Lawyer May Be Next President

The next president of the United States is likely to have a law degree, judging from the abundance of candidates with legal backgrounds.

The three leading candidates in both major parties all have law degrees, USA Today reports. On the Democratic side, they are Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. In the Republican party, they are Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney.

Some of the candidates are making their legal experience a centerpiece of their campaigns while others downplay it.

John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, often talks about his efforts to obtain justice for victims of medical mistakes. He says that experience will help him stand up to “big insurance companies, big drug companies, big oil companies.”

But former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney doesn’t often refer to his legal background, instead emphasizing his business experience

Twenty-five of 43 presidents have law degrees, although the proportion of lawyer presidents has fallen during this century. ABA President William H. Neukom told USA Today a president with legal experience is a good thing.

“You’ve got to have the ego of a surgeon,” he said. “You’ve got the family farm on the line. What is your strategic plan? Who do you call as a witness? You’ve got to have that self-confidence to move forward.”

Professor Paul Finkelman of Albany Law School points to the success of lawyer-presidents such as Franklin Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. “When you look at the most successful presidents, many of them have been lawyers,” he told the newspaper.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.