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6 Most Famous Lawyers Who Achieved Courtroom Fame


There is something exciting and internally moving about the drama that occurs in a courtroom, or at least that is how pop culture portrays the day-to-day happenings inside the standard court of law. In cold reality, a day in court is typically very monotonous and boring. While many lawyers are competent and good at their jobs, things tend to move smoothly and as expected with very little surprise or any twists to be found.

This is why any form of outlier or figure of interest within the court system tends to get a fair amount of attention by the press or those who enjoy the juiciness of the unexpected. Naturally, many of these outliers come in the form of lawyers who accomplish the impossible, use the law in creative ways to settle their case, or simply leave enough of a charismatic mark on their peers that they become unforgettable.

Here are six most famous lawyers who achieved fame in the courtroom:

1. Joe Jamail

At one point in history, Joe Jamail was the richest attorney in all of the United States, as well as one of the most famous prosecutors to enter a courtroom. This is due to a few factors, namely his prickly and less-than-civil prosecuting style. While that more than likely didn’t make him any friends, he was still successful at his job and became one of the most famous lawyers in history.

For instance, one of his more famous cases was Pennzoil v. Texaco. This case was ruled in Jamail’s favour in a verdict for $10.53 billion in total. No matter what people thought of Jamail, he certainly knew his way around the law.


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2. Barbara Jordan

An African-American lawyer who served as a tool of the law for decades, Barbara Jordan not only upheld the law as best she could, but she also had a large part in further crafting the laws of the United States to be more just and fair for all.

Her big moment, however, came in 1974 when she gave a rousing and historical speech to persuade Americans to seriously support the impeachment of the former president, Richard Nixon. Although in the end, it is safe to say that her biggest accomplishment was making great strides in the struggle to change how African-American women were perceived in the field of law.


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3. Mary Jo White

It’s easy to see a legendary lawyer based upon their achievements. For Mary Jo White, her list of achievements practically dwarfs a vast majority of all other lawyers in history. In order to accomplish so much in one career, she had to be ruthless, fearless, and among the best to ever grace the courts.

Among her victories are the prosecution of John Gotti, the terrorists responsible for the 1983 attack on the World Trade Centre, and the tackling of white collar crime of Wall Street throughout the 1990s. She went after the big leagues in law, and typically came out on top when she did.


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4. Robert Shapiro

It is difficult to discuss the most famous lawyers and not mention at least one member of O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team.” One of the most controversial figures that originated from the trial that nearly stressed Los Angeles, California to it’s breaking point is Robert Shapiro. Along with Simpson’s team of expert lawyers, Shapiro helped secure the freedom of the former football player despite increasingly stacked odds against him.

The co-founder of LegalZoom is still practicing law today, and is still widely known for his defense of Simpson in 1995.


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5. Phil Beck

As a lawyer who was awarded the titles of “Top Defense Verdicts” in 1994 and 1997, as well as being dubbed a “Winning Lawyer” by The National Law Journal in the same years, it’s safe to say that Phil Beck knows what he’s doing in a court of law. However, he became one of the most famous lawyers for his role in stopping a recount of the vote that eventually ended in the inauguration of George W. Bush into the presidency of the United States.

6. John Keker

Recognized as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the United States by the National Law Journal, John Keker has had a few standout moments in his career. Keker has dealt with many cases involving intellectual properties, and even defended the financiers Frank Quattrone and Andrew Fastow during their big scandal.

However, his biggest moment was arguably when he prosecuted Oliver North for his role in the Iran-Contra affair, an event that came exceptionally close to ruining the presidency of American president Ronald Regan.