Top 10 Greatest Lawyers Of All Time

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Practicing law might be one of the toughest professions to pursue. It takes years of schooling and dedication and it can cost a fortune. While lawyers can be easily criticized and are the subjects of some pretty funny jokes, the world needs

them. They help shape our laws and develop the policies that enable us to live our lives. They are of great help when you need one and they can a nightmare when they are working against you. It should come as no surprise that the majority of US presidents have been lawyers. The following is a list of the top 10 greatest lawyers of all time.

 

10. Dan Webb

Dan Webb Top 10 Greatest Lawyers Of All Time

Ranked as the top litigation expert by Guide to the World’s Leading Lawyers and the top white-collar criminal defense attorney by Corporate Crime Reporter, Dan Webb is one guy you don’t want to come up against in court. One of his greatest achievements was exposing corruption at all levels during the Iran-Contra trials. This even included an interrogation of Ronald Reagan. He has also successfully represented Microsoft, Philip Morris and General Electric. He has been praised for his ability to win over jurors with his country charm. He undoubtedly has a lot of knowledge and wisdom to go along with that charm. 

9. Ted Wells

Ted Wells Greatest Lawyers Of All Time

He acknowledges his ability to make complex issues appear simple. Ted Wells has been a fierce defender for such clients as CIA leaker Scooter Libby who had his 30-month prison sentence controversially pardoned by George Bush in 2007. He also defended Exxon Mobile, Mike Milken and some congressmen. One of his highlights was successfully defending Citigroup against fraud charges. Also of note was his representation of disgraced senator Eliot Spitzer. He was named Lawyer of the Year by the National Law Journal in 2006. More recently, in 2015, he was hired by the NFL to investigate the “Deflategate” scandal. 

8. Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz Greatest Lawyers Of All Time

After spending most of his career at Harvard Law School, Alan Dershowitz became the youngest full professor of law in its storied history. Dershowitz is perhaps best known for his work as the appellate advisor for the “Dream Team” of lawyers that successfully defended O.J Simpson during the infamous murder trial. Other high-profile clients have included Mike Tyson, Jim Bakker and Patti Hearst. He also played a role in the overturning of Claus von Bulow’s conviction for the attempted murder of his wife. Dershowitz has also written several books including Reasonable Doubt: The Criminal Justice System and the O.J. Simpson Case. 

7. Mary Jo White

Mary Jo White Lawyer

Mary Jo White is a fearless lawyer who even the most powerful of criminals do not want to face. She is known for having overseen the successful prosecution of John Gotti as well as the terrorists involved in the 1983 World Trade Centre bombing. She currently serves as Chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. After President Bill Clinton’s last day pardons, Attorney General John Ashcroft appointed Mary Jo to investigate Marc Rich’s very controversial pardon. Mary Jo White ranks as one of the top 10 greatest lawyers of all time. 

6. F. Lee Bailey

F. Lee Bailey Greatest Lawyer

F. Lee Bailey was a criminal defense attorney who took part in several high-profile cases. He rose to prominence in the re-trial of convicted murderer Dr. Sam Sheppard in which Sheppard was acquitted. He later represented “Boston Strangler” Albert DiSalvo. He is also remembered for his role in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson whose not-guilty verdict stunned the world. Bailey also had his share of controversies. It is believed that he was in fact drunk during his closing arguments in his defense of Patti Hearst. Bailey’s reputation took an irreparable hit when he was disbarred in Florida and Massachusetts in 2001 and 2003 respectively due to his mishandling of stocks in a previous case. He was denied reinstatement in 2012. 

5. Johnnie Cochran

Johnnie Cochran Greatest Lawyers Of All Time

Remembered as a key defense lawyer in the infamous O.J. Simpson trial, Johnnie Cochran spoke the now famous quote “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit”. Of course, we know that the jury did in fact acquit Simpson.

Long before the O.J. Simpson trial, Johnnie Cochrane had established himself as a premiere lawyer. He represented many well-to-do clients such as Michael Jackson, Sean Combs, Tupac Shakur, Riddick Bowe and Todd Bridges. He was an active advocate for victims of police brutality and a reputation for fighting for the underdog. He successfully won a police brutality settlement worth $8.75 million against the New York City Police Department on behalf of a Haitian immigrant. He retired in 2002 and died three years later. 

4. Clarence Darrow

Clarence Darrow Most Famous Lawyer

Perhaps Clarence Darrow’s most high profile case was his defense of murderers Leopold and Loeb in 1924. His closing arguments lasted an astonishing 12 hours and it was effective enough to spare the defendants from the death sentence. He was also the defense in the famous Scopes “Monkey” Trial in which he proved to be a masterful legal tactician.

He was referred to as a “sophisticated country lawyer” and was known for his quick wit and charm. He was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and had a reputation for sticking up for the “little guy”. Darrow authored several books and he has been depicted both on stage and on screen. He is one of the top 10 greatest lawyers of all time. 

3. John Adams

John Adams Greatest Lawyers Of All Time

John Adams had quite a career. He was a lawyer, a Founding Father, a diplomat and 2nd President of the United States. As a lawyer, he defended eight soldiers who were charged with participating in the Boston Massacre. Despite the chances of his reputation being tarnished he was successfully able to get 6 of the soldiers acquitted while 2 were found guilty of manslaughter instead of murder. The trials ended up having a positive impact on business. He was also selected to fill a vacancy in the Massachusetts legislature which boosted his profile even more. From there he would go on to be one of the most influential people in the history of the United States. 

2. Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Was a Lawyer

We remember Abraham Lincoln best as an American President and possible vampire slayer. He was also one of the top 10 greatest lawyers of all time. It was Lincoln’s reputation with his clients that earned him the nickname “Honest Abe”. He is the first American President to hold a patent and quite possibly the first and only lawyer to be given a nickname containing the word “honest”. Lincoln was involved in many landmark cases during his career as a lawyer.

Lincoln’s most famous case came in 1858 when he defended a man against charges of murder. He was able to discredit an eye witnesses’ testimony with the use of a Farmer’s Almanac which lead to his client’s acquittal. 

1. Joe Jamail

Joe Jamail Greatest Lawyer Of All Time

Nicknamed the “King of Torts”, billionaire Joe Jamail was the richest attorney in the United States. He was involved in many high profile cases including his representation of Pennzoil against Texaco in which he walked away with a $335 million contingency fee. The $10.5 billion verdict is the largest jury award in history. He successfully took on General Motors, Remington Arms and Honda among others. Each of those victories saw outrageously high awards and equally outrageous fees paid to Jamail. He is well known to be unapologetically abrasive. He was chastised by the Delaware Supreme Court as conducting himself in a “rude, uncivil and vulgar” manner as well as displaying “an astonishing lack of professionalism and civility”. All name-calling aside, Jamail is one of the top 10 greatest lawyers of all time.

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2 Comments on "Top 10 Greatest Lawyers Of All Time"

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Dan Z
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Hmm.. So every single greatest lawyer of all time is American? What a very odd coincidence… What are the chances?!

Chris Phillips
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it’s ok if you’re jealous. We don’t mind

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