18 Law Schools That Trained Famous Lawyers

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·12 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

See the law schools that trained influential attorneys.

A law degree often leads to a career in politics or government. Many people apply to law school with the hope that their legal credentials will allow them to become powerful judges or politicians, while others dream of becoming great trial attorneys or appellate litigators who can win contentious legal battles. Aspiring lawyers who dream of shaping public policy or influencing society may want to follow the path of one of the following 18 famous attorneys. Keep reading to find out where these prominent lawyers attended law school.

Floyd Abrams

Law school where he earned his law degree: Yale Law School in Connecticut

U.S. News law school rank: 1

Floyd Abrams -- an appellate attorney who specializes in media law and the First Amendment -- has argued before the Supreme Court many times, and his legal arguments have been integrated into multiple Supreme Court opinions that relate to free speech issues. Abrams is known for his legal arguments in favor of expansive free speech rights and his view that the government ought to have extremely limited authority over regulating speech.

Gloria Allred

Law school where she earned her law degree:Loyola Law School Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University

U.S. News law school rank: 72 (tie)

Long before the #MeToo movement, Gloria Allred gained a national reputation for representing women who accused powerful men of sexual harassment, and she has been nicknamed "master of the press conference." Allred has filed lawsuits against multiple male celebrities accused of sexual misconduct, including Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski.

William Barr

Law school where he earned his law degree:George Washington University Law School in the District of Columbia

U.S. News law school rank: 27 (tie)

Former U.S. attorney general William Pelham Barr led the Trump administration's Department of Justice. It was not his first time in that leadership position. He had served as attorney general during the presidency of George H. W. Bush, and earlier in that administration he was a deputy attorney general. Barr oversaw the investigation into the Pan Am 103 airplane bombing, a terrorist attack in the late 1980s, and he also led the DOJ response to the national savings and loan crisis, a financial collapse that cost U.S. taxpayers $132 billion.

Joe Biden

Law school where he earned his law degree:Syracuse University College of Law in New York

U.S. News law school rank: 102 (tie)

Since his presidential inauguration, Biden has ushered in some major federal policy changes, including the reentry of the U.S. into the international Paris Agreement regarding environmental pollution reduction. He signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was designed to reinvigorate the U.S. economy and repair the financial damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. Before becoming U.S. president, Biden spent more than 36 years in the U.S. Senate, followed by an eight-year term as vice president in the Obama Administration.

Clarence Darrow

Law school that he attended without receiving a formal degree:University of Michigan--Ann Arbor Law School

U.S. News law school rank: 10 (tie)

An eloquent trial lawyer and American Civil Liberties Union member, Clarence Darrow delivered poetic courtroom speeches that made him famous in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, and his life inspired the hit Hollywood film "Inherit the Wind." Darrow was one of the nation's first labor lawyers and represented prominent union leaders in legal disputes. He also was an accomplished criminal defense attorney. Later, Darrow garnered national attention when he defended a schoolteacher who taught evolution despite a state prohibition in a famous case about the separation of church and state that became known as the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Law school where she earned her law degree: Columbia Law School in New York

U.S. News law school rank: 4 (tie)

Before becoming an iconic judge, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a legal champion of various liberal causes. She co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU and served as the organization's general counsel for many years. During her tenure at the ACLU, Ginsburg filed numerous gender discrimination lawsuits, including six cases that she argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. She won five of them.

Keith Harper

Law school where he earned his law degree: New York University School of Law

U.S. News law school rank: 6 (tie)

During the Obama administration, Keith Harper became the first Native American appointed to serve as a U.S. ambassador. He represented the U.S. at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Switzerland. Harper is now chair of the Native American law practice at Jenner & Block LLP, a corporate law firm, and has a long track record of winning lawsuits on behalf of Native American individuals and tribes. He represented Native American plaintiffs in a class action trust fund lawsuit, Cobell v. Salazar, which ultimately settled for $3.4 billion, the largest settlement of a lawsuit against the federal government in U.S. history.

Kamala Harris

Law school where she earned her law degree:University of California--Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco

U.S. News law school rank: 50 (tie)

Before her inauguration as vice president, Harris was a U.S. senator representing California. Prior to her election to the Senate, Harris was California's attorney general, and in that capacity she successfully sued the now-shuttered for-profit Corinthian Colleges for false advertising and other offenses. She also secured a $20 billion settlement for homeowners affected by the subprime mortgage crisis. Harris has significant experience as a prosecutor and once served as San Francisco's district attorney.

Kevin Hasson

Law school where he earned his law degree: University of Notre Dame Law School in Indiana

U.S. News law school rank: 22 (tie)

Kevin J. "Seamus" Hasson is the founder and president emeritus of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a law firm that focuses on religious freedom issues. The firm regularly argues before the Supreme Court and has won a number of high-profile cases there, such as Holt v. Hobbs. In that case, justices reached a unanimous verdict in favor of a Muslim prison inmate whose prison had prohibited him from growing a beard for religious reasons. The Becket Fund more recently represented the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order of nuns who wanted a religious exemption from the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employers include contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans. The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in the nuns' favor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Law school where he earned his law degree: Harvard Law School in Massachusetts

U.S. News law school rank: 3

The son of a great American poet, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was known for his lyrical legal opinions, many of which focused on free speech rights, and he was nicknamed "The Great Dissenter." He developed the "clear and present danger" test for determining whether the government can restrict speech without violating the First Amendment, arguing that the government may only restrict speech that poses an imminent threat to public welfare.

John Marshall

Law school he attended without earning a formal degree:William & Mary Law School in Virginia

U.S. News law school rank: 35 (tie)

Before becoming a U.S. Supreme Court chief justice and arguably the most influential jurist in U.S. history, John Marshall read law at the College of William and Mary. During his lifetime -- the mid-18th to early 19th century -- it was common for aspiring lawyers to study law without obtaining an academic degree in law. Marshall wrote the Marbury v. Madison Supreme Court decision, which created a legal precedent for the idea that the judicial branch of U.S. government can serve as a check on both executive and legislative authority through judicial review. His legacy lives on whenever a U.S. court strikes down laws that it deems to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Thurgood Marshall

Law school where he earned his law degree: Howard University School of Law in the District of Columbia

U.S. News law school rank: 91 (tie)

Thurgood Marshall was an accomplished appellate attorney best known for legally challenging racially discriminatory public policies. As counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Marshall won the groundbreaking Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which eventually led to the desegregation of U.S. public schools. He was subsequently appointed to be a U.S. solicitor general, representing the federal government before the Supreme Court. Later, he became the first African American Supreme Court justice.

Mitch McConnell

Law school where he earned his law degree: University of Kentucky's J. David Rosenberg College of Law

U.S. News law school rank: 81 (tie)

As the current minority leader and a former majority leader in the U.S. Senate, McConnell is an influential figure within the Republican party. During his 36 years in the U.S. Senate, McConnell has consistently supported the confirmation of conservative federal judges, including Supreme Court justices with a right-leaning judicial philosophy. He has repeatedly sought cuts to the federal budget, attempted to reduce government spending and expressed concern about the national debt.

Mike Moore

Law school where he earned his law degree: University of Mississippi School of Law

U.S. News law school rank: 98 (tie)

As the former attorney general of the state of Mississippi, Moore was the first U.S. state attorney general to sue tobacco companies for causing harm to public health. He helped lead negotiations between tobacco companies and multiple U.S. states for one of the largest settlements in U.S. history: the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, a multibillion-dollar settlement that tobacco companies are obligated to pay in perpetuity. More recently, he has organized national litigation against for-profit firms in the health care sector that manufacture or distribute opioids, including pharmaceutical companies.

Robert Mueller

Law school where he earned his law degree: University of Virginia School of Law

U.S. News law school rank: 8

Robert Swan Mueller III was the special counsel for a Department of Justice probe concerning allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. His team of investigators ended up indicting more than 30 people, and he published a report -- formally known as the "Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election" -- laying out his team's findings in March 2019. He served as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for over a decade and led several significant FBI counterterrorism investigations, including the inquiry concerning the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Sandra Day O'Connor

Law school where she earned her law degree: Stanford Law School in California

U.S. News law school rank: 2

Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman appointed to be a U.S. Supreme Court justice. As a moderate conservative, O'Connor often provided the decisive swing vote in Supreme Court cases about hot-button political issues ranging from abortion to affirmative action to the Bush v. Gore presidential election recount dispute. After she retired from her role as a justice, O'Connor launched iCivics, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that focuses on improving civic education and teaching lessons about government and democracy.

Barry Scheck

Law school where he earned his law degree: University of California--Berkeley School of Law

U.S. News law school rank: 9

Barry Scheck is a co-founder and special counsel with the Innocence Project, a nonprofit that helps wrongfully convicted prisoners prove their innocence and gain their freedom. He famously was part of the "dream team" that defended O.J. Simpson in his murder trial, a legal team that included legendary defense lawyers Alan Dershowitz and Johnnie Cochran.

Elizabeth Warren

Law school where she earned her law degree: Rutgers Law School in New Jersey

U.S. News law school rank: 91 (tie)

Before she was elected to the U.S. Senate, Elizabeth Warren gained national prominence as a consumer advocate. She proposed creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency that monitors whether businesses are compliant with federal consumer protection laws. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, Warren advocated for tough penalties for Wall Street firms that had contributed to the financial crisis. During that period, Time magazine described her as the "New Sheriff of Wall Street."

Find law schools that lead to solid job prospects.

If you know what type of lawyer you want to become and are trying to identify the right law school to help you pursue that calling, it's important to find a school that offers relevant coursework and a track record of placing graduates in the type of field you desire. Regardless of what type of law interests you -- whether it is corporate law, environmental law or something else -- U.S. News articles offer guidance on finding the right J.D. program to seek a career in that field. Look up employment figures in the U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings to get a sense of how well law schools prepare students for the working world. Follow U.S. News Education on Twitter and Facebook for more information about law schools.

See where famous lawyers attended law school.

-- Floyd Abrams earned his law degree from Yale Law School.

-- Gloria Allred earned her law degree from Loyola Law School Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University.

-- William Barr earned his law degree from George Washington University Law School.

-- Joe Biden earned his law degree from Syracuse University College of Law.

-- Clarence Darrow attended University of Michigan--Ann Arbor Law School but did not earn a law degree.

-- Ruth Bader Ginsburg started her legal education at Harvard Law School but earned her law degree from Columbia Law School.

-- Keith Harper earned his law degree from New York University School of Law.

-- Kamala Harris earned her law degree from University of California--Hastings College of the Law.

-- Kevin Hasson earned his law degree from University of Notre Dame Law School.

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. earned his law degree from Harvard Law School.

-- John Marshall attended William & Mary Law School but did not earn a law degree.

-- Thurgood Marshall earned his law degree from Howard University School of Law.

-- Mitch McConnell earned his law degree from University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law.

-- Mike Moore earned his law degree from University of Mississippi School of Law.

-- Robert Mueller earned his law degree from University of Virginia School of Law.

-- Sandra Day O'Connor earned her law degree from Stanford Law School.

-- Barry Scheck earned his law degree from University of California--Berkeley School of Law.

-- Elizabeth Warren earned her law degree from Rutgers Law School.