Lawyers take the helm

With the inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris on January 20, 2021, the United States will once again be led by a team of lawyers.  In the case of Joe Biden, he practiced law in Wilmington, Delaware from 1968 to 1972 immediately after law school, including a stint as a Public Defender.  On the other hand, Kamala Harris has a much longer track record in the law.  After graduating law school from Hastings College in 1989, Harris worked as a prosecutor (deputy district attorney) in Oakland, California from 1990-94.  In 1994, she became the District Attorney.  In 2010, Harris was elected California Attorney General where she served until elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Obviously, the President being a lawyer is certainly not a rare thing.  If you include Biden, 27 of the 46 Presidents had at some point in their life practiced law.  However, only 7 Presidents actually graduated law school, the rest “read the law” (i.e. studied under a practicing lawyer) to qualify to take the Bar:  Rutherford Hayes (Harvard), William Howard Taft (University of Cincinnati), Richard Nixon (Duke), Gerald Ford (Yale), William “Bill” Clinton (Yale), Barack Obama (Harvard), and now Joseph Biden (Syracuse).

The Vice President is a little harder to trace.  According to my research, I have found approximately 32 of the 49 Vice Presidents have practiced law.  This includes Vice President Michael “Mike” Pence who graduated law school from Indiana University Robert McKinney School of Law in 1986.  Pence practiced law while making two unsuccessful runs for Congress in 1988 and 1990 until he eventually became a radio talk show host in 1994.

As for President and Vice-President lawyer-teams, there have been about 18 of them.  Besides Biden-Harris, recent ones includes Obama-Biden and Clinton-Gore.  The most recent Republican lawyer-team was Nixon-Ford and Nixon-Agnew.