15 of the Most Famous American Lawyers


Abraham Lincoln – Wikipedia

Originally published by Vanessa R on April 2022. Edited by Charity K on 2023.

From ancient Rome’s and Greece’s finest orators (such as Cicero and Demosthenes) to modern-day attorneys (such as Robert Kardashian and Alan Dershowitz), there have been many prominent lawyers you may have heard or read about.

In this article, we’ll look at fifteen well-known attorneys from both the past and the present United States. It’s also fascinating to see how many presidents have hailed from the legal profession.

Click here to read about famous lawyers from other countries.

1. Robert Shapiro

Robert Shapiro was born on September 2, 1942, in Plainfield, New Jersey. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson School of Business in 1965 and a law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles in 1968. He distinguished himself from his peers at Loyola by winning two American Jurisprudence honors as well as the school’s moot court competition. As a result, he was named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His time as a judge equipped him with future contacts and demonstrated that the courtroom was his true calling.

He was admitted to the California State Bar in the 1960s. His most important involvement was as a member of the defense team for OJ Simpson, who was charged with murder. He led a dream team of lawyers in successfully defending himself against these accusations. Later, Robert Shapiro founded LegalZoom.

2. Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall by The Detroit Tribune from Wikimedia Commons

Thurgood Marshall was one of America’s most well-known lawyers. He was a lawyer as well as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, serving as the court’s 96th Justice.

He is also well-known for becoming the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall was first admitted to the bar in Maryland. His most notable legal achievement was heading the Brown vs. Board of Education lawsuit, which resulted in the desegregation of public schools in the United States.

3. Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson by Library of Congress from Wikimedia Commons

The “schoolmaster in politics,” Thomas Woodrow Wilson, is most known for his high-minded idealism, which he demonstrated in his leadership on the faculty and as president of Princeton University, as well as in his national and international statesmanship during and after World War I. With the passing of time and developments in the United States, Wilson’s achievements have been re-evaluated.

He was not just the 28th President of the United States, but he was also a brilliant lawyer. He became a lawyer after being accepted to the Georgia State Bar. Prior to becoming President of the United States, he acquired a Ph.D.

4. Johnnie Cochran

Johnnie cochran

Johnnie Cochran from Mark Winograd from Wikimedia Commons

Another well-known American lawyer who worked in OJ Simpson’s defense and acquittal is Johnnie Cochran. He also represented Jim Brown, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, Sean Combs, and Todd Bridges, in addition to OJ Simpson. During the 1960s, he was licensed to practice law in California. Before moving into the private sector, he worked as a criminal prosecutor in Los Angeles.


5. William Howard Taft

Many attorneys choose to enter politics, and William Howard Taft was no exception. He was the 27th President of the United States of America. He also served as the United States 10th Chief Justice.

He holds the rare distinction of being the only individual who has ever held both roles. Initially, Taft was accepted to the Ohio Bar. He worked for Hamilton County as an assistant prosecutor. He went on to become President of the United States shortly before the country joined World War One.

6. Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson by Edward Anthony from Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Jackson had a long and eventful career, which included a stint as a lawyer. Many people link the guy shown on the $20 note with his presidency of the United States. He was also admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1787, in addition to serving as the seventh President.

At the age of 21, he was one of the youngest prosecuting attorneys in the history of the United States. He is also one of the Democratic Party’s initial founders. His service as President of the United States, Senator, Military Governor, Soldier, and Attorney earned him a spot on the $20 note.

Read more about famous lawyers here.

7. Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is most remembered as the 16th president of the United States, who led the country through one of its darkest episodes in history, the Civil War. He was a highly successful lawyer in addition to being a politician.

In 1836, he was admitted to the Illinois Bar and immediately began practicing law. Abraham Lincoln was a multi-talented attorney who handled both criminal and civil cases. Before he entered politics, Lincoln and his partners had handled over 5,000 cases.

8. Robert Kardashian

Despite the fact that many people identify the Kardashians with the entertainment industry, their father is one of America’s most recognized lawyers. He graduated from the University of San Diego with a law degree and passed the bar exam shortly after. He was involved in the civil sphere in addition to acting as a part of the defense team in the OJ Simpson case. Despite the fact that he died in 2003, his legal achievements continue to astound many in the field.

9. Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon is undoubtedly one of America’s most divisive presidents, having been one of the few to be impeached. He was also an accomplished lawyer before becoming a politician. He graduated from Duke University Law School in 1937 and practiced law in California. Despite being a highly accomplished lawyer, he is best known for being the only president to resign.

10. Barack Obama

President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Barack Obama is an African-American politician and lawyer who served as the 44th President of the United States. He is the only President of the United States of African descent. In 1991, he received a Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School. Following that, he went to Chicago and worked as a civil rights lawyer. This finally led to a successful political career.

These are only a few of the most well-known lawyers in American history. Although there is a close link between the legal and political fields, the legal area is large, and there are many distinct types of attorneys.

11. Marcia Clark

Marcia Rachel Clark is an American prosecutor, author, and television producer. She is known for being the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder case. She was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1979. She worked as a public defender for the city of Los Angeles before she became a prosecutor in 1981.

Her highest-profile prosecution was in 1991 when she prosecuted Robert John Bardo for the murder of television star Rebecca Schaeffer.

12. Gloria Allred

Gloria Allred, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Gloria Rachel Allred is an American attorney known for taking high-profile and controversial cases. Over the course of her career, she has represented a wide variety of clients in civil rights suits that have involved sexual harassment, wrongful termination, employment discrimination, and women’s rights.

Allred has represented many clients in suits against celebrities including Tommy Lee, Scott Lee Cohen, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Weiner, and R. Kelly.

13. Mark Geragos

Mark John Geragos is an American criminal defense lawyer and the managing partner of Geragos & Geragos in Los Angeles. He is known for being one of the lead answers in two groundbreaking federal class action lawsuits against New York Life Insurance and AXA. The two cases settled for over $37.5 million.

Geragos is known for representing notable clients including Scott Peterson, Lee Tamahori, Gary Condit, Clare Bronfman, Winona Ryder, Michael Jackson, and Greg Anderson.

Read more about famous lawyers here.

14. Hillary Clinton

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American politician and diplomat who served as the 67th United States Secretary of State. She joined the Rose Law Firm in 1977 and was the first female associate at the firm. She specialized in intellectual property law, and patent infringement. In the same year, she co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.

15. Shawn Holley

Shawn Katherine Chapman Holley is an American defense attorney. She began her career in the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office where she worked for five years. She is known for being a member of O.J. Simpson’s legal defense team.

Holley is currently a partner at the firm Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump Holley LLP. She joined the firm in 2006 and in 2021, it was renamed to include her name. She is known for representing numerous celebrity clients including Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, Tupac Shakur, and Nicole Richie.

If you’re looking for a lawyer, it’s critical that you choose the correct one for your case. 

Click here to read about famous lawyers from other countries.

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