14 of the most successful Harvard Law School alumni of all time

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Antonin Scalia's Influence on the Supreme Court

Harvard Law School consistently ranks as one of the best in the country, recently landing the No. 3 spot on Business Insider's list of the 50 best law schools in America.

It's no surprise then that the institution's alumni comprise some of the most influential people in the country as well, including business magnates, Supreme Court justices, and US presidents.

Read on to meet some of the school's most successfull graduates, from President Barack Obama to Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

In 2008, Barack Obama cemented his place in history as the first black president of the United States. He made headlines during his time at HLS as well when he was elected as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. Obama graduated from law school in 1991, and spent years practicing civil rights law and teaching at the University of Chicago before deciding to run for public office. He served on the Illinois State Senate for eight years, and was elected to the US Senate in 2004.


Sources: Harvard Gazette, Harvard Law Today

Michelle Obama is also a Harvard Law School graduate, from the class of 1988. As the first-ever African-American First Lady, Obama has championed health, higher education, and support for service members, veterans, and their families. Before moving into the White House, Obama worked as a lawyer in Chicago and served as Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago.


Source: The White House

Justice Stephen Breyer joined the Supreme Court in 1994 at the appointment of Bill Clinton, where he's earned a reputation for pragmatic thinking. Before that, the 1964 Harvard Law grad returned to his alma mater as a law professor from 1967 until 1980 and served on the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.


Sources: The Crimson, The Supreme Court

In the early 1970s, a young Mitt Romney wanted to go to business school, but his father dreamed of him attending law school — so he did both. Romney graduated from Harvard's prestigious dual JD-MBA program in 1975, earning two degrees in four years. The former governor of Massachusetts gained widespread recognition in 2012 when he ran unsuccessfully as the Republican presidential candidate against incumbent Democrat Barack Obama.


Sources: New York Times, NBC

Elena Kagan became a justice of the Supreme Court in 2010 following a nomination from President Obama. Kagan had previously clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1988. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 1986 and took the helm as the school's dean in 2003, where she served until her appointment to SCOTUS.


Sources: The Washington Post, Harvard Law Today

Elected in 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes was the first Harvard Law School alumnus to become president of the United States. Hayes graduated from HLS in 1845, worked as a lawyer in Ohio, and rose to the rank of major general during the civil war. While in office, he ended Reconstruction and championed African-American rights.

Rutherford B. HayesGetty

Source: Harvard Law Today

Now chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein graduated from Harvard Law in 1978, three years after earning his bachelor's degree at the same institution. After Harvard, Blankfein entered the finance world at a small company called J. Aron, which was later acquired by Goldman Sachs, where Blankfein has spent the rest of his career. In 2015, a surge in Goldman stock made him a billionaire.


Sources: Business Insider, Fortune

Ted Cruz graduated from HLS in 1995, jumping into a career in politics and emerging as a leader of the Tea Party movement within the Republican party. The Texas senator took the spotlight earlier this year as he battled Donald Trump in the race to become the Republican presidential candidate for the 2016 election.

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA - JANUARY 5, 2016: Presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, speaks at a campaign stop in Iowa.Shutterstock

Source: The Boston Globe

After graduating from Harvard Law in 1961, Anthony Kennedy went on to teach constitutional law at the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law for over 20 years. Kennedy served on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit before taking a seat on the Supreme Court in 1988 following an appointment by President Ronald Reagan. He's become known for his ideological unpredictability, flipping between liberal and conservative views.


Sources: New York Magazine, The Crimson, The Supreme Court

A 1958 graduate of Harvard Law School, Ralph Nader garnered national attention for running for president five times between 1992 and 2008, primarily as the face of the Green Party. Though he remains a famous alumnus of Harvard, he's also a controversial one, unafraid of speaking out against it — he accused HLS of feeding into corporate greed in 2015.


Sources: The Crimson, Harvard Law Record

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was sworn in to the court in 2005 on an appointment from President George W. Bush. Before ascending to the highest court in the country, the 1979 Harvard Law grad served on the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, also on an appointment by the second President Bush.


Sources: Harvard Law Today, The Crimson

Sumner Redstone graduated from Harvard Law School in 1947 and went on to become a media magnate, serving as executive chairman of both CBS and Viacom until February 2016. In 2014, he donated $10 million to HLS to aid students planning to go into public service. But despite his generosity, 93-year-old Redstone's legacy remains a hot topic as several close to him jockey for control of his more than $5 billion fortune.


Sources: Harvard Law Today, Vanity Fair [1,2]

Loretta Lynch graduated from Harvard Law School in 1984 and currently serves as the Attorney General of the United States — the first African-American woman to ever hold the position. Previously, Lynch served as the head of the US Attorney's office in Brooklyn, where she prosecuted several cases involving public corruption, civil rights, terrorism, and cyber-criminals.


Sources: Department of Justice, Harvard Law Today

Former US Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonin Scalia joined SCOTUS in 1986 on a nomination from President Ronald Reagan, 16 years after graduating from Harvard Law School. Known for his conservative views and outspoken demeanor, Scalia died unexpectedly in February of 2016, leaving his Supreme Court seat up for debate.

Supreme Court ScaliaAP

Sources: The Supreme Court, CNN

RELATED: 7 successful business people rejected from grad school

7 successful business people rejected from grad school
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7 successful business people rejected from grad school

Sergey Brin, Google Co-founder
Rejected from MIT Graduate School

Photo credit: Getty

Warren Buffett, Business magnate
Rejected from Harvard Business School

Photo credit: Getty

George W. Bush, Former U.S. President
Rejected from University of Texas Law School

Photo credit: AP

Jerry Greenfield, Ben & Jerry's Co-founder
Rejected by every medical school he applied to

Photo credit: AP

Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of the first successful permanent artificial heart
Rejected by 15 medical schools

Photo credit: Getty

Jane Smiley, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Rejected from graduate writing programs at the University of Iowa and the University of Virginia

Photo credit: AP

James Watson, Co-discoverer of the structure of DNA
Rejected from Caltech Graduate School

Photo credit: AP


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