Almost everyone who steps foot inside a law school in pursuit of a degree dreams of someday becoming a powerful voice on the world stage, but only a few are able to see that goal through to fruition. In fact, according to the latest Forbes ranking of the World’s Most Powerful People, only 10 lawyers or law school graduates truly matter.
Each year, Forbes compiles a list of the most influential people on the planet, and this year, out of the 72 leaders chosen (one “power broker” per every 100 million people in the world), about 14 percent of those who made the list are lawyers or law school graduates.
Which legal eagles soared to great heights and made their way onto this year’s list? Let’s find out…
Mere mortals of the legal realm wish they could be one of the most powerful human beings on Earth, but only the best of lawyers were able to do so. Here’s how Forbes describes this most awesome list:
The Most Powerful People in the World list is an annual snapshot of the heads of state, CEOs and financiers, philanthropists and NGO chiefs, billionaires, and entrepreneurs who truly rule the world. It represents the collective wisdom of top FORBES editors, who consider hundreds of nominees before ranking the planet’s top 72 power-brokers – one for every 100 million people on Earth — based on their scope of influence and their financial resources relative to their peers.
We pored over the list of 72 world leaders and identified 10 individuals who are lawyers, taking 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 10 lawyers we noticed, in descending order, with a brief blurb about each one. Each honoree’s name is linked to their Forbes Most Powerful write-up. If we happened to miss anyone, please email us or let us know in the comments, and we will update this post.
63. Alisher Usmanov: He received a degree in international law at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He’s the richest man in all of Russia for his work with iron and steel, as well as one of the richest men in the world, and he’s never practiced law a day in his life. Figures.
62. John Roberts: The Chief Justice of the United States attended Harvard Law School, and is slightly less powerful than he was last year (formerly #59 on this list). He’s had a hand in moving the high court in a more conservative direction, and the world is watching to see what happens during this year’s term.
53. Dmitry Medvedev: Russia’s Prime Minister (and former president) studied law at Leningrad State University (now known as Saint Petersburg State University). He was slightly less powerful last year, coming in at #61, but perhaps his new oversight of the country’s laws has to do with his rising fame.
43. Bill Clinton: A Yale Law graduate, this two-term president known for being impeached by the House for his affair with Monica Lewinsky now spends his time doing public speaking engagements for philanthropic ventures. If his wife runs for president in 2016, we imagine he’ll become even more powerful.
37. Enrique Pena Nieto: Ay dios mio, this man is good looking! After studying law at the Universidad Panamericana, Nieto went on to become the president of Mexico. While he’d like to fix the country’s drug problems (good luck with that, buddy), he’s settling for fixing its broken tax system instead.
35. Christine Lagarde: The only woman on the list of lawyers, Lagarde graduated from Paris West University Nanterre La Défense with degrees in English, labor law, and social law. She was the first-ever woman to serve as chair at Baker & McKenzie, and now she runs the IMF. Get it, girl!
27. Lloyd Blankfein: He graduated from Harvard Law School, and now he’s rolling around in money as the CEO of Goldman Sachs. Previously, he rolled around in money working at Proskauer Rose, and later Donovan Leisure. If there ever was a man to receive a million dollar law degree, it’s this guy.
14. Li Keqiang: After studying law at Peking University, he later went on to become the Prime Minister of China. Forbes notes that while he’s loyal to the communist party, he’s “been credited with economic liberalism,” promising economic reforms that the country has never seen before.
2. Barack Obama: This Harvard Law School graduate is currently in his second term as president, and while he’s been under fire for the NSA’s spying and his signature health care law’s epic fail upon roll-out, he’s still in charge of the United States of America. Come on, let’s give this man some credit.
UPDATE (10/31): 1. Vladimir Putin: Russia’s president also studied law at Saint Petersburg State University, where he concentrated in international law. Forbes places him in the number one spot this year because he “frequently shows his strength at home and on the global stage.”
Did we miss any lawyers or law-related honorees on the Forbes ranking of the World’s Most Powerful People? If so, please let us know email us or in the comments.
Congratulations to all the lawyers and law school graduates who made the list. These worthy people stand as living proof that you truly can do anything with a law degree.