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Shark Week: Top Ten Lawyer Sharks of All Time

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD | Last updated on

At FindLaw, we're a little tired of the negative "lawyers are sharks" jokes, so we're reclaiming the word. As Run-DMC would say, it's "Not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good."

When people are making all those jokes, they seem to forget that lawyers are also the people defending their civil liberties. So, in honor of the Discovery Channel's Shark Week, we thought it would be fun to highlight some of the most bad-ass lawyer sharks throughout history.

1. Barry C. Scheck & Peter J. Neufeld

This dynamic duo founded The Innocence Project, an organization devoted to exonerating wrongly convicted people through the use of DNA testing. To date, The Innocence Project has exonerated 311 people.

2. Bella Abzug

"Battling Bella" declared: "This woman's place is in the House -- the House of Representatives," in her successful political campaign. She, along with Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, founded the National Women's Political Caucus.

3. Thurgood Marshall

With an impressive amount of successful arguments before the Supreme Court, perhaps his biggest win was Brown v. Board of Education. He went on to become the Supreme Court's first African-American justice.

4. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Law professor and co-founder of the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU, she argued cases before the Supreme Court affording women the protections of the Equal Protection Clause and the intermediate scrutiny standard. She went on to become the second woman Justice on the Supreme Court.

5. Clarence Darrow

Noted trial lawyer most famous for his representation, of John Scopes, in the "Scopes Monkey Trial."

6. Andrew Hamilton

His arguments established truth as a defense to libel, which as members of the press, we thank him.

7. Sir Thomas More

Lawyer, philosopher and Renaissance man, he wrote the infamous book Utopia.

8. Marian Wright Edelman

The first woman to pass the bar exam in Mississippi, Edelman went on to be a champion of civil rights and the rights of children. She founded the Children's Defense Fund giving a voice to disabled, minority and poor children.

9. Belva Lockwood

In 1873, Lockwood earned her law degree and went on to be the first woman to argue before the Supreme Court.

10. Catharine A. MacKinnon

A Yale law graduate, in 1986 MacKinnon argued before the Supreme Court that sexual harassment was a form of sexual discrimination. They agreed.

Reading about lawyers like these makes putting up with all the lawyer jokes much easier ... and they make Great White sharks look nice. But did we cover them all? No. Got suggestions? Please tweet us with your ideas and use #LegalSharkWeek.

Swim on.

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