Tyler Mazur (A20) Takes First Step in Law Career
May 27, 2020 | By Les Poling
Public service can take many forms. For some, it might mean a career in politics. Others may think of it as volunteering or nonprofit work, and still more may regard it as serving in the military. For recent Annapolis graduate Tyler Mazur (A20), it’s something more abstract: a nuanced act that combines empathy and compassion, a sense of societal community, and long-term actualization. Moving forward, he plans to continue a years-long commitment to public service with a career in law—starting with a paralegal position at the Department of Justice Antitrust Division in Washington, DC.
Before enrolling at St. John’s, Mazur, a veteran, spent nearly seven years as an emergency medic in the Army, with stints in Korea, Germany, Maryland, and Afghanistan. Afterwards, he returned home to Ohio, where he worked for an ambulance company. In other words, he already had a substantial amount of worldly experience before arriving in Annapolis. Still, he was drawn to the intellectual vastness of St. John’s. “Growing up Catholic, I was never more than one or two degrees from considerations of moral philosophy in the abstract,” Mazur explains. “As a teenager, I began to make earnest conclusions in the directions of existentialism and anarchism. But above anything else, I had a keen desire to get out and experience the world.” The more he learned about the Program, the more enticing it seemed. He packed his bags and moved from Ohio to Maryland.
Four years later, his experience at St. John’s has proven itself both intellectually broadening and extraordinarily practical. After journeying through Plato, Newton, Shakespeare, Simone de Beauvoir, and many more, he describes his reading and writing as “worlds better.” Even more pertinent to him personally, he suggests, is the Program’s consideration of formal logic and rhetoric. “That began in the first days of freshman year with Euclid’s Elements, and that seed has not ceased growing since,” Mazur explains. “To be able to navigate a system of values or ‘truths’ in order to prove something to another person, or perhaps more importantly, to myself—that was a skill that was strengthened immensely through my engagement with the Program.”
Which leads directly to Mazur’s post-grad destination: the Department of Justice. He originally discovered the paralegal position through a recruiter who visited campus last year—the parameters of the job aligned not only with his interest in law, but also his fascination with intellectual property. During the 12- to 14-month program, Mazur anticipates working on issues typical of the Antitrust Division: scrutinizing commercial contracts and American businesses, and searching for improprieties related to mergers, acquisitions, and industry practices.
“During the recruitment and vetting process, they weren’t shy about letting us know we’re there to help the attorneys, and the workload is going to be heavy” he says. “It’s going to be poring over a lot of contracts, picking out which pieces of data and information are necessary to make decisions about which deals go through, which contracts are valid.” Mazur feels ready for the challenge. “I intend to get to know the Department of Justice up close and personal,” he remarks. “I want to see the political and institutional aspects of law.”
It’s what he hopes will be the first stage in a long and fruitful legal career. He doesn’t know what the distant future holds, but for now he’s interested in exploring the nuances of the 21st century public sphere, especially as it relates to the wild world of the internet. He recalls the massive legal battles around intellectual property in the early days of widespread internet use, particular the file-sharing site Napster. “The night before it shut down, I was downloading music, and I realized that there were millions of people across the world who were doing the same thing,” he says. “That really opened my eyes to the power of the internet and the power of intellectual property, and how that debate is going to continue.”
“That’s where I want to end up in law,” he adds. “Intellectual property, copyright law, that kind of stuff.”
Mazur is fascinated by how the world continues to change as the internet expands and breaks down traditional barriers to information access. It’s a relatively young technological force that touches on every aspect of contemporary life, including law, institutional platforms, and the idea of the public forum—now virtual and open to all. “I think it’s obvious that the information revolution is far from over, but how society’s opinions on intellectual property will change in the next 25 to 50 years is anyone’s question,” he says. “I want to be part of that dialogue.”
In his view, participating in that dialogue as a public servant is an element of “actualized citizenship”—the idea of actualization as referenced in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but applied to society, not just the individual. “I believe that society is a tool that we can all use to grow and live a more fulfilled life,” says Mazur. “I think public service is an investment: if you help make society all that it can be, it comes full circle, and society helps you become all you can be.”
In that regard, the aspect of St. John’s that best prepares him for a legal career may be more encompassing than formal logic or the Socratic method. Throughout the Program, Johnnies explore a plethora of perspectives that have helped shape society, from Aristotle to Frederick Douglass. That’s something Mazur prizes just as much as reading, writing, and logic.
“I came to St. John’s to get a diverse intellectual foundation,” he says. “I got just that. And I think remembering to keep that in mind as you navigate a much more diverse world—and being mindful of your preconceived notions—sets you up for success.”