Advocacy is one of the oldest professions of which there is a historical record. And it has been that since the dawn of humanity there have been conflicts and someone must help redeem them. How to know which were the best lawyers in history? We’ll talk about that today
In principle the jurists were just judges who were dedicated to redeem conflicts. A role sometimes rulers exercised. In other historical moments it was the judges who exercised as rulers as can be seen from the book of the judges of the Bible.
In this way it is one of the most relevant professions in our society. However, this profession does not have such visibility in a technology-focused society.
The best lawyers in history mix knowledge of the laws with a lot of common sense. They must also possess skills in the field of psychology and good doses of public speaking and writing. We left you a video named “What makes a good lawyer?”
What makes a good lawyer?
They say that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. In this we consider that there is no doubt. Even so, some of the first stories place the best lawyers in history seeking justice in cases of alleged immorality.
Without a doubt, the lawyer was born to defend society from injustices. To do this, the lawyer must make a multitude of tools. The lawyer uses rhetoric, knowledge of the laws and above all common sense to defend his case.
Whether you are an accusing attorney or a defense attorney, the attorney uses every tool at your disposal. And when experience has already elevated him beyond taking part in one or the other, he becomes a judge. A complex and beautiful profession at the same time.
Let’s get to know one of the first stories in history about the complex work of the best lawyers in the world.
Friné and immorality is in the soul of the one who evaluates it
From ancient Greece comes the story of Friné accused of immorality. A group of citizens accused Friné of immoral before a popular jury.
Friné was a beautiful lady whose charms aroused the interest of men and the annoyance of her women. Given those circumstances the women began to gather to plan their revenge. The beauty of Friné and the looks she stole from her husbands would not go unpunished. But his lawyer Hyperides understood not only laws but also human nature.
His lawyer understood that jealousy and low passions were hidden in the accusations. In this way the lawyer considered a tactic that involved psychology and common sense.
According to the Greek ladies Phryne compared herself to the goddess Aphrodite. Comparing oneself to a goddess was considered a very serious crime punishable by death. This was the way they presented The immorality of Phryne to make her kill and end her “competition”.
Her lawyer took Friné naked wrapped in a scarlet blanket. While presenting the arguments, he cited the bad intentions of the accusations. As he presented the allegations, he discovered Friné’s body completely naked.
This process caught the attention, dazzled the jurors and in turn aroused the annoyance of their accusers. Thus he managed to expose the accusers not as justice seekers but as interested parties. We cannot deny that showing a girl’s body could influence the jury.
The lawyer understood that he needed to expose the accusers while putting the jury on his side. And he achieved his goal, the beautiful and innocent Friné was acquitted and released.
Proliferation of lawyers
Jurists have proliferated throughout the history of mankind. Where there is a set of human beings, there is collaboration but also conflicts and differences.
Where power is manifested, there is no lack of resistance or who dominates the arts of persuasion and knowledge of the Law.
The community of professions that linked to law in the world is huge. Linked to law we have judges, justices of the peace, mediators, lawyers, attorneys, and law professors.
There are also an immense number of nearby professions, including that of politicians. We’ll talk about this last point below.
Without the jurists the justice machine would disappear, and the social disorder would lead to the destruction of the world.
It is difficult to rely on the defense of one’s motives with their own means. History has shown that this leads to abuses and public scorn.
Also, the absence of laws and justice produces the implementation of violent methods. Physical strength, coercion or the power of groups are imposed.
It is important that there are mechanisms to mediate between several reasons and achieve the balance of justice. The best lawyers in history understand that of the balance of justice.
Thanks to lawyers, society has achieved civilized mechanisms for conflict resolution. In addition, lawyers have managed to establish processes to defend the rights of both the accused and the victims.
Lawyers have made numerous contributions to regulating social relations. Thanks to his work in parliaments and legislative bodies, the world is a little more just and organized.
Its role is from the creation of laws, implementation, in the courts and even in governments. It is a fundamental profession in modern society. But let’s know a little more about the best lawyers in history.
The best lawyers in history can also be rulers
A study by The Economist magazine conducted in 2009 based on a sample of 5,000 presidents and government ministers. The most recurring career of the sample of presidents and ministers selected turned out to be law or laws (20%). After the law profession, other professions in the business area followed (17%). At the end of that list were the careers of journalism, economics, medicine and academic careers.
With this we can see that the legal profession is among one of the most prolific in the political world. Prominent politicians like Barack Obama, former US president. and Nobel Peace Prize or Vladimir Putin President of Russia are lawyers.
Without entering into the evaluation of good or bad government efforts, the influence of law in governments is undeniable. Some jurists who achieved great influence in the political sphere are:
- Juan Domingo Perón: Political leader of Argentina. He has been the only president of Argentina to be elected three times.
- Bill Clinton: Former President of the United States of America
- Felipe González: Head of Government of Spain. The term of 13 and a half years was the longest of a head of government in democracy.
- Nelson Mandela: This South African lawyer and activist not only achieved the elimination of Apartheid, a regime that limited the rights of blacks. In addition, Mandela became the first president of South Africa elected by universal vote. His greatest achievement was to achieve the reconciliation of South Africa after apartheid.
- Mahatma Gandhi: This Indian lawyer was the greatest leader of India’s independence movement. Their pacifism is still evoked all over the world.
How to make a list of the best lawyers in history?
Making a top of the best lawyers in history would be unfair and very complicated. Actually any analysis that would be performed would have to consider so many variables that it would become eternal. However, this does not keep us from our intention to show what some of the best lawyers in history have been.
The traces that some have left in history are and will remain indelible.
Questions to Determine The Best Lawyers
Some questions that were used to consider this list and that should be considered for the elaboration of any future list are the following:
- How to evaluate academic and theoretical merits against firm victories in legal proceedings? Which is more important and what weight should they have in the evaluation?
- What will be valued more, the quantity or quality of the written works? How can you evaluate the quality of the theoretical dissertation?
- Is the impact on your time or the legacy for today’s world considered
- How to compare the jurists belonging to different judicial systems and different countries?
- Its impact considered when transforming an existing system or its value within the system in which it lived?
- Is the best lawyer who wins the most cases or who best serves the purpose of justice?
- Is it more valuable to avoid litigation or your victory in the legal process?
- What is more important, laws and judicial process or persuasion?
Today we will show the names of those who in our opinion have earned a place in the history of Law. Names of jurists who have died and that will undoubtedly be remembered forever.
We will start with the old law and we will move forward in time as the article is updated.
The best lawyers in history in ancient law
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 a.c. – 43 a.c):
Apart from being one of the best lawyers in history, Marcus Tullius Cicero was a politician, philosopher, writer and speaker. An example to follow that also an innovator. He was characterized by avoiding sacramental formulas. These were formulas when ignored by the common man prevented access to justice which “secret key”. Recognized for the flexibility of his speech which he adapted according to the nature of the process, whether civil, criminal or political. It is also said that he was very vehement. Cicero affirmed the following
“Science that moves away from justice rather than science should be called cunning.”
Ulpian (170 AD – 228 AD)
Considered the best academic jurist Ulpian was the one who analyzed the sources of law of the time: laws, senate consultations, edicts of praetors and mayor and offered guides for imperial magistrates.
His work “The Institutions” was the starting point of Roman Law. The latter is so relevant that the 3rd part of the Justinian Compilation takes as reference and source the writings of Ulpian.
Emperor Justinian (482 AD.c . – 564 AD.c.)
He was one of the most important Roman emperors, taking as a flag to revive the Roman Empire. To this end, he focused on retaking lost territories and carrying out an integral organization of what Roman law represented. The compilation and harmonization of all Roman law into a single coherent body of law is known as “Corpus iuris civilis”.
Thanks to the contribution of Justinian, Roman law acquired an integral character and is the basis of Western law and this civilization.
The best lawyers in history in the law of the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages are characterized by being a stage of the world in which the advance of civilization stopped. Religious power and monarchies admitted the absolute power of monarchs and the church. Formerly it was said that “from the King to the Law there is only one letter” and with it that the only law was what the king decreed.
However, with all this towards the end of the Middle Ages a movement was born that made Roman law reborn. Little by little this movement in the modern age made even kings submit to the law. Let’s know a little more about its greatest exponents
Bartolus de Saxoferrato (1313-1357)
The legal world of the Middle Ages considered as the best jurist the doctor in laws Bartolus de Saxoferrato. His whose teachings exceeded the literal criteria of the laws. He focused on a critical methodology that combined the letter and the spirit of the law.
The expression “barges” of law students has its origin in the “Bartolos” or texts provided by the teacher. So much was his influence that the kings supported his doctrine. Among these were the Catholic Monarchs who decreed the interpretative criteria of Bartolus will be applied in case of doctrinal discrepancy.
Baldo degli Ubaldi (1327 AD.c. – 1400 AD.c.)
The best pupil of Barbalo of Sassoferrato became his successor. Baldo Degli Ubaldi was a professor of law at the best universities in the world at that time: Florence, Bologna, Padua, Pavia and Perugia.
He worked in both civil and canon law. He was the law teacher of what would later become Pope Gregory XI. In 1378 during the so-called Western Schism of the church he served as advisor to Urban Sextus against the so-called “antipope”.
The best lawyers in history in the Modern Age
From the Modern Age, relevant jurists begin to rise who leave their mark on the Science of Law. Some as lawyers, others as professors and others as judges (and even some adding both conditions).
In a quick review and by way of we can point out the following lawyers and judges as the best in history during the Modern Age.
It is always useful to put a face on the teachers we always listen to, admire or those we owe so much.
Edward Coke (1552-1634)
Lawyer of the British Crown, attorney general of the United Kingdom and president of the Court of Common Pleas. He was also the first judge of the Supreme Court in 1613.
Not only was he defending the rights of the person but he faced King James I to defend judicial independence. As one of the best lawyers in history led to deny the King the possibility of assuming judicial powers whenever he wanted.
He came to affirm in sentence the following:
“The king himself ought not to be under man but under God, and under the Law, because the Law makes the king. Therefore let the king render back to the Law what the Law gives him, namely, dominion and power; for there is no king where will, and not Law, wields dominion. ”
Despite his great contributions to jurisprudence, his independence won him many enemies, including the king. Due to enmity with King James I, among others, Coke had his titles removed and died away from the courts.
He was one of the jurists whose legacy was embodied in the English constitution.
His most famous work “Institutes of the Lawes of England” was written in 1628. This is a mandatory reference work for any English lawyer. This text has had numerous reissues and is still being printed today.
Hugo Grotius (1583-1645)
Philosopher, writer and poet and jurist from the Netherlands. This prodigy laid the foundations of International Law through his work “De Jure Belli ac Pacis” published in 1625.
The work that in english is known as “On the Law of War and Peace” establishes the principle that there are no just wars. He even raised something that is now more “there are no good and bad, they are all the same.” This set of ideas also formed the basis for law during a state of war.
Hugo Grotius affirmed that international law is based on the Law of People and this derives from reason. This leads him to consider moving from a right based on spirituality and mysticism to one based on reason and common sense.
In his time he dared to say that the right of people “would exist even if God did not exist.” It is not that he was an atheist but that he raised the immutability of law in time.
According to his arguments God established the principles for the law, and already done this not even God could change it.
Strong arguments for his time that earned him few sympathies. However, his approach laid the foundations for the creation of a secular right and state.
Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755)
Montestuieu, as he is commonly known, was a French political thinker, philosopher, jurist and magistrate. His work is developed in the cultural context of illustration that permeated all strata of society. The illustration changed the world landscape from the political, economic, religious and cultural.
He is considered the father of the theory of the division of powers of the State that inspires the modern Constitutions (“The Spirit of the Laws”, 1748).
He is considered the father of the theory of the division of powers of the State that inspires the modern Constitutions (“The spirit of the laws”, 1748).
Regarding the separation of powers Montesquieu wrote:
«When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.»
«Again, there is no liberty if the judiciary power be not separated from the legislative and executive. Were it joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary controul; for the judge would be then the legislator. Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with violence and oppression.»
«There would be an end of every thing, were the same man, or the same body, whether of the nobles or of the people, to exercise those three powers, that of enacting laws, that of executing the public resolutions, and of trying the causes of individuals.»
The best lawyers in contemporary law
Sarmiza Bilcescu (1867-1935):
She was the first woman to have a doctorate in law. If we have to talk about the role of lawyers in the defense of rights, it is key to take it into account. Since thanks to it began to give importance to the exercise of professions in women.
Her doctoral thesis was entitled “On the legal status of the mother” which reflected the limitations that women had to access their rights, especially women who exercised the role of mothers in society.
Prospects of Law to evaluate the best lawyers in history.
As we could see, the best lawyers in ancient history stood out for different aspects. Some for his oratory, others for his challenge to the established Law and others for his theoretical contributions. Many perspectives that we can address in these articles to discover which are the best lawyers in the history of mankind.
For more information visit: