolled in law school at Georgetown University, he managed to stay on top of his demanding course load and clock 30 hours a week at Senator Landrieu’s office. He served as the articles editor of the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law and received the Dean’s Certificate of Recognition of Special and Outstanding Service to the Law Center Community. Upon graduation in 2006, Professor Tyson opted to accept a position with the firm Jones Walker LLP in his hometown of Baton Rouge. His practice as a real estate and land use attorney focused specifically on negotiating and drafting purchase agreements, commercial leases, servitudes, title opinions, municipal annexations, the creation of special taxing districts and several other real estate transactional issues. Although his primary focus centers on teaching at LSU Law, he continues to consult clients on real estate development matters.

Prior to accepting the position as Newman Trowbridge Distinguished Associate Professor of Law at Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Professor Tyson served as President of Baton Rouge Capital Area Transit System Board of Commissioners. As Board President, he spearheaded a major financial reform effort for CATS and directed an executive leadership search and transition. Since leaving the CATS Board, he remains a prominent advocate of the importance of mass transit to economic development, urban development and social justice.

Now that campaign proceedings have ceased, Professor Tyson is committed to providing LSU law students with valuable, hands on legal education when he returns for the spring semester. His style of educating incorporates a unique blend of diligence and positivity, a talent cultivated through his experience as a local youth mentor and volunteer prison educator at the Suffolk County Prison in Boston. Tyson courses on the docket include Real Estate Development, an Urban Land Use and Development Seminar, and Local Government Law. Any students interested in pursuing careers in the political realm should take advantage of the opportunity to learn the ropes from our home-grown professor with a finger on the pulse of Louisiana politics. With a staff full of passionate, consummate professionals like Professor Tyson, it’s a great time to be a PMHer.

UPDATE 10/26/15 at 1:20 PM: Republican incumbent Tom Schedler maintained his position as Secretary of State after receiving 62 percent of the vote.