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 fight and 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 famous attorneys. Keep reading to find out where 15 prominent lawyers attended law school.
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 when it comes to regulating speech.
Law school where she earned her law degree: Loyola Law School Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University
U.S. News law school rank: 62 (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 the "master of the press conference." Allred has filed lawsuits against multiple male celebrities accused of sexual misconduct, including Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski.
Law school where he earned his law degree: George Washington University Law School in the District of Columbia
U.S. News law school rank: 22
As the current U.S. attorney general, William Pelham Barr leads the Trump administration's Department of Justice. This is not his first time in this leadership position. He previously 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.
Law school that he attended without receiving a formal degree: University of Michigan--Ann Arbor Law School
U.S. News law school rank: 9
An eloquent trial lawyer and American Civil Liberties Union member, Clarence Darrow delivered poetic courtroom speeches which made him famous in the mid-19th and early 20th century, and his life inspired the hit Hollywood film "Inherit the Wind." Darrow was one of the nation's first labor lawyers, and he 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: 5
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.
Law school where he earned his law degree: New York University School of Law
U.S. News law school rank: 6
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 a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP 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.
Law school where he earned his law degree: University of Notre Dame Law School in Indiana
U.S. News law school rank: 21
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 devout Muslim prison inmate whose prison had prohibited him from growing a beard for religious reasons. More recently, the Becket Fund 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 during a Supreme Court case where the high 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 which poses an imminent threat to public welfare.
Law school he attended without earning a formal degree: William & Mary Law School in Virginia
U.S. News law school rank: 39 (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.
Law school where he earned his law degree: Howard University School of Law in the District of Columbia
U.S. News law school rank: 108 (tie)
Thurgood Marshall was an accomplished appellate attorney who is 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.
Law school where he earned his law degree: University of Mississippi School of Law
U.S. News law school rank: 108 (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. He is currently organizing national litigation against opioid pharmaceutical companies.
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, until recently, the special counsel for a Department of Justice probe concerning allegations of Russian interference into 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 September 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.
Law school where he earned his law degree: University of California--Berkeley School of Law
U.S. News law school rank: 10 (tie)
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.
Law school where she earned her law degree: Rutgers Law School in New Jersey
U.S. News law school rank: 77 (tie)
Before she was elected to the U.S. Senate and began her run for the Democratic presidential nomination, Elizabeth Warren gained national prominence as a consumer advocate. She originally proposed the 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 or environmental law -- 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.
-- 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.
-- 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.
-- 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.