Need a lift? Let these legal titans fuel your dreams
Some lawyers manage to achieve great things, both inside and outside the profession. Take a look at our list of inspirational lawyers and hopefully feel the stirrings that you too, could one day join them.
1) Mary Robinson
This woman is a power house. First female president of Ireland, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, long standing campaigner for social justice… To be honest it could make one feel a bit inadequate.
Trained as a barrister, she smacked down accusations that she was acting outside her role as Irish president by reminding her critics that she was, in fact, a constitutional lawyer. Now that is a trump card.
2) Mahatma Gandhi
Could you be better than Gandhi? It might just be possible: Gandhi’s first law practice in Bombay failed as he was too shy to speak up in court. Perhaps being a loud-mouthed litigator does have its advantages, beyond being served first in the pub.
Had Gandhi been born a hundred years later, things might have turned out very different. He trained as a lawyer in London and it is highly doubtful his pacifist values would have withstood the 8am tube to Farringdon.
3) Wonder Woman
That’s right: the lady who inspired the comic book creation graduated with an LLB, going on to lecture on law and ethics, as well as working as a psychologist.
Not only did Elizabeth Holloway Marston balance a high flying career with bringing up a family, she invented an early type of lie detector test. A classic overachiever, but what did you expect.
4) Lewis Gordon Pugh
Before you Google the name, you might want to pause. Most searches will return a photo of a buff South African posing in his Speedos (above): perhaps not the thing to be looking at in the office.
So why is this maritime lawyer prancing about in his budgie smugglers? He calls himself an ‘ocean advocate’, using his legal training and a series of high profile swimming stunts to raise awareness of climate change and environmental issues. Most notably, he swam a kilometre at the North Pole to draw attention to melting Arctic sea ice, in water a couple of degrees below freezing.
It’s commendable stuff, if you can excuse the Speedos.
5) Nelson Mandela
Madiba himself was one of us, a fellow lawyer. Completing his legal studies through distance learning (he left university without obtaining a degree), he ran a successful human rights practice in Johannesburg before representing himself at the trial which finally saw him imprisoned.
Next time someone claims lawyers are all money-grabbing b******s, remind them who you share a profession with.
6) John Cleese
OK, so he never practised as a lawyer, but he did get a law degree at Cambridge before fame beckoned.
Watch the dead parrot sketch with new eyes, as you consider its roots in the Sale of Goods Act 1979.
7) Atticus Finch
We know, we know, he’s fictional – but what a guy. The morally upstanding hero in To Kill A Mocking Bird was a pillar of the community, fighting for the underdog and always managing to do the right thing. He was scrupulously honest and acted with utmost integrity.
Rumour has it, when writing the latest Code of Conduct, the good folks at the SRA simply asked themselves: ‘What would Atticus do?’
8) John Grisham
Law is full of juicy stories, and this man has used them to build a multimillion dollar career. He started writing in his spare time while working as a lawyer and the inspiration for his first novel came from overhearing a conversation at a court house.
If he can get away with a book called ‘The King of Torts’ (yes, really), surely you could have a go. The world is just waiting for your epic novel, ‘Pride and Without Prejudice’.
If this list hasn’t inspired you yet, this one has got to work.
Chunk from the Goonies, AKA Jeff Cohen, now works as a successful entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles. We only hope he cracks out the Truffle Shuffle at the office Christmas parties. LM