Law is one of the oldest academic fields, which some of history’s greatest minds have studied before going on to change the world. Here we take a look at four celebrated women who followed the legal education pathway, and went on to build illustrious careers both in law, and beyond.
Few women in recent years have been cast so intensely into the global limelight as Hillary Clinton, with her unsuccessful presidential campaign seeing her on the losing side of one of the most seismic political events of our era. The seasoned Democrat followed a well-trodden path towards civic duty, with many politicians using their law degrees as a platform upon which to build their careers.
As an undergraduate, the young ambitious Hillary Rodham majored in political science, before joining the illustrious Yale Law School. It was here where she also met future husband and fellow law student Bill Clinton, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Hillary’s legal interest during her studies was in the children’s rights movement, which had been gaining momentum alongside the fizzing political backdrop of 1960s America, and in 1973 she had her first scholarly article, "Children Under the Law" published in the Harvard Educational Review.
The Lebanese-born international human rights lawyer is a major force on the global legal scene. There’s little doubt her marriage to Hollywood swoon-inducer George Clooney helped raise her public profile, but within her field and beyond she was already revered for her outstanding work.
Amal studied Jurisprudence (the Oxford equivalent to the LLB) at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and following this entered the New York University School of Law to study for the LLM degree. She also received the Jack J. Katz Memorial Award for excellence in entertainment law (no link to meeting her future husband, however).
Since then Amal Clooney hasn’t been short of high-profile cases. She’s represented the State of Cambodia, worked towards the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, represented former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and acted as advisor to the King of Bahrain. One of her most recent clients was WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – probably one of the toughest cases a lawyer could ask for, against the sharpened knives of governments worldwide.
Elisabeth Holloway Marston
Not many know her by name, but most would have heard of the iconic comic book superhero she inspired – Wonder Woman. The creator of the ‘’anti-patriarchy propaganda’’ comic was Elisabeth’s husband – psychologist, inventor, self-help author, and comic book writer William Moulton Marston. He credits his wife as having come up with the idea of a female superhero, but he was equally inspired by his live-in mistress and student Olive Byrne, in what made for a tantalisingly dramatic soap opera scenario, all living together in polyamorous harmony … but we digress.
Elisabeth studied psychology as an undergraduate, and went on to complete her LLB from the Boston University School of Law in 1918, where she was one of three women to graduate from the school that year. She went on to join the psychology department at Harvard University with her husband, where the two worked on a thesis exploring correlation between blood pressure levels and deception. The couples’ work led to the creation of first prototype of a lie detector test, the polygraph.
To many, Cherie Blair is better known as the wife of New Labour pioneer and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. However, she is a professional force in her own right, continuing today her work as a renowned barrister and lecturer. As law students go, Cherie Blair was as exemplary as they come. She took her law degree at the prestigious London School of Economics, where she graduated with First-Class Honours, and later on came at the top of her year in the bar exams, which she studied at the University of Law.
She was also one of the founding members of the Matrix Chambers in 2000 – a group of experienced legal minds specialising in human rights law, and with a strong focus on the European Convention on Human Rights, and public international law. Cherie’s legal prowess has seen her take on a number of high-profile cases, notably before the European Court of Justice tackling the issue of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Studying a law degree is a great way to open up a range of exciting professional pathways, and make a difference to the issues you care about most. Start your journey to becoming a legal professional with an online LLB (Hons) QLD.