5 Famous Lawyers You Haven’t Heard Of

by mariechan on February 11, 2013

The Golden Gavel - Famous Lawyers

Famous people with law degrees are a dime a dozen. It turns out that most Presidents of the United States, many other politicians and quite a few unexpected celebrities have suffered the rigors of law school and managed to pass the bar exam, albeit some of them had to try several times!

This isn’t an article about them. Instead, this is a list of five famous lawyers in recent memory who actually practiced law. Some of the names won’t be familiar to anyone outside the profession, but all of them are renowned for the cases they worked on, their skill as litigants and their dedication to clients.

Christopher Darden

His name might not be familiar, but many Americans would quickly recognize his face. Darden was an award-winning deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County a total of 15 years. During this time, he prosecuted a total of 27 murder trials, including his service as co-counsel during the O.J. Simpson trial.

Darden has appeared as a guest commentator on nearly every major television talk and news show. He is now a criminal defense attorney in California. He is a popular lawyer in certain circles with the defense and prosecution of over 1000 marijuana cases under his belt!

Jan Schlichtmann

If you’ve been poisoned or injured due to pollution or some other form of corporate negligence, this is one attorney you certainly want on your side. Jan Schlichtmann is a toxic torts and consumer protection attorney who was portrayed by John Travolta in the movie A Civil Action. He is currently engaged in a case against a large debt collection agency, but his primary field is environmental law.

Sarah Weddington

After playing a pivotal role in one of America’s longest standing divisions, Sarah Weddington went on to serve three terms as a representative in the state of Texas. This popular lecturer was an assistant to Jimmy Carter and the first woman to serve as general counsel for the USDA. Sarah got her start by successfully representing Jane Roe in the landmark Roe v. Wade.

Shawn Holley Chapman

Like Darden, Chapman got her start working in the Los Angeles county criminal courts. However, she worked as a public defender. She has taken over 60 criminal and civil cases to litigation, including her role on the O.J. defense team. She has represented Axl Rose, Michael Jackson, and Black Panther leader Geronimo Pratt. Chapman is a popular legal analyst on national television.

Morgan Chu

This winner of the UCLA Medal and the Chambers Award for Excellence remains unknown to most Americans, but his work has certainly affected the world. Morgan Chu received advanced degrees from Yale, Harvard and UCLA before making his name as an intellectual property lawyer. He is an opponent of the death penalty and serves as a board member for the world’s largest pro bono law firm.

Whether it’s securing $1 billion verdicts large corporations, prosecuting murderers or defending the poor, these lawyers are among the best litigators in the world. Most aren’t celebrities by any stretch of the imagination, but each has changed the practice of law.

Sylvia Rowe writes for law blogs. Interested in advancing your law career? You may want to consider pursing an llm degree.




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