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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 2000 – 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).

Brian Leiter
# 2
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
# 3
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.

Erwin Chemerinsky
# 4
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.

John Yoo
# 5
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.

Ronald Dworkin
# 6
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

Laurence Tribe
# 7
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.

Alex Kozinski
# 8
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.

Glenn Greenwald
# 9
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.

Navanethem Pillay
# 10
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

Cass Sunstein
# 11
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.

John Finnis
# 12
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.

Jack Goldsmith
# 13
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.

Eric Posner
# 14
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.

Sadakat Kadri
# 15
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.

Jeremy Waldron
# 16
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.

Jeffrey Toobin
# 17
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.

Eugene Volokh
# 18
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.

Jack Balkin
# 19
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.

# 20
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.

Eugene Kontorovich
# 21
Eugene Kontorovich

1975 - Present (46 years)

#17937 person's overall influence

Eugene Kontorovich is a legal scholar specializing in maritime piracy and universal jurisdiction.

David M. Smolin
# 22
David M. Smolin
#9646 person's overall influence

David Mark Smolin is a professor of law at Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama where he is the Harwell G. Davis Chair in Constitutional Law, director for The Center for Children, Law, and Ethics, former director of the Center for Biotechnology, Law, and Ethics, and faculty advisor for the Law, Science and Technology Society.

Jay Bybee
# 23
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.

# 24
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.

Hina Jilani
# 25
Hina Jilani

1953 - Present (68 years)

#15528 person's overall influence

Hina Jilani , is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and a human-rightss activist from Lahore in Punjab, Pakistan.

Guido Calabresi
# 26
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.

Harriet Miers
# 27
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.

Jack Abramoff
# 28
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.

Martha Minow
# 29
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.

Lee Bollinger
# 30
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.

Randy Barnett
# 31
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.

Richard Goldstone
# 32
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.

Rosalie Abella
# 33
Rosalie Abella

1946 - Present (75 years)

#14707 person's overall influence

Rosalie Silberman Abella is a Canadian jurist. In 2004, Abella was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, becoming the first Jewish woman to sit on the Canadian Supreme Court bench.

Ajit Pai
# 34
Ajit Pai

1973 - Present (48 years)

#631 person's overall influence

Ajit Varadaraj Pai is an American lawyer who serves as Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission .

# 35
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.

Robert P. George
# 36
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.

Nikolay Alexeyev
# 37
Nikolay Alexeyev

1977 - Present (44 years)

#37136 person's overall influence

Nikolay Alexandrovich Alexeyev is a Russian LGBT rights activist, lawyer, and journalist.

Sundaresh Menon
# 38
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.

Richard J. Leon
# 39
Richard J. Leon

1949 - Present (72 years)

#3352 person's overall influence

Richard J. Leon is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Michael Posner
# 40
Michael Posner

1950 - Present (71 years)

#24194 person's overall influence

Michael Posner is co-director for the Center of Business and Human Rights and professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, and the founder of Human Rights First, a non-profit international human rights organization. He earned a B.A. at the University of Michigan and his J.D. at the University of California, Berkeley’s Law School.

# 41
Michael I. Sovern

1931 - 2020 (89 years)

#12084 person's overall influence

Michael Ira Sovern was the 17th president of Columbia University. Prior to his death, he served as the Chancellor Kent Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He was a noted legal scholar of Labor Law and an expert in employment discrimination.

Ann Coulter
# 42
Ann Coulter

1961 - Present (60 years)

#1907 person's overall influence

Ann Hart Coulter is an American far-right media pundit, best-selling author, syndicated columnist, and lawyer.

John Grisham
# 43
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.

David D. Cole
# 44
David D. Cole

1958 - Present (63 years)

#4746 person's overall influence

David D. Cole currently holds the title of National Legal Director of the American Civil LIberties Union, which he began in 2016. Outside of this, Cole has been known as a professor of law, a civil rights and first amendment advocate, an author of books and articles in various legal fields, and a legal correspondent in the media.

Amy Chua
# 45
Amy Chua

1962 - Present (59 years)

#8870 person's overall influence

Amy Chua is the John M. Duff Jr. Professor of Law at Yale University’s School of Law. She earned her A.B. in economics from Harvard College and a J.D. from Harvard University. She was an executive editor for the Harvard Law Review - the first Asian American to hold such a role for the publication.

Yochai Benkler
# 46
Yochai Benkler

1964 - Present (57 years)

#3680 person's overall influence

Yochai Benkler is co-director and faculty for the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, as well as the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. He earned his LL.B from Tel-Aviv University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

# 47
Kathleen Sullivan

1955 - Present (66 years)

#14790 person's overall influence

Kathleen Marie Sullivan is an American lawyer and name partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, a global, litigation-only white shoe law firm headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Based in the firm's New York City office, Sullivan chairs its national appellate practice group. She is the first and only female name partner at an Am Law 100 law firm. Previously, Sullivan served as Dean of Stanford Law School, where she was the Stanley Morrison Professor of Law.

# 48
Armin von Bogdandy

1960 - Present (61 years)

#29728 person's overall influence

Armin von Bogdandy is a German legal scholar. He is director of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg and Professor for Public Law at the Goethe University Frankfurt. Armin von Bogdandy’s research centers on the structural changes affecting public law, be they theoretical, doctrinal, or practical.

# 49
Michael W. McConnell

1955 - Present (66 years)

#10897 person's overall influence

Michael William McConnell is a constitutional law scholar who served as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit from 2002 until 2009. Since 2009, McConnell has served as a professor and Director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School. He is also a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and Senior Of Counsel to the Litigation Practice Group at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. On 6 May 2020, Facebook appointed him to its content oversight board.

Scott Turow
# 50
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.