Elle Woods proved that law students don’t all have to be “ugly and boring and serious.” But even before Legally Blonde, some of these celebrities were hitting the books in prestigious law libraries before turning to exciting careers in TV, film, and sports. Keep reading for 11 surprising celebrities who went to law school (note: they didn’t all graduate), despite their previous or ultimate career choices.
- Jerry Springer: For someone who turned daytime TV talk shows into an often-violent and arguably obscene farce, it’s hard to imagine him hard at work in law school. But Jerry Springer graduated from the prestigious Northwestern University School of Law in 1968, and gave the commencement address in 2008.
- Julian McMahon: Actor Julian McMahon — who starred in Charmed, Nip/Tuck and films like Fantastic Four, was born into a more serious type of family — his father was Prime Minister of Australia in the 1970s. McMahon attended the University of Sydney law school, although he dropped out to star in an Aussie primetime TV show called The Power, the Passion.
- Kevin Hagen: Probably best known for his role on Little House on the Prairie, actor Kevin Hagen also appeared on many iconic TV shows in the 1950s and 60s, like Mission: Impossible, Gunsmoke, Perry Mason and Knots Landing. Well-educated before he got into acting, Hagen attended Oregon State University, the University of Southern California, and a year at UCLA law before working for the U.S. State Department in West Germany. He turned to acting at age 27.
- Jerry O’Connell: The guy who played a belching college boy in Can’t Hardly Wait is off to law school. Jerry O’Connell — who also has some more respective roles under his belt — enrolled in Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles in 2009. Tired of dad duty as wife Rebecca Romijn worked on her TV show, O’Connell just figured it was time to find something to do.
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Author of painfully insightful and lyrical books like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez first studied law. He attended the University of Cartagena and Bogota’s National University before leaving to pursue a career in journalism.
- Justin Deaber: MTV’s The Real World: Hawaii was one of the most popular, dramatic and rambunctious seasons of the reality show. Ruthie had to go to rehab, Amaya was a bit two-faced, Kaia didn’t believe in shirts, and Justin Deabler was exceedingly judgmental. At the time, he was a student at Harvard Law, and ended up leaving the house. We thought Harvard law kids were supposed to be more mature.
- Hill Harper: Award-winning TV actor Hill Harper has impressed audiences and critics with his performances on shows like CSI: NY. And it might just be his background in law that’s helped him succeed on the police drama. Harper graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, and also has a Master of Public Administration degree from the same school.
- Marv Levy: Legendary football coach — and current motivational speaker — Marv Levy was a master athlete in college. After graduation, he enrolled in law school, but dropped out three weeks later to work as an assistant football coach at Iowa’s Coe College.
- Vince Lombardi: Vince Lombardi also picked football over the legal profession, but not without giving law school a try. The coach who led the Packers to five NFL championships graduated magna cum laude from Fordham University (where he was also a football star) — took night classes at law school while working in finance during the day. He quit both to teach high school football in New Jersey and eventually returned to his alma mater in 1947 to coach.
- Samuel S. Hinds: One of the most successful actors in the 1930s and 40s, Samuel S. Hinds is best known today for playing Jimmy Stewart’s dad — Peter Bailey — in It’s a Wonderful Life. But before racking up roles in 214 films, Hinds graduated from Harvard Law School and actually worked as a lawyer until he turned to acting at the age of 54.
- Greg Raymer: Poker champ Greg Raymer won the main event at the 2004 World Series of Poker, and all that strategy and reasoning probably paid off in law school, too. Raymer graduated with a master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and also graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School, working as a patent lawyer.
February 14th, 2011
By Jamie Davis