The people that change their respective
field deserve recognition, and even more so when the field is as important as
law. Some people managed to challenge set legal norms that nowadays we view as
incomprehensible, others analyzed and understood the legal systems so well that
they were able to achieve incredible heights and become inspirations for many
young lawyers to come. For these and many other reasons, some people are worthy
of making the list of the most influential and famous lawyers in history.
Speaking of fame, there is no beating
Lincoln as he was not only an astounding lawyer but also the 16th
President of the United States of America. As the President, his
accomplishments stretch from modernizing the U.S. economy to abolishing
slavery, all while he was leading the nation through the American Civil War
that left a significant impact on the nation. Although on a smaller scale, as a
lawyer he was also an impressively accomplished person. The case that helped
him become one of the most famous lawyers who ever existed is the case People
v. Armstrong. Duff Armstrong was accused of killing a man in a drunken fight.
Despite Lincoln’s criminal defense win track record not being the shiniest, he decided
to try and beat the odds and took the Armstrong’s case despite the gloomy
outcome that was anticipated. He did beat all the odds when he used an almanac
to claim that there was hardly any moonlight that night. By doing so, he threw
the testimony of the main witness out the window and, after a few more hits to
the prosecution, won the case.
On top of being an inspirational leader and
a head of state (he served as the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999),
Nelson Mandela was a spectacular lawyer. He founded the first attorney law firm
owned by black people which served to promote equality in the society, gave
voice to the minorities and was an inspiring example for the black community of
the country. The law worked against Mandela though; he was imprisoned for over
20 years for his activism in opposing apartheid and racist social structure
that prevented the blacks from fully participating in the social, political and
cultural life of South Africa.
Mary Jo White
Known for being persistent, fearless and
relentless, Mary Jo White is the first and only women to be the United States
Attorney of the Southern District of New York. Throughout her impressive
career, she is known for putting John Gotti, a notorious Italian-American
gangster, behind bars as well as successfully prosecuting the terrorists
responsible for the 1983 World Trade Center bombing. She has also won
significant financial cases, most notably Daiwa
Bank of Japan’s $1.1 billion cover-up.
There is no list of influential lawyers
without Joe Jamail, also known as the King of Torts. His uncivil,
straightforward, abrasive style helped him win many cases, some of which
received verdicts for billions of dollars. He had exceptional attention to
detail; he could remember his clients’ names and the details of their cases
years after the trial. Over the years, he managed to make a fortune which
turned him into the richest attorney in the USA at that time.