10 famous people with a Law degree

From world leaders and sports stars to actors and literary geniuses, the number of instantly recognisable names and faces who hold law degrees is surprisingly higher than you may think.

For some, their studies proved invaluable for their future careers while for others, well, it’s probably fair to say that their careers followed a slightly different path.

Here we take a look at 10 of the most famous people with a law degree:

  1. Mahatma Ghandi: University College London – After passing the bar in 1891, Ghandhi practised law for several years until he became the leading figure in India’s independence movement in British-ruled India that succeeded in 1947. He was assassinated the following year.
  2. Fidel Castro: University of Havana – Upon graduation Castro was admitted to the bar and even ran his own law firm before, gaining a reputation for bringing cases against the then government. Nine years later he would become Cuba’s Prime Minister and latterly President – a role he held from 1976 to 2008.
  3. John Grisham: University of Mississippi School of Law – The man who penned the legal thrillers The Firm, Runaway Jury and The Pelican Brief among others practised law for around 10 years before taking up writing as a full time career and selling almost 300 million books to date.
  4. John Cleese: University of Cambridge – Sadly there is no footage of the man addressing a courtroom, because he never actually practised law although we can only imagine what he may have been like. Instead, he co-founded a comedy troupe called Monty Python, which by all accounts did rather well.
  5. Gerard Butler: University of Glasgow – After leaving university Butler headed east along the M8 to work for a law firm in Edinburgh – trouble was that he wasn’t particularly good and got fired a week before qualifying. So he opted for a career in the movies instead.
  6. Jerry Springer: Northwestern – The man who closes each show by urging everyone to “be good to each other” was actually born in London and started his law career after serving as political aid to Edward Kennedy. His interest in politics saw him change career to become a political journalist before being offered his own radio show and the rest, as they say, is history.
  7. Nelson Mandela: University of South Africa (whilst still in prison) – Despite starting his law degree at an entirely different university, it wasn’t until he was incarcerated, and some 20+ years later, before Mandela completed his studies – just a few months before his release from prison. Today, the office Mandela and his partner Oliver Tambo shared in Johannesburg is now being converted into a museum to celebrate its role as the very first black law practice in South Africa.
  8. Henri Matisse: Le Cateau-Cambrésis – Matisse never set out to become an artist, it happened purely by chance. The story goes that he studied law to appease his father but when he was struck down with appendicitis, his mother brought him oil pants to ‘give him something to do’. Seems he was rather good at painting and instantly quit the law and enrolled at art college.
  9. Andrea Bocelli: University of Pisa – To help pay his way through law school, Bocelli would sing in local piano bars to keep the pennies coming in. Like Matisse he soon found his artistic side was more of a pull and within a year of graduating from Pisa he took up singing as a full time career. He has since sold 80 million albums worldwide, so he’s done OK for himself.
  10. Julio Iglesias: Complutense University, Madrid – The father of Enrique and famed for claiming to have slept with over 1,000 women, Julio Iglesias is another who studied but didn’t practice law. Instead, he balanced an early career between being a footballer for one of Spain’s second division clubs and being a singer. Following a car crash that left him unable to walk for two years he was left with two career choices – the law or singing. He chose the latter and has since gone on to sell over 400 million records (although we struggled to name one!).