George Uelman, in this law review article, asks "Who is the Lawyer of the Century?"
The "death penalty" lawyers ranked Gerry Spence and Johnny Cochran above Edward Bennett Williams. I wonder what, if anything, the "death penalty lawyers" knew about Williams. The Arizona lawyers did a better, although they ranked Spence ahead of Williams.
Law students, proving they are more interested in television than the tomes of the masters, each put Cochran and F. Lee Bailey and Leslie Abrahams (?) ahead of Williams, since they didn't list Williams at all! Bailey, incidentally, ranked Williams the best lawyer of all time. Anyhow, judging by law students' selections, the future of the criminal defense bar looks bleak.
One person not making anyone's list was Max Steuer, whom some consider the second or third greatest criminal lawyer in history. Irving Younger - conspicuously absent from the survey - and Francis L. Wellman - who knew something about cross-examination - considered Steuer to have been the greatest cross-examiner who ever lived.
I guess the moral of the survey is that we should not learn anything about dead trial lawyers. Instead, we should admire the ones we see on TV. Because, if they're on TV, they must be the best.
(Via the Illinois Trial Practice Weblog).