The most famous lawyers in history are only capable of one of two things- kickin’ ass or pushing paper.
AND PETERSON LAW OFFICES JUST WENT PAPERLESS!
Admittedly, my kickin’ ass is muted to appropriate levels of aggression, or lack thereof, in order to assimilate with the tranquility of modern society. I’m a little more kick ass than this puppy:
Adopt an Adorable Puppy Here At the Pixie Project
I prefer sunday brunch at Screen Door, the crisp bite of my Dr. Kombucha probiotics, and an afternoon soak in Kennedy School soaking pools over knockin’ heads. Add in a double scoop of Salt and Straw and I think you have a pretty kick ass day going.
The life of a lawyer hasn’t always been Random Order Pie and Jimmy Johns deliveries. You can write all the laws you want but they are nothing without enforcers and protectors.
I wrote a law the other day:
Submission for SECTION 1.20.2004
- One must not get sucked into Orange is the New Black.
Portland Law Journal Review OFFICIAL RESPONSE:
Dear Mr. Myrick,
Your submission for the amendment to SECTION 1.20.2004 has been rejected. It is the view of the board that this law is completely unenforceable. No one can stop watching this show.
P.S. Red is our favorite character.
Portland Law Journal Review
Submission for SECTION 1.20.2004 denied. [ Disclaimer: satirical submission, infra.)
Here is a top 5 list of famous lawyers in history that were a little more kickass.
5. Gerry Spence
Gerry Spence is a law man from Wyoming who has never lost a case. Well he lost one in Newport, Oregon in 1985 but later appealed… and won. Dude is a straight talking, sharp thinking, trial slaying cowboy. He started as a defense attorney for insurance companies until presumably one day he just decided… I am the one who knocks.
Insurance companies have been shaking in their boots ever since.
The indubitable Mr. Spence represented Karen Silkwood, a whistleblower against the inhumane safety conditions at a plutonium production plant where she worked. Ms. Silkwood was killed in a car crash under suspicious circumstances. Mr. Spence netted 10.5 million for the Silkwood family and a movie was made about the incident.
I telegraphed Mr. Spence to ask if he uses an umbrella or if he walks in between raindrops when he makes it rain. I have not yet received a response.
4. Fatou Bensouda
What if I told you one of the worlds most influential lawyers in the world was from a country that has 0.00 % of the worlds shared gross domestic product? What if I went further and said this lawyer was a woman in a male dominated field. What if I told you that Fatou Bensouda has been kickin’ ass and taking names as the Chief Prosecutor of International Criminal Court since 2012.
Ms. Bensouda has been tasked with rounding up the world’s bullies and trying them for war crimes. On October 8th, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was charged with killing 1,200 people and forcing 600,000 people from their homes in a politically motivated post-election massacre.
Mr. Kenyatta has pushed back with his own media firestorm calling the International Criminal Court anti-African. He’s worried, keep it 100 Ms. Bensouda.
3. Clarence Seward Darrow
Come with me, and you’ll be, in a world of pure imagination. Imagine a man. An old school law man. A man so cool his man cave probably looked like Multnomah Whiskey Library. I’m talking about Mr. Clarence Seward Darrow. Mr. Darrow is most well known for his role in the Scopes Monkey trial, the famous trial about a teacher who was accused of violating the state of Tennessee’s Butler act. The Butler Act prohibited teachers from denying the biblical account of the origin of man.
Instead of defending his client, Mr. Scopes. Mr. Darrow decided to use the trial to pontificate on the debate between science and religion and ridicule the judge for being a biased bigot and an indubious ignoramus. The court never addressed any factual evidence on whether or not Mr. Scopes actually ever taught evolution. The defense never submitted closing arguments. Mr. Darrow merely stated that the court would not allow any relevant testimony and that the jury should not come to a not guilty verdict as there was no logical basis for making conclusions without evidence…
Gold star Mr. Darrow. Gold star.
2. Abraham Lincoln
When I was a kid I thought Johnny Appleseed and Abraham Lincoln were the same person. I simply thought that from the age of 18-29 Mr. Lincoln was spreading the growth of American agriculture. Setting the stage for the America he would shepherd through the storms of winter only to see the bountiful harvest of spring.
It turns out Mr. Lincoln was pushing a different kind of paper. Lincoln was known for his oratory style which emphasized simplification over factual evidence. Apparently he went down as smooth as an Old Fashioned at Circa 33. I’m imagining Don Draper and Abraham Lincoln sitting on a porch discussing the death of the American pastoral. Swoon.
The case that made Lincoln’s legacy was the “Almanac Trial”.
Let’s set the stage. There once was a mountain of a man by the name of James Metzger. He’d drink and get mean. One day he had one too many Obsidian Stouts 1 with his drinking buddies William “Duff” Armstrong and James Norris. After a passionate argument of which the contents remain unknown, 2 Mr. Metzger practiced his goliath rage on the bodies of Armstrong and Norris. Mr. Norris was not pleased. He did his best david and grabbed a slung shot. Mr. Norris and Mr. Armstrong then savagely beat Mr. Metzger. Suffering severe head injuries Mr. Metzger died two days later.
Abraham Lincoln had this annoying habit of only providing defense for those he thought were not guilty. Mr. Norris and Mr. Armstrong were clearly guilty. Everyone at the tavern saw the incident. However, the Armstrongs were old family friends of Mr. Lincoln. So Lincoln took the case. He focused on one seemingly innocuous statement of the prosecution.
The witnesses could clearly see the defendants in the dark night of a less illuminated time as courtesy provided by the luminescence of a full moon. 3
Mr. Lincoln was like… oh no you don’t. Every morning I start my day with two logs on the fire and a copy of Jaynes Almanac. The Almanac states that on August 29, 1857 the moon had been “…low on the horizon” thus not allowing for the ample light necessary to establish the reliability of the witnesses’ testimony. Lincoln won, dropped the mic, and went home. 4
1. Barack Obama
Barack Obama’s law career was brief and unremarkable. His career reads like a victorian novel about a prince who learned what work was so that he would know what the word meant in speeches and photo ops with private citizens. He worked mainly in defending non-profits against minor lawsuits.
One might ask… How can Barack Hussein Obama be the number one kickass lawyer on this list?
The answer lies in the practice of law itself. Lawyers need influence to have power. Hopefully to do what is right.
Barack Obama’s law career was short because he was a shooting star from the beginning. 5 His aspirations were more Interstellar than putting his name on the front door. Like Lebron James, he was ready for the big time immediately. He was never going to push the paper he was going to govern its direction.
Despite how you feel about the hope and posterity of the Obama presidency, there is no doubt that Obama has altered the judicial landscape of the United States. While red and blue americans squabble over partisan politics, under the wire Barack Obama has appointed 280 judges around the country. 6 Judges who will continue the Obama Legacy long after he leaves office.
These judges represent the melting pot of America better than any other time in the history of the United States.
“I think there are some particular groups that historically have been underrepresented—like Latinos and Asian-Americans—that represent a larger and larger portion of the population. So, for them to be able to see folks in robes that look like them is going to be important. When I came into office, I think there was one openly gay judge who had been appointed. We’ve appointed ten.” – Barack Obama
Equality on the largest scale possible. That is pretty kick ass Mr. Obama.
Bonus: Saul Goodman
Saul Goodman is my favorite lawyer. Mostly because of the hilarity of this website and the fact that his name is a dad joke: S’all Good Man. He isn’t included in this list because technically he’s not a real person. However, he’s pretty much an every lawyer to me.
Saul Goodman is an expert in using the contradictions inherent in the practice of law as his own personal justification device. As someone who would like my work to be this easy but nevertheless chips away at the difficulty of establishing liability with ever increasing stinginess of insurance companies, I can’t help but love Saul Goodman.
Who knew that a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of American Samoa could take Mr. Goodman so far.
- Not factually correct. ↩
- Whatever the argument was about, one can assume it was as passionate as The Great Portland Doughnut Debate: Voodoo vs Coco vs Pips vs Blue Star. ↩
- I’m assuming people talked this way in 1857. ↩
- The 1857 version of dropping the mic was probably folding a kickass handkerchief softly and neatly on the judges podium while saying, “God Bless you, my work here is done.”…probably. ↩
- It should be noted his first supervising lawyer was Michelle Obama. ↩
- Source: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/27/obama-brief ↩
What about Nelson Mandela?
Yeah, Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi are notable oversights.
You forgot Ranganathan…his Five Laws of Library Science were some of the most influential library laws in history.
Mandela is a huge oversight. By the way, recently his letters from prison were published, a great read!