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14 Celebrities who studied law

| Career Insights

From Political figures to TV stars, these familiar faces have in common with us the Legists : Law.

Gemma Chan
Can one person have glamour, cinematic talent, and legal ambition all at once? The former fashion model and English actress, Gemma Chan, is living proof of that possibility. With a law degree from Oxford University, the actress rejected a training contract from Slaughter and May in aims of pursuing her (clearly successful) acting career. She even went on to admit that having to memorise countless cases made learning scripts a walk in the park.
Shahrukh Khan
“King of Bollywood” or ‘King Khan” are just some of the words you may associate with this phenomenal actor. While the word “economist” would be a more accurate way to describe him, he does also hold honorary doctorates from an array of universities, including the University of Law in Philanthropy. As part of his law-related activities, Khan became known for his advocacy for women and children’s rights as well as his Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE).
Kim Kardashian
Always asked about what exactly is it that she does, American model and TV personality Kim Kardashian will soon be able to add lawyer to her response after taking her bar exam in 2022. When asked about this career move, she responded in saying that “there is nothing that should limit your pursuit of your dreams”.
Hill Harper
“The Skulls” actor initially studied economics and sociology at Brown University before obtaining an honours law degree from Harvard. Another interesting fact is that President Obama was one of his classmates. In February 2016, the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law made Harper the national spokesmen of the organisation. Through that, he worked to advocate access and safeguard to the right to vote at the 2016 presidential election. He currently acts in the CBS drama Limitless and starred on the CBS TV drama CSI.
Julio Iglesias
The Spanish singer began his law journey at the CEU San Pablo University in Spain, due to the urging of his father. During his studies, he had an unfortunate car accident, leaving him paralysed for 3 years. It was only then that he learned to play the guitar, therefore discovering his musical talent. He completed his law degree years later in 2001, following his success in the music industry.
 

Gerard Butler
Charming, talented, and intelligent are no foreign ways to describe Gerard Butler. Not only was he head boy at high school, but he also managed to get a law degree at the University of Glasgow. As a matter of fact, his pursuit of an acting career only came as a result of being fired from being a trainee at an Edinburgh firm, as he revealed while on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Apparently sometimes you just need to get fired from a job to launch your destined career path.

Mahatma Gandhi
Before his involvement in civil rights movements and infamously leading India to independence, the Indian activist pursued a law education at University College London. After passing the bar, he began practising law in Bombay. In Charles R. DiSalvo’s book Gandhi’s legal education The Man Before Mahatma, Di Salvo almost completely attributes Gandhi’s legal background to his success as an activist. DiSalvo claims that Gandhi was terribly shy; his stage fright made it impossible to present cases at the start of his career. It is said that he once had to withdraw from a case because “he was too nervous at court”. It was only during his time in South Africa that he began overcoming his fear. Soon enough, he could spontaneously get on his feet and give speeches that lasted over two hours.
Nelson Mandela
A truly remarkable life was led by the former South African President, Nelson Mandela. He managed to surpass all expectations as he fought for and witnessed the end of apartheid in his country. When nobody in his family has been to school, nevertheless university, he managed to earn a bachelor of law degree from the University of London and consequently mentored his fellow prisoners, persuading them to yearn for better treatment though non-violent resistance. Moreover, in 1952, he opened the country’s first black law firm, offering those affected by apartheid legislation pro bono legal counsel.

John Cleese
Known as the comedic actor from Monty Python, Cleese is a law graduate from Downing College in Cambridge, England. While completing his legal education, he wrote plays and sketches that paved way to his admittance into the college’s drama club.
 

Andrea Bocelli
The extraordinary Italian singer, Andrea Bocelli, came to discover his love for music while singing at piano bars in attempt to earn money during his legal studies at the University of Pisa. After graduating and practicing law for a year, he chose his love for music over his legal career, making the world forever grateful for his choice.
Rebel Wilson
Acknowledged for her comedy films, Australian actress Rebel Wilson’s fame was preceded by a legal education at the University of New South Wales. The actress reportedly made use of her law degree at the start of her acting career by negotiating her own contracts!

Howard Cosell
Before being known for his sports broadcasting for ABC, Cosell was a practicing lawyer for a while, with a degree from New York University School of Law. During his time as a lawyer, he frequently spent time at the sports field, following the New York Yankees, offering lunch on the law firm’s account. He event went far enough as to file out a few New York Giants’ stars’ liquor licences applications. Soon enough, he became known for offering free legal work to executives from baseball circles.

Geraldo Rivera
Known for being a TV host and Fox News regular, Geraldo Rivera was fortunately discovered by Eyewitness News executives in 1969. His career path in media was not always what he envisioned, as he was a law student at Brooklyn Law School, where he finished as one of the top five in his class. During his time at university, one of his projects was dealing with the anti-poverty neighbourhood law firms. He was then called to the New York Bar Association in 1970.
Fidel Castro
The monumental Cuban political figure did not acquire his leftist anti-imperialist tendencies out of the blue. It was his legal education at the University of Havana that inspired them, therefore bringing about multiple rebellions under his communist governing as prime minister and finally his presidency.
 
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