Even though Rylee Sommers-Flanagan traveled to Georgia, Scotland and California for school, she always knew she wanted to end up at home, Montana.
“It’s the best place on earth,” she says. “I think Montana is politically unique. I think it’s such an amazing place to live, enjoy access to public land, be part of a community. One of the things I love about Montana is how willing we are to show off for our neighbors.
Sommers-Flanagan is driven by responsibility to contribute to her community where she can. And, with a love for solving problems, talking to people, and working within existing systems to effect change, Sommers-Flanagan has found her calling as a lawyer.
Last year, she founded law firm Upper Seven. The company, which is non-partisan, is on a mission to hold those in power accountable.
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Sommers-Flanagan said, particularly under Montana’s constitution, there are many ways litigation and the law can be used to advance the public interest and serve people.
During its year as a firm, Upper Seven has worked on voting rights, access to justice and prison disputes, such as discrimination and the conditions of detention – housing – of prisoners, Sommers-Flanagan said.
“I hope our work will be a deterrent against the passing of unconstitutional laws, a bulwark against encroaching power grabs — those two things meaning something similar,” Sommers-Flanagan said. “I also hope it gives people models for how lawyers can be more proactive in litigation on issues that may not be very lucrative, but address social issues related to social justice. “
She said the experience of founding Upper Seven has been a rollercoaster ride and really exciting. In the year she ran, she said the company went 3-0, yet to lose a case. Sommers-Flanagan said that bringing up so many cases in such a short time, for her, means Upper Seven is fulfilling a role that needed to be fulfilled.
“One thing that has been extremely rewarding over the past year is feeling like we’re showing up and making a difference,” Sommers-Flanagan said.
Outside of his job at Upper Seven, Sommers-Flanagan often goes on hikes with his poodle, King Ernesto the Sympathetic — Ernie for short — while listening to a Stephen King novel on audiobook.