Barack Obama, Christopher Christie, Elena Kagan, Joe Biden, Media and Journalism, Rankings

The Most Influential Lawyers in the World: Meet the Attorneys on the Time 100

Late last week, Time magazine released the Time 100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. This year, even more lawyers were present on the list than in last year’s troop, and many of them are considered household names.

Although lawyers now represent about 14 percent of this list, only a handful of them were recognized for their work in the legal profession. Some of the representative career alternatives for attorneys on this list include leaders of the free world, fashion icons, and arbiters of athletic fairness.

So which legal eagles soared into the Time 100, and were there any repeat honorees? Let’s find out….

We pored over the Time 100 and identified fourteen individuals who are lawyers. As we did last year, we took a broad definition of the term “lawyer,” which Black’s Law Dictionary defines as “a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law.” We picked out people who hold a law degree, without regard to bar admissions or whether they actually practice law (or ever did).

Here are the fourteen lawyers we noticed, in alphabetical order, with a brief blurb about each one. Each honoree’s name is linked to their Time 100 write-up. If we happened to miss anyone, please email us or let us know in the comments, and we will update this post.

1. Joaquim Barbosa

A man of humble origins, Barbosa, 58, is the first black president of the Supreme Federal Court in Brazil. He studied law at the University of Brasília and the Pantheon-Assas University in France. He’s served as an adjunct professor at Rio de Janeiro State University, and spent time as a visiting scholar at both Columbia Law School and UCLA School of Law. Here’s a fun fact for you about this honorable Brazilian jurist: in 2013, his face was on the most popular Carnival mask.

2. Joe Biden

Our nation’s 47th vice president received high praise from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the pages of Time, despite the fact their political views are diametrically opposed. The 70-year-old Biden studied law at Syracuse University (where he was subject to a plagiarism scandal), but later passed the bar and became the sixth-youngest senator in U.S. history. Cantor credits Biden’s most impressive accomplishment as his “ability to build bridges, bring people together and get things done,” but we think he’s got a pretty great sense of humor, as was evidenced in the 2012 vice presidential debate.

3. Palaniappan Chidambaram

Chidambaram, 67, is a straight-laced man who currently serves as India’s Finance Minister. Although he made the Time 100 for his financial acumen, he’s also a knowledgeable corporate lawyer who studied at Madras Law College, and went on to receive his MBA from Harvard Business School.

4. Chris Christie

If you’re in the mood for a good cry today, go ahead and read the Time 100 write-up for the governor of New Jersey. It was written by a fourth-grader who wanted to thank Christie for helping his family in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Aside from being a dashing do-gooder, Christie, 50, is a graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law who once served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey (where he was Lat’s boss). Some think Christie is looking good for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, but others are concerned about his weight. Lay off the man, he’s Jersey Strong!

5. Vrinda Grover

Grover, 49, is an Indian human rights lawyer with a prominent focus on women’s rights. She studied law at Delhi University and NYU School of Law, and serves as a trustee at the Centre for Social Justice. She is working tirelessly to advocate for reform in India’s rape laws, and even though a more stringent law was recently passed, she thinks more needs to be done to safeguard women.

6. Kamala Harris

Harris, 48, is a graduate of the UC Hastings College of Law. Not only is she the Attorney General of California, but according to the president of the United States, she’s “the best-looking attorney general in the country.” As the first African-American and Asian-American woman to be elected to her position, she’s already broken many barriers — in fact, her name has been mentioned several times as a possible nominee to the Supreme Court should a seat become available.

7. Valerie Jarrett

Jarrett, a 56-year-old senior adviser to the president, has maintained a spectacular record of accomplishment through her career. Born in Iran, she moved to the U.S. with her family when she was a child, and went on to study at Stanford and Michigan, where she received her juris doctor. Here’s a fun fact for you about this stateswoman: Jarrett once hired Michelle Obama for a job while the First Lady was still engaged to the president, and that’s why the three get along so well.

Keep reading, because the people on the next page are some of the most powerful of them all….

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