TV shows have both glorified and vilified the law profession, leading people to view lawyers either as cheats or as saints. An article by Kimberly Cahill says that collectively, lawyers have a negative image and are generally disliked. There are, however, many lawyers who have earned a place for themselves in history because of the principles they believed in. Among these are:
- Mahatma Gandhi – Famous for promoting non-violent reform, Gandhi first worked as a legal representative in Pretoria, South Africa. While in Africa, he developed the political views, ethics, and leadership skills that would prove instrumental in his fight against the caste system. Gandhi also fought for the right of suffrage for Indian nationals in South Africa.
- Nelson Mandela – Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela is best known for his role in helping end apartheid in South Africa. Mandela opened his law practice in Johannesburg in 1952. Throughout the 50s and 60s, he campaigned long and hard for equal rights, not pausing even when sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964. His efforts to abolish racial discrimination and segregation finally bore fruit in the early 1990s under the administration of then-President F.W. de Klerk. From 1994 to 1999, Mandela served as the first black president of South Africa.
- Abraham Lincoln – A careful, logical thinker, Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, is said to have taught himself law by reading books. A trial and appellate lawyer for twenty-three years, he was known for his skill in tripping up witnesses during cross-examination. Lincoln is best known for contributing significantly towards the abolition of slavery in the United States.
Lawyers aren’t always seen in the best light, but many have made a remarkable impact on society and the world as a whole.