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The world’s most impressive lawyers

12th May 2015

The world's most impressive lawyers

Sadly the legal profession is still often haunted by unfairly negative connotations. Through media portrayal and a few stories of lawyers who might have entered into the role for perhaps not the right reasons, the role of the lawyer is rarely celebrated as it should be.

It is often forgotten that many students want to progress on to graduate lawyer jobs because they want to see justice done in the world, and their strong work ethic from studying transpires into their working life. Qualities and attributes such as this work ethic produce some truly amazing stories and a lot can be learned from the individuals behind them; here we take a look at some of the world’s most impressive lawyers.

The one that sacrificed his Ferrari

One lawyer who proves that people in the profession take their work seriously is Toronto lawyer Howard Levitt. In 2010, he went above and beyond to make his client’s hearing, abandoning his $200k Ferrari California in the midst of a flood.

En route to a hearing in Ottawa, Levitt was forced to abandon his precious supercar when heavy rain stopped the low-sitting Ferrari in its tracks. Being unable to move the car, Levitt had no choice but to watch as the water rose and, knowing a tow truck wasn’t going to arrive in time, he was forced to leave the car to the elements in order to make the hearing. Despite arriving at the airport and finding all flights had been cancelled, he then made his way to Pearson to catch the last seat of the day on a flight to Ottawa, making his hearing, which he won.

Images of the poor car submerged in water went viral on social media, with one person Tweeting, as reported here, “Ferrari stuck in the #toronto flood! I thought my day was bad”.

You might think that Levitt had earned himself some sort of hero status among car lovers and the general public for his determination, but all he had to say on the matter was “I don’t want to sound cavalier, but at the end of the day you’ve got to see the humour in it and not sweat the small stuff. And it really is all small stuff.” He went on to say, “Nobody’s dying, nobody’s sick. The car gets fixed up and there’s insurance for that. I made it for my case and succeeded on my client’s behalf.”

Ferrari California wheel

The one who believes there are no lost causes

For defence lawyers it certainly isn’t all glory, and civil rights attorney Kathleen Zellner certainly proves that. Now known for taking the cases that other lawyers just don’t want, Zellner shocked the world when she successfully overturned the conviction of Ryan Ferguson, a man who, in 2013, became her 15th wrongfully convicted client to walk free from prison. Ferguson was convicted of second-degree murder, despite no physical evidence connecting him to the crime. After Zellner and her team launched an exhaustive reinvestigation, and spent over a million dollars of her own money on the investigation, Ferguson was found to be not guilty.

As a result of this, and the many other cases Zellner and her team have encountered, they have determined that there are no lost causes.

The one who can laugh at himself

It is no secret that lawyers are sometimes faced with a less than glorified prejudgement, but one lawyer who is trying to alter this view is John S. Keating, who is trying to put an end to lawyers being seen as punchlines, by posting the punchlines. His website has a Lawyer Joke of the Day feature that in his words aims to “show that some lawyers can laugh at themselves”.

Lawyers have a reputation of being incredibly smart, but that does not mean that they cannot see the funny side or, at the very least, laugh at themselves. These lawyer jokes tear down common misconceptions of the profession and show that a lawyer can have a sense of humour, as well as respect for the law.

The one who launched an all-female Saudi Arabia

This next lawyer isn’t just an impressive example of legal work, but also made history after starting the first all-female law firm in Saudi Arabia. Just months after it was legalised for women to serve in court, Bayan Mahmoud Al-Zahran opened the country’s first all-female law firm. Never to be mistaken for a publicity stunt, the action has given Saudi women a space in which they can fight their issues and be represented by a firm that doesn’t just understand, but can fully relate.

Al-Zahran first made headlines as the first licensed female attorney in Saudi Arabia and has gone on to create a firm that is dedicated to representing women and bringing issues regarding women’s rights to court.

In speaking of the action, as reported in this article, Al-Zahran said, “I believe women lawyers can contribute a lot to the legal system. This law firm will make a difference in the history of court cases and female disputes in the Kingdom. I am very hopeful and thank everyone who supported me in taking this historical step.”

Saudi women

These incredible lawyers make up just a handful of examples where people in the profession have achieved amazing things. From those who hold in-house legal roles to judiciary positons, legal professionals are proving every day that their reputation for being dedicated and ruthless is hugely positive and not deserving of the sometimes poor connotations it is laden with.

Image Credit: Tori Rector, Waaghals, Tribes of the World (