University of Wisconsin–Madison

America's Lawyer-Presidents : from law office to Oval Office

Have you ever thought about being President of the United States?  It's a long shot, but not entirely impossible.  Barack Obama is our 44th President and the first African-American to hold the office.  It may not be long before America elects a woman to be President.  One thing you and many Presidents have in common is the legal profession.  Just as you're studying to be a lawyer many of them were lawyers.

"Lawyers have played a pivotal role in the shaping of the political and civic life of this country," Former Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor writes in the Forward to this week's book.  "Their role remains a vital one today.  Legal education continues to provide the training ground for significant numbers of our nation's leaders."

In America's Lawyer-Presidents : from law office to Oval Office you'll get a good look at exactly what kind of lawyer many of our Presidents were from John Adams to Bill Clinton.  The list below represents just some of the Presidents chronicled in this entertaining and informative book:

As expected, John Adams is the "patriot lawyer" --- Thomas Jefferson the "legal wordsmith" --- For his pivotal role in the Amistad case, John Quincy Adams is known as the "eloquent advocate" --- Andrew Jackson moved west from the Carolinas to Kentucky to prosecute "frontier justice" --- Franklin Pierce the "courtroom orator" was among the greatest trial lawyers to serve as president --- A "strict constructionist" James Buchanan was well known as a skilled constitutional lawyer --- Abraham Lincoln will always be beloved as the "prairie lawyer" --- James A. Garfield having argued 12 cases before our nation's highest court is surely "Supreme Court counsel" --- William Howard Taft was not only Solicitor General, Secretary of War, and President of the United States, but "Mr. Chief Justice" as well --- Franklin Delano Roosevelt found the profession menial and boring proved to be a "contrarian counselor" as his true love was politics --- Gerald R. Ford's early fame as an University of Michigan football player with two national championship titles easily made him "All-American Counsel" --- and William Jefferson Clinton made being a "political lawyer" a career.

You can find this title in the Law Library's Reference Collection at KF353 A46 2004.  A circulating copy is also available over at College Library under the same call number.

Submitted by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian on April 1, 2014

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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