People, who chose a profession of a lawyer, are taking one of the most challenging and difficult tasks in the society. Lots of them have a strong power of spirit and mind and want to make a difference by leaving a mark after themselves. However, the history has selected only few, who managed to make changes in society in their own way and become successful. The objective of the following paper is to look into the two lawyers who have changed the world. Even today, many years after, they are an example to students at the law schools and to professional attorneys, as well.
“The trouble with law is lawyers” – this famous quote was told by Clarence Darrow (“Clarence Darrow quotes,” 2014). Darrow was born in 1857; his father was against slavery and passed his political ideas to the son. The higher education the famous lawyer received at the University of Michigan Law School; in 1878, he was registered as the member of the Ohio State Bar Association. First years of his career were dedicated to the ordinary job, but then Darrow made a decision to move to Chicago, where he deeply engaged in radicalism and Henry George, who promoted it. With deeper learning and understanding of what people really were, Darrow developed some sympathy to the theories of socialism.
In 1890, Darrow worked in the Chicago and North Western Railway but, during the strike, he felt sorry for the trade unions representatives and decided to help them. The famous lawyers offered his services to workers (Linder, 2014). Six years later, Darrow gave up his lucrative job and attended Democratic National Convention. He became a fundament of the intellectual elite of Chicago, as he was a committed agnostic and determinist. He would host frequent meetings in his apartment where the scientific, philosophic, and literature masterpieces were read and discussed. Darrow was influenced much by those works, as well as the views of the contemporary society. Consequently, Darrow put much more passion and dedication into his work, as he was winning the cases not only for the benefit of his client but also for the people and beliefs of America, who deserved that. He had a strong belief that the intellectual battle can be won but not only fought.
Darrow had a long career of brilliant victories; he was the one who defended the notorious case of the young and viscous thrill killers known as Leopold and Loeb, and won the title of the most famous lawyers in the US. The prosecutor insisted on a death sentence, but a two-hour speech provided by Darrow was extremely influential, and the killers were punished with a life imprisonment. Being a trial attorney, Darrow has managed to achieve the title of the most hated and beloved lawyer at the same time; his speeches had a strong power and influence on those who listened to them.
One of the most desired cases for Darrow was the Scopes’ case, which was described in his autobiography. Prosecutor William Jennings Bryan was on the opposite side. Darrow described the cases as the one that had “civilization on trial.” John T. Scopes wanted him as a defender while public was rather skeptical. This case was very notorious as it looked not only at the guilt of the defendant but also the controversies concerning the origin of a human being.
Darrow was an incredible figure in the modern history, as he was questioning many concepts of that time: religion, fundamentalism, and theology. He believed in the God existence, but progress and evolution meant much more to him (Linger, 2004).
Darrow died at the age of 80 in Chicago. He was not only a lawyer who managed to win numerous complicated cases, but also a man who understood the human nature. His last case was the Lieutenant Thomas Massie trial in Honolulu that Darrow won with the sentence of a ten-year imprisonment. He was truly the most famous murder defense attorney of his time, not only because of the complexity and notoriety of the cases he was working on, but also because he had sympathy to a human being and was a humanitarian. He was a man of revolution in mind and heart who supported conservative believes in conduct and actions. He did not believe in the atrocities of the German people and later defended some of his friends that made him a figure of controversies (“Clarence Darrow is dead in Chicago,” 1938).
Another important figure in the legal history of the United States was Johnnie Cochran, who began his path as a lawyer in Los Angeles and worked in the criminal division as a Deputy Attorney. After a year of hard work, he was offered a position of the Assistant District Attorney. Later on, he left the job and started his own company; he hired only professionals to work on the most interesting civil and criminal cases.
He did many good deeds for the contemporary community and became famous for the phrase, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” This quote was told during a dramatic moment in the Simpson case, when the bloodstained gloves that were used for the murder could not fit the alleged killer. It was considered a turning point of that case. On the basis of that assertion, the Hall of Fame football star was found not guilty of the murder of his former wife and her lover. The acquittal of Simpson was one of the greatest achievements of Johnnie Cochran. He made a specialty of the black people cases, as he believed that they were treated unfairly by the society of that time. Johnnie Cochran earned multi-million dollar checks as he worked for black people, who were innocent, as police usually abused them. Once, he asserted that the mothers of the African-American children were more afraid for their children to be killed by police than by villains.
Other famous cases of Johnnie Cochran included the representation of the football star Jim Brown, who was accused in a rape; actor Todd Bridges, who was facing murder allegations; rappers Snoop Dog and Tupac Shakur on a murder charge and weapon possession accordingly. Another famous case was related to Black Panther Elmer, who spent 27 years in prison for the murder he had not committed. Cochran worked on numerous cases of the police brutality, such as the cases of Abner Louima (tortured by police) and Tyisha Miller (killed by a police officer).
However, the most notorious case was related to Simpson, as the verdict to it had split the country according to the racial believes. Black people believed that the defendant did not commit the murder while the white population had another opinion and saw him as a guilty man. The frustration with Johnnie Cochran was very strong as he was the one, who won the case. He was an example of a successful attorney pinnacle, who had been working hard for the Los Angeles legal area for more than three decades.
Johnnie Cochran enjoyed arguing and defending his views even when he was a child. His idol was Thurgood Marshall, who had eventually become the first black justice of the Supreme Court. Cochran earned his law degree from Loyola University Chicago. His firm was growing very fast and, after a short period, it already accounted around 100 lawyers around the country. He usually kept his private life secret, but divorce that occurred in 1978 unveiled many starling facts. Cochran had two daughters from his legal marriage. The divorce, however, revealed that he had a secret love; that woman gave birth to a boy. During the Simpson case, Cochran was accused of playing a dirty game, as he twisted to murder allegations trial into a fight against the injustice of the Police Department. However, the second case related to Simpson did not involve Cochran as a defender (“Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Obituary,” 2005).
Being the son of an insurance salesperson and a great-grandson of slavery, Johnnie Cochran was a person, who strongly believed in what he was doing. He protected not only clients but also civil rights of that people. He was a tireless person, civil libertarian, generous philanthropist, and accomplished trial lawyer. Before the Simpson case, he had been a dedicated person who brought justice to all Americans. The award known as the Civil Trial Lawyer of the Year was first given to Johnnie Cochran; he also won some other recognition certificates later.
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In 1996, Cochran joined the Inner Circle of Advocates, which included the top 100 personal injury lawyers of the United States. He was definitely one of the best. Unfortunately, Johnnie Cochran died of brain tumor on March 29, 2005 (Simkin, 2014).
To conclude on the following paper, it is important to mention that the selected figures have many controversies and apparently have been facing ambiguous treatment from the society. However, they were not afraid of a challenge and have managed not only to win numerous complicated cases but also to communicate a message to the society concerning the human rights, liberties, social justice, and beliefs.