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Who are the most influential thinkers in world?

Identify leaders in your chosen discipline, research top professors in your area of study, and search for schools based on the luminaries who most inspire you!

Note: These rankings change dynamically as our artificial intelligence system learns new things and incorporates new publications and citations. Academics are constantly doing research and publishing new insights, with the result that our measure of influence is subject to continual adjustments. For quality assurance reasons, however, we forgo real-time changes, with most public updates happening only quarterly. In any case, don’t be surprised to see our rankings change over time.

Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …

Gender designations here are based off data sourced from Wikidata.

About our data on gender

List of the most influential people in Law, for the years 1920 – 2020

Richard Posner
# 1
Richard Posner

1939 - Present (82 years)

#311 person's overall influence

Richard Posner is a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School who served as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He earned his A.B. degree in English literature from Yale University (summa cum laude), and his LL.B. from Harvard Law School (magna cum laude and valedictorian).

Ronald Dworkin
# 2
Ronald Dworkin

1931 - 2013 (82 years)

#791 person's overall influence

Ronald Myles Dworkin was an American philosopher, jurist, and scholar of United States constitutional law. At the time of his death, he was Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law and Philosophy at New York University and Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London. Dworkin had taught previously at Yale Law School and the University of Oxford, where he was the Professor of Jurisprudence, successor to renowned philosopher H. L. A. Hart. An influential contributor to both philosophy of law and political philosophy, Dworkin received the 2007 Holberg International Memorial Prize in the

H. L. A. Hart
# 3
H. L. A. Hart

1907 - 1992 (85 years)

#1105 person's overall influence

Herbert Lionel Adolphus Hart , usually cited as H. L. A. Hart, was a British legal philosopher, and a major figure in political and legal philosophy. He was Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford University and the Principal of Brasenose College, Oxford. His most famous work is The Concept of Law , which has been hailed as "the most important work of legal philosophy written in the twentieth century". He is considered one of the world's foremost legal philosophers in the twentieth century, alongside Hans Kelsen.

Brian Leiter
# 4
Brian Leiter

1963 - Present (58 years)

#2142 person's overall influence

Brian Leiter is the Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence for The University of Chicago Law School and Founder and Director of the Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Values at the University of Chicago. He earned an AB in philosophy from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Michigan.

Alan Dershowitz
# 5
Alan Dershowitz

1938 - Present (83 years)

#1015 person's overall influence

Alan Dershowitz is a former Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He earned his A.B. in political science from Brooklyn College and his LL.B from Yale Law School.

John Finnis
# 6
John Finnis

1940 - Present (81 years)

#2000 person's overall influence

John Finnis is the Biolchini Family Professor of Law and a Permanent Senior Distinguished Research Fellow for Notre Dame. He is also a Professor Emeritus of Law & Legal Philosophy at the University of Oxford. he earned his LL.B from the University of Adelaide’s St. Mark’s College. He then attended University College in Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, earning a PhD.

Georges Gurvitch
# 7
Georges Gurvitch

1894 - 1965 (71 years)

#1487 person's overall influence

Georges Gurvitch was a Russian-born French sociologist and jurist. One of the leading sociologists of his times, he was a specialist of the sociology of knowledge. In 1944 he founded the journal Cahiers internationaux de Sociologie. He held a chair in sociology at the Sorbonne in Paris. An outspoken advocate of Algerian decolonization, Gurvitch and his wife were the victim of terrorist attack by the far-right nationalist group, L'O.A.S on June 22, 1962. Their apartment was destroyed by a bomb, and they took refuge for a time at the house of painter Marc Chagall.

Erwin Chemerinsky
# 8
Erwin Chemerinsky

1953 - Present (68 years)

#2006 person's overall influence

Erwin Chemerinsky is the dean of the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Law, as well as their Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law. He earned a B.S. in communications from Northwestern University, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Alex Kozinski
# 9
Alex Kozinski

1950 - Present (71 years)

#2793 person's overall influence

Alex Kozinski is a Romanian-born American jurist and lawyer who was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1985 to 2017. He was a prominent and influential judge, and many of his law clerks went on to clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cass Sunstein
# 10
Cass Sunstein

1954 - Present (67 years)

#1225 person's overall influence

Cass Sunstein is Harvard Law School’s Robert Walmsley University Professor. He earned his B.A. and J.D. from Harvard University and is a scholar of constitutional law and behavioral economics.

Roscoe Pound
# 11
Roscoe Pound

1870 - 1964 (94 years)

#1128 person's overall influence

Nathan Roscoe Pound was an American legal scholar and educator. He served as Dean of the University of Nebraska College of Law from 1903 to 1911 and Dean of Harvard Law School from 1916 to 1936. He was a member of the faculty at UCLA School of Law in the school's early years, from 1949 to 1952. The Journal of Legal Studies has identified Pound as one of the most cited legal scholars of the 20th century.

Laurence Tribe
# 12
Laurence Tribe

1941 - Present (80 years)

#2845 person's overall influence

Laurence H. Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law Emeritus at Harvard, has taught at its Law School since 1968 and was voted the best professor by the graduating class of 2000. The title “University Professor” is Harvard’s highest academic honor, awarded to just a handful of professors at any given time and to fewer than 75 professors in all of Harvard University’s history. He received tenure at 30.

John Yoo
# 13
John Yoo

1967 - Present (54 years)

#3573 person's overall influence

John Yoo is the Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. and from Yale University with a J.D. He is well known for his scholarship regarding executive power, domestic surveillance, and searches.

# 14
Peter Birks

1941 - 2004 (63 years)

#5745 person's overall influence

Peter Brian Herrenden Birks was the Regius Professor of Civil Law at the University of Oxford from 1989 until his death. He also became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1989, and an honorary Queen's counsel in 1995. He was a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is widely credited as having sparked academic enthusiasm for the English law of Restitution, and is often considered to have been one of the greatest English legal scholars of the 20th century.

Guido Calabresi
# 15
Guido Calabresi

1932 - Present (89 years)

#2915 person's overall influence

Guido Calabresi is a Senior United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale University. He is known, along with his colleagues Ronald Coase and Richard Posner, as a founder of the interdisciplinary study of law and economics. He earned a B.S. from Yale University, a B.A. from Magdalen College of Oxford University, an LL.B from Yale Law School and an M.A. from Oxford University.

Oliver Wendell Holmes
# 16
Oliver Wendell Holmes

1841 - 1935 (94 years)

#632 person's overall influence

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932, and as Acting Chief Justice of the United States in January–February 1930. Noted for his long service, concise and pithy opinions, and deference to the decisions of elected legislatures, he is one of the most widely cited United States Supreme Court justices in history, particularly for his "clear and present danger" opinion for a unanimous Court in the 1919 case of Schenck v. United States, and is one of the most influential American common law judg

Learned Hand
# 17
Learned Hand

1872 - 1961 (89 years)

#2323 person's overall influence

Billings Learned Hand was an American judge and judicial philosopher. He served on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and later the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Hand had been quoted more often by legal scholars and by the Supreme Court of the United States than any other lower-court judge.

Jeffrey Toobin
# 18
Jeffrey Toobin

1960 - Present (61 years)

#2853 person's overall influence

Jeffrey Ross Toobin is an American lawyer, blogger, author and legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker. During the Iran–Contra affair, he served as an associate counsel in the Department of Justice, and moved from government into writing during the 1990s.

Eric Posner
# 19
Eric Posner

1965 - Present (56 years)

#5432 person's overall influence

Eric Posner is a professor of law at the University of Chicago’s Law School. He earned his B.A. and M.A. in philosophy from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. His interests have included game theory, international law, foreign relations law, cost-benefit analysis, and national security privacy issues.

Jack Balkin
# 20
Jack Balkin

1956 - Present (65 years)

#4316 person's overall influence

Jack M. Balkin is an American legal scholar. He is the Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School. Balkin is the founder and director of the Yale Information Society Project , a research center whose mission is "to study the implications of the Internet, telecommunications, and the new information technologies for law and society." He also directs the Knight Law and Media Program and the Abrams Institute for Free Expression at Yale Law School.

Navanethem Pillay
# 21
Navanethem Pillay

1941 - Present (80 years)

#16051 person's overall influence

Navanethem "Navi" Pillay is a South African jurist who served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014. A South African of Indian Tamil origin, she was the first non-white woman judge of the High Court of South Africa, and she has also served as a judge of the International Criminal Court and President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Her four-year term as High Commissioner for Human Rights began on 1 September 2008 and was extended an additional two years in 2012. She was succeeded in September 2014 by Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad. In April 2015 P

# 22
Glanville Williams

1911 - 1997 (86 years)

#6368 person's overall influence

Glanville Llewelyn Williams was a Welsh legal scholar who was the Rouse Ball Professor of English Law at the University of Cambridge from 1968 to 1978 and the Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at University College, London, from 1945 to 1955. He has been described as Britain's foremost scholar of criminal law.

Jeremy Waldron
# 23
Jeremy Waldron

1953 - Present (68 years)

#7740 person's overall influence

Jeremy Waldron is a University Professor of the School of Law at New York University and an adjunct professor for Victoria University of Wellington. He earned a B.A. and an LL.B. from the University of Otago in New Zealand. He went on to earn a D.Phil. at Lincoln College, Oxford.

Glenn Greenwald
# 24
Glenn Greenwald

1967 - Present (54 years)

#869 person's overall influence

Glenn Edward Greenwald is an American journalist, author, and former attorney. He is best known for publishing a series of reports detailing previously unknown information about American and British global surveillance programs. These reports were based on classified documents provided by Edward Snowden.

Anita Hill
# 25
Anita Hill

1956 - Present (65 years)

#2132 person's overall influence

Anita Faye Hill is an American lawyer and academic. She is a university professor of social policy, law, and women's studies at Brandeis University and a faculty member of the university's Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She became a national figure in 1991 when she accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, her supervisor at the United States Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, of sexual harassment.

Hans Kelsen
# 26
Hans Kelsen

1881 - 1973 (92 years)

#5655 person's overall influence

Hans Kelsen was an Austrian jurist, legal philosopher and political philosopher. He was the author of the 1920 Austrian Constitution, which to a very large degree is still valid today. Due to the rise of totalitarianism in Austria , Kelsen left for Germany in 1930 but was forced to leave this university post after Hitler's seizure of power in 1933 because of his Jewish ancestry. That year he left for Geneva and later moved to the United States in 1940. In 1934, Roscoe Pound lauded Kelsen as "undoubtedly the leading jurist of the time." While in Vienna, Kelsen met Sigmund Freud and his circle,...

Randy Barnett
# 27
Randy Barnett

1952 - Present (69 years)

#5626 person's overall influence

Randy Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown University. He earned his B.A. from Northwestern University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a noted scholar in constitutional law and jurisprudence.

# 28
Julius Stone

1907 - 1985 (78 years)

#9974 person's overall influence

Julius Stone was Challis Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law at the University of Sydney from 1942 to 1972, and thereafter a visiting Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales and concurrently Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law at the Hastings College of Law, University of California.

Eugene Volokh
# 29
Eugene Volokh

1968 - Present (53 years)

#5795 person's overall influence

Eugene Volokh is a Ukrainian-American legal scholar known for his scholarship in American constitutional law and libertarianism as well as his prominent legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy. He is the Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law, and is an academic affiliate at the law firm Mayer Brown.

# 30
J. Michael Luttig

1954 - Present (67 years)

#5678 person's overall influence

John Michael Luttig is an American lawyer and a former United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

# 31
David S. Tatel

1942 - Present (79 years)

#5529 person's overall influence

David S. Tatel is an American jurist and a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1994.

# 32
Tony Honoré

1921 - 2019 (98 years)

#9112 person's overall influence

Anthony Maurice Honoré, was a British lawyer and jurist, known for his work on ownership, causation and Roman law.

Richard Goldstone
# 33
Richard Goldstone

1938 - Present (83 years)

#11938 person's overall influence

Richard Joseph Goldstone is a South African former judge. After working for 17 years as a commercial lawyer, he was appointed by the South African government to serve on the Transvaal Supreme Court from 1980 to 1989 and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa from 1990 to 1994.

Harriet Miers
# 34
Harriet Miers

1945 - Present (76 years)

#3500 person's overall influence

Harriet Ellan Miers is an American lawyer who served as White House Counsel to President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. A member of the Republican Party since 1988, she previously served as White House Staff Secretary from 2001 to 2003 and White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy from 2003 until 2005. In 2005, Miers was nominated by Bush to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, but—in the face of bipartisan opposition—asked Bush to withdraw her nomination.

Robert P. George
# 35
Robert P. George

1955 - Present (66 years)

#4380 person's overall influence

Notable conservative American legal scholar Robert P. George currently holds the titles there of McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He has a varied educational background. He completed his undergraduate education at Swarthmore College, earned his JD at Harvard Law School, and earned a master of theological studies at the Harvard Divinity School. He also earned several advanced degrees at the University of Oxford.

Jack Goldsmith
# 36
Jack Goldsmith

1962 - Present (59 years)

#6319 person's overall influence

Jack Goldsmith is a professor of law at Harvard Law School and a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He has earned a B.A. from Washington & Lee University, a B.A. and M.A. from University of Oxford, and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Sadakat Kadri
# 37
Sadakat Kadri

1964 - Present (57 years)

#9106 person's overall influence

Sadakat Kadri is a lawyer, author, travel writer and journalist. One of his foremost roles as a barrister was to assist in the prosecution of former Malawian president Hastings Banda. As a member of the New York Bar he has worked as a volunteer with the American Civil Liberties Union. He has also specialised in freedom of information issues.

Scott Turow
# 38
Scott Turow

1949 - Present (72 years)

#5791 person's overall influence

Scott Frederick Turow is an American author and lawyer. Turow has written 11 fiction and three nonfiction books, which have been translated into more than 40 languages and sold more than 30 million copies. Films have been based on several of his books.

Charles Fried
# 39
Charles Fried

1935 - Present (86 years)

#6041 person's overall influence

Charles Anthony Fried is an American jurist and lawyer. He served as United States Solicitor General under President Ronald Reagan from 1985 to 1989. He is a professor at Harvard Law School and has been a visiting professor at Columbia Law School. He also serves on the board of the nonpartisan group, the Campaign Legal Center.

Sundaresh Menon
# 40
Sundaresh Menon

1962 - Present (59 years)

#6148 person's overall influence

Sundaresh Menon is a Singaporean jurist who has served as the Chief Justice since November 2012. He was formerly Attorney-General from 2010 to 2012 and Judge of Appeal in 2012.

Martha Minow
# 41
Martha Minow

1954 - Present (67 years)

#9606 person's overall influence

Martha Minow is the 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. While at Yale, she served as editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Charles Hamilton Houston
# 42
Charles Hamilton Houston

1895 - 1950 (55 years)

#6005 person's overall influence

Charles Hamilton Houston was a prominent African-American lawyer, Dean of Howard University Law School, and NAACP first special counsel, or Litigation Director. A graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School, Houston played a significant role in dismantling Jim Crow laws, especially attacking segregation in schools and racial housing covenants. He earned the title "The Man Who Killed Jim Crow".

Jack Abramoff
# 43
Jack Abramoff

1958 - Present (63 years)

#2572 person's overall influence

Jack Allan Abramoff is an American lobbyist, businessman, movie producer, writer, and convicted felon. He was at the center of an extensive corruption investigation led by Earl Devaney that resulted in his conviction and to 21 people either pleading guilty or being found guilty, including White House officials J. Steven Griles and David Safavian, U.S. Representative Bob Ney, and nine other lobbyists and congressional aides.

Yong Pung How
# 44
Yong Pung How

1926 - 2020 (94 years)

#7381 person's overall influence

Yong Pung How was a Malayan-born Singaporean banker, judge, and lawyer who served as the next Chief Justice when former Chief Justice, Wee Chong Jin stepped down from the position. Prior to his judicial career, he was a lawyer, banker and senior government official. He was the chancellor of the Singapore Management University between 2010 and 2015.

Lee Bollinger
# 45
Lee Bollinger

1946 - Present (75 years)

#3982 person's overall influence

Lee Bollinger is Columbia University’s 19th president. He earned a B.S. in political science at the University of Oregon and his J.D. from Columbia University’s Law School. He is most noted for his scholarship regarding First Amendment and free speech issues, as well as being a defendant in two major U.S. Supreme Court cases involving affirmative action in higher education admissions.

# 46
Theodor Geiger

1891 - 1952 (61 years)

#6612 person's overall influence

Theodor Julius Geiger was a German socialist, lawyer and sociologist who studied Sociology of Law, social stratification and social mobility, methodology, and intelligentsia, among other things. He was Denmark's first professor of sociology, working at the University of Aarhus .

John Grisham
# 47
John Grisham

1955 - Present (66 years)

#7839 person's overall influence

John Ray Grisham Jr. is an American novelist, attorney, politician, and activist, best known for his popular legal thrillers. His books have been translated into 42 languages and published worldwide.

Douglas H. Ginsburg
# 48
Douglas H. Ginsburg

1946 - Present (75 years)

#5559 person's overall influence

Douglas Howard Ginsburg is an American jurist and academic who serves as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was appointed to that court at age 40 in October 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, and served as its chief judge from July 2001 until February 2008. Ginsburg was nominated by Reagan to fill a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy after the retirement of Lewis F. Powell in October 1987, but soon withdrew from consideration after his earlier marijuana use created controversy.

# 49
Cormac Cullinan
#11865 person's overall influence

Cormac Cullinan is a practising environmental attorney and author based in Cape Town, South Africa. He is a director of the leading South African environmental law firm, Cullinan & Associates Inc, and Chief Executive Officer of EnAct International, an environmental governance consultancy. A former anti-apartheid activist, and a London-based commercial lawyer, he has practised, taught and written about environmental law and policy since 1992, and has worked in more than 20 countries.

Jay Bybee
# 50
Jay Bybee

1953 - Present (68 years)

#8733 person's overall influence

Jay Scott Bybee is a Senior United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He has published numerous articles in law journals and has taught in law school. His primary research interests are in constitutional and administrative law.