Earlier this week, Time magazine released the Time 100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. This year, the same number of lawyers are present on the list as in last year’s legion of law lovers, and many of them are considered household names.
Although lawyers represent 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, television journalists, and arbiters of athletic fairness.
So which legal eagles soared into the Time 100, and were there any repeat honorees? Let’s find out…
Here are the 14 lawyers we noticed, in alphabetical order. 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 any person who holds a law degree, without regard to current or past bar admissions or whether they actually practice law (or ever did practice).
Each honoree’s name is linked to their Time 100 write-up. If we happened to miss anyone, let us know.
1. Jerry Brown: California’s governor is a 1964 graduate of Yale Law School who previously served as his state’s Attorney General from 2007-2011. He’s praised in his write-up for his restraint in spending — he eliminated a $26 billion deficit. Here’s a quick fun fact about Brown: he’s one of the youngest and oldest California governors in the history of the state.
2. Ertharin Cousin: Armed with a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law, Cousin went on to become “a Chicagoan who helps feed the world.” After previous service in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and several years in Washington, D.C., Cousin now serves as the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme.
3. Hillary Clinton: America wants to know whether our nation’s 67th Secretary of State can be president and a grandma at the same time. To be frank, that’s quite dumb, because we all know graduates of Yale Law can do anything they want. “A world with more women leaders will be a better world,” says Malala Yousafzai, and she couldn’t be more right.
4. Kirsten Gillibrand: Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) is a graduate of UCLA Law. She’s an alumnus of Davis Polk and Boies Schiller, and once clerked for Judge Roger Miner of the Second Circuit. In fact, one of her co-clerks once referred to her as “Chuck Schumer’s lap dog.” Ouch. Gillibrand has been suggested as a possible Democratic candidate for the 2016 Presidential election.
5. Eric Holder: The 82nd Attorney General of the United States is actually being honored by the Time 100 for his work as a lawyer. He earned his J.D. from Columbia Law, and has worked in almost all areas of the law, from a Biglaw firm (Covington & Burling) to a judgeship (D.C. Superior Court). Fun fact: Holder is the only cabinet member to ever be held in contempt of Congress. Thanks Fast and Furious.
6. Xi Jinping: A repeat honoree, Jinping is the president of China. He is a graduate of Tsinghua University, where he received his LL.D. Jinping’s Time 100 write-up, by Jon Huntsman, former U.S. ambassador to China, notes that Jinping’s successful leadership could “become America’s greatest challenge and opportunity of the 21st century.”
7. Megyn Kelly: A graduate of Albany Law School, Kelly worked as an associate in the Chicago office of Bickel & Brewer before joining Jones Day. She now has her own show on Fox News called The Kelly File, and received mass media attention for this quip made during coverage of the 2012 election when Karl Rove refused to call the election for Obama: “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better? Or is this real?” Fun fact: Megyn Kelly is a member of my sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta.
Keep reading, because the people on the next page are some of the most powerful of them all…