Don McGahn Widener University Law School, 1994. As White House Counsel, Don McGahn is the top lawyer at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., overseeing matters such as judicial nominations. But before his White House gig and his stints at Jones Day and the Federal Election Commission, McGahn got his J.D. at Widener. He followed up with an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2002.
Benjamin Brafman Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law, 1974. This high-profile criminal defense lawyer has been very busy of late. He is representing disgraced former Miramax head honcho Harvey Weinstein against rape charges, he's represented so-called “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli against securities fraud charges. The Brooklyn-bred lawyer has also represented former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Khan and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. He was back at Ohio Northern in 2014 to deliver the law school’s commencement speech.
Marcia Clark Southwestern Law School, 1979. A Los Angeles Times headline from 1994 declared that, “Simpson Trial Puts Southwestern on the Map.” It goes on to say that numerous members of the team that prosecuted O.J. Simpson for murder had ties to the school. In addition to Clark obtaining her J.D. there, Christopher Darden was an adjunct at the time of the trial and joined the faculty fulltime shortly after Simpson was acquitted.
Dan Rather South Texas College of Law—Houston. OK, this one is a bit of a cheat. But we couldn’t resist the opportunity to remind people that Rather, the veteran CBS anchorman, briefly attended South Texas before his journalism career went big time. Alas, he never graduated, not that the lack of a J.D. slowed his career. Still, South Texas awarded Rather an honorary degree in 1990.
Lisa Murkowski Willamette University College of Law, 1985. Murkowski has represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate since 2002, and she’s getting a lot of attention from Democrats who are lobbying the pro-choice lawmaker to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination on the grounds that he would imperil abortion rights. Murkowski’s path to public service began after law school, but it took a few years to get there. Amid her 2010 reelection campaign, it surfaced that she took the Alaska bar exam five times before passing.
Kimberly Guilfoyle University of San Francisco School of Law, 1994. Guilfoyle has been in the spotlight in recent weeks. The former Fox News host is dating Donald Trump, Jr. amid his high-profile divorce. And she left Fox News this month to join America First policies, a pro-Trump Super PAC. But days after that move, news surfaced that Guilfoyle was pushed out of Fox for sexual harassment—namely showing pictures of male genitalia around the workplace.
Doug Jones Samford University Cumberland School of Law, 1979. Doug Jones stunned the country last year when he defeated prominent Republican Roy Moore to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate. He’s the first Democrat Alabama has sent to the Senate since 1992. Jones is no stranger to his alma mater. He served as the keynote speaker at Cumberland’s inaugural Advocacy Benefit this spring.
Donald Sterling Southwestern Law School, 1960. We’re back at Southwestern, where former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling got his law degree. Sterling began his career as personal injury lawyer but really made his mark (and fortune) in the world of Los Angeles real estate. Sterling bought the struggling San Diego Clippers in 1981, but was forced to sell the team—now in L.A.— in 2014 after his mistress released secret recordings in which he made racist comments about black people.
John Cornyn St. Mary’s University School of Law, 1977. U.S. Senator John Cornyn got an LL.M from the tony University of Virginia School of Law in 1995, but his legal career kicked off at San Antonio’s St. Mary’s. Cornyn served on the Texas Supreme Court and as the Lone Star State’s Attorney General before getting elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002. He currently serves as the Senate Majority Whip.
Michael Cohen Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, 1991. We’ll end where we began—with the embattled Michael Cohen, who is under investigation for a myriad of issues, including his work as Trump’s longtime “fixer.” According to the New York Post, Cohen has been known to tell people he went to law school “in Michigan,” implying he went to the prestigious University of Michigan Law School, ranked No. 8 by U.S. News.
Perhaps you’ve read the recent headlines trumpeting that Michael Cohen—President Trump’s former personal lawyer now embroiled in his own legal troubles—is a graduate of “the worst law school in the country.” That’s a reference to Cohen’s alma mater, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, from which he received his J.D. in 1991.
Now, we’re not weighing in on whether or not Cooley is the nation’s worst law school, but it got us thinking about other big names who went to low-tier schools. We combed through alumni from the 50 or so law schools that currently land in the unranked tier of U.S. News & World Report’s closely watched rankings. It turns out those campuses are pumping out plenty of future judges, state and federal lawmakers, and business leaders. Here is a sampling of names you’ll probably recognize.