The legal domain propels societal progress. Attorneys navigate complex laws upholding justice daily—litigating landmark cases, redirecting political winds, crafting policies, expanding access for marginalized groups, and defending vulnerable communities against negligence or oppression. This piece honors 10 remarkable attorneys bettering society across diverse disciplines in the U.S., U.K., and Canada today.
Without these unsung legal heroes working tirelessly towards equity under the law, societies risk regression-tying human potential. Their collective efforts lift disempowered voices and secure individual rights incrementally but powerfully.
This legal honor roll aims to spotlight 10 high-achieving attorneys and legal scholars making tangible positive impacts across locations and practice areas in the present age. Ranging from pioneering civil rights theorists to healthcare policy wonks to Indigenous rights defenders, these lawyers uplift communities through an abiding commitment to justice, while fueling legal system advancement.
By highlighting their journeys and contributions here, we inspire a new generation similarly dedicated to reaching the law’s full promise of empowerment and “infinite justice for all” moving ahead. For now, let their remarkable stories warrant long-overdue celebration as reminders of how law changes lives when skillfully practiced.
A collage of featured attorneys could visually anchor the intro’s scope and theme of celebrating law’s unsung influencers across domains and borders.
Civil Rights Icon, Kimberly Crenshaw – USA
UCLA Professor Kimberly Crenshaw stands today as an icon in critical race theory and intersectionality scholarship. From her tenured professorships at Columbia Law School and UCLA School of Law, Crenshaw drives cutting-edge analysis on how traditional legal frameworks systemically ignore the multi-layered discrimination facing minority women.
Her award-winning origin scholarship—literally coining the term “intersectionality” to examine overlapping bias against African American women—was recognized by Slate as one of the most important legal innovations of our era. She built empirical research frameworks revealing prejudice in rape legal standards and domestic violence policies, reshaping state laws nationwide.
Crenshaw co-founded the African American Policy Forum, producing critical legal theory explicating violence against women of color and girls of color, centering marginalized voices into policy conversations. She provides expert testimony globally connected to racial discrimination matters and speaks internationally on strategies to combat subtle cultural biases permeating institutional systems and cultures.
Healthcare Hero, Rebecca Earnhardt – USA
As CEO of Chicago’s nationally-ranked legal non-profit Health & Disability Advocates, attorney Rebecca Earnhardt leads policy efforts expanding healthcare access and affordability across Illinois especially for those living with disabilities and older adults.
Representing hundreds pro bono annually in disputes accessing long term care, Social Security benefits and other essential medical resources for vulnerable groups, Earnhardt evolves advocacy models enabling case outcomes to drive systemic impacts. Under her leadership securing key legal wins, the non-profit catalyzed new managed care consumer protections, defended critical home care resources for disabled citizens to avoid institutionalization, and fought Medicaid cuts balancing state budgets on the backs of the poor.
Beyond litigation and lobbying, Earnhardt collaborates negotiating solutions advancing technology-enabled mobile integrated health access for rural, low income and minority populations historically lacking care during the coronavirus health crisis. Her compassionate dealmaking brings healthcare heavy hitters to the table crafting policies reflecting community voices.
8 Other Notables Advancing “Infinite Justice”
While Crenshaw and Earnhardt showcase America’s top legal minds at present, many other attorneys positively shape law’s landscape across the Anglosphere…
War Crimes Prosecutor, Amal Clooney – UK
Among Britain’s most famous international human rights attorneys sits Rhodes Scholar and barrister Amal Clooney, honored for accepting only the most dangerous global human rights cases often through high profile appointments in United Nations investigations of war crimes and genocide perpetrated by world leaders and terrorist networks like ISIS.
Clooney currently represents multiple Yazidi victims of ISIS capturing, torturing and sexually enslaving young girls in Iraq. Her advocacy spotlights the overlooked plight of this tiny religious minority. In a historic first trial against ISIS in Germany, Clooney’s expertise helped construct prosecutorial legal arguments acknowledging genocide against the Yazidi people, securing a life sentence against the convicted.
The accomplished attorney also serves as the U.K.’s Special Envoy on Media Freedom, advising diplomats globally on preventing authoritarian regimes imprisoning and executing journalists exposing corruption and oppression.
First Nations Advocate, Jean Teillet – Canada
For over 40 years spearheading Indigenous rights cases in Canada, Métis Nation lawyer Jean Teillet makes tangible progress both litigating settlements and negotiating Self-Governance agreements expanding First Nations autonomy over ancestral lands.
Teillet’s expertise proved invaluable securing several precedent-setting Aboriginal hunting and fishing rights rulings in Canada’s Supreme Court. In the largest specific land claim settlement of its kind globally, Teillet negotiated $200 million in land assets and permanent fishing rights protections for 7,000 hectares of British Columbia ancestral lands on behalf of the Tsawwassen First Nation.
Her award-winning book “The North-West Is Our Mother” chronicles the overlooked history of Indigenous Peoples from the early fur trade through the present day. Teillet continues to advise governments at all levels on implementing legal frameworks that truly honor this unique history and autonomy over sovereign territory moving forward.
Disability Justice Advocate, Haben Girma – USA
The first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School, Haben Girma, advocates for disability civil rights as both an attorney with Disability Rights Advocates and a global public speaker through her namesake foundation. Beyond Americans with Disabilities Act compliance expertise, Girma promotes inclusive “universal design” across digital platforms and physical spaces enabling fuller participation by those with disabilities day-to-day.
Internationally sought for humanizing talks on accessibility and innovation, Girma translates lived complexity as a deaf-blind Ethiopian American woman into inspiration uplifting marginalized communities. Her work advances equity across difference as both a practicing attorney and influential thought leader coaching organizations on embedding true accessibility embracing diverse abilities.
Veteran Support Lawyer, Swords to Plowshares – USA
The San Francisco non-profit Swords to Plowshares provides wrap-around legal help to veterans navigating homelessness, health challenges and disability benefit delays as they transition back to civilian life in America. Staff attorneys assist qualifying vets accessing employment/training programs, affordable housing resources, and pro bono medical services through deep Bay Area partnerships shaped over decades. The pioneering model coordinates psychosocial counseling, income supports and critical legal advocacy together lifting vulnerable service members too often left behind by bureaucracies.
Crown Prosecutor Against Violence, Uma Chand – Canada
For over 20 years, British Columbia Assistant Deputy Attorney General Uma Chand oversees hundreds tackling gang violence and homicide cases across the Canadian province – one of the few women of color prosecuting violent crime and corruption globally.
Beyond convictions, Chand collaborates on programs preventing youth from entering gangs in the first place. Her focus rests squarely on rehabilitation avenues for detained populations and street intervention supplying community support instead of traditional policing alone. Chand’s multifaceted role modeling an intersection of compassion and correction in the legal system inspires future generations to believe that more inclusive justice exists, protecting families from all backgrounds.
Finance Industry Watchdog, Dennis Kelleher – USA
Leading Wall Street reformer Dennis Kelleher mobilizes advocacy groups BetterMarkets and the Financial Industry Reform Center combating securities fraud and corporate excess through regulatory engagement, lobbying legislators directly, and going after malefactors in court. His small team forced major global banks to pay billions in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis for unethical practices harming countless investors and pensioners relying on Wall Street to responsibly grow retirement savings.
Court Technology Innovator, Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz – Canada
As the most senior judge presiding on the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Canada’s Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz uprooted norms during the coronavirus pandemic, rapidly transitioning even the oldest Crown courts to secure virtual access and expanding legal system transparency and efficiency nationwide in weeks. His video conferencing infrastructure investments modernized courts essentially still structured from the 19th-century model to sustain equitable access to justice services across all communities, despite the public health risks associated with silencing proceedings. Such a vision spotlighting technology’s potential to keep legal institutions accessible through upheaval cements Justice Morawetz as an influential innovator on the global judicial stage, impacting coming generations internationally.
Conclusion: Carrying Justice’s Torch
This list offers mere highlights of the outsized influence individual attorneys drive daily – one case, one precedent, one bill, one decision at a time. Their collective impact lifts nations gradually towards justice, institutional accountability, and ethical frameworks prioritizing equality under the law for all marginalized communities.
In tumultuous times, nurturing such high-caliber attorneys committed to compassionate justice remains imperative so vulnerable groups can continue progressing from discrimination and disempowerment towards shared strength and self-determination.
The enduring influence of these standouts will hopefully inspire legions of aspiring attorneys to take up gavels themselves, carrying forth this vision of society guided into the future by the light of “infinite justice.”
A forward-looking tone wraps up honoring these attorneys while emphasizing the need to continually develop exceptional legal minds.