Order in the court! Rebel Wilson, Gerard Butler and more stars tried their hand at studying and practicing law before they made it big in Hollywood.
Before solidifying his place among some of the hottest names in the movie industry, Butler held a high position in the law society at his Scottish university. After graduating from the University of Glasgow with honors in 1992, he fell into a fellowship with a prestigious law firm in Edinburgh before eventually following his heart and pursuing an acting career.
In October 2018, the Angel Has Fallen star revealed on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert that he spent a combined seven years preparing to become a lawyer. “Just the right amount of time to mess it all up,” Butler joked at the time.
Wilson, for her part, attempted to balance out the two pathways she dreamed of following while studying at the University of New South Wales in Australia. The Isn’t It Romantic actress reflected on her experience studying law while also being a working actor during a May 2019 appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden.
“I’ve never practiced [law] for money,” Wilson explained at the time. “A law degree is five years total and I was already on Australian television by, like, year two. I play a lot of dumb characters so people were very confused about what I was doing in the contract law exam … But it took me so long to get into law school, you have to study really hard, so I thought I may as well finish it even though I was already kind of famous.”
While some stars followed through on their extensive studies until the very end, others found the study a little too challenging. Rashida Jones had lofty ambitions of becoming a lawyer while she was a student at Harvard University, but admitted to The Independent several years later that she lost faith in the law during the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial in the 1990s.
“He got off and I couldn’t believe it,” the Angie Tribeca star explained in February 2014. “I thought what’s the point of spending the next eight years in school if the justice system is that broken?”
Scroll down to see which celebrities have pursued and obtained law degrees!
Before earning the role of King Leonidas of Sparta, Butler was the president of the law society at the University of Glasgow. After graduating with honors in 1992, the Scotsman secured a spot at a top law firm in Edinburgh until he finally decided to chase his Hollywood dreams.
In 1965 he graduated from Tulane University with a political science degree, and three years later he earned a law degree from Northwestern University’s School of Law. Springer’s political studies led him to complete a brief stint as mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, before becoming a staple of daytime talk TV in 1991.
Long before becoming a beloved starlet of the big screen, Wilson graduated from the University of New South Wales with a B.A. in theatre and performance studies and a Bachelor of Laws. The Australian native told USA Today in 2015 that she made her pivot to acting “after hallucinating she won an Oscar during a bout of malaria in Africa.”
While he was studying at the University of Pisa, Bocelli’s parents wanted him to pursue the field of law. Bocelli performed in local piano bars to earn a little extra cash before graduating and becoming a court-appointed lawyer. When he got his big break in the music industry in the early 1990s, Bocelli left the law — and never looked back.
The Crazy Rich Asians actress earned a law degree from Oxford University and was surprised to learn that her rigorous studies were helpful in her transition to acting. “It is quite helpful with the memorization. I had to learn about 2,000 cases by heart, so I am fairly good at learning scripts quickly. On the whole, it is quite a different part of the brain: Law is very analytical, and acting is more instinctive and emotionally driven,” Chan told Modern Luxury in March 2019. “But it does come in handy with learning lines ― and reading my own contract.”
The beloved Monty Python actor attended law school at Downing College of Cambridge University, where he met his future comedy writing partner Graham Chapman. He graduated with his degree in 1963.
After his successful career as a child actor, the Goonies star decided to put his studies first. Cohen earned a J.D. degree from the UCLA School of Law in 2000 and cofounded the Cohen & Gardner firm in Beverly Hills two years later.
Another actor-turned-attorney, the Wonder Years alum majored in political science at Yale University and graduated in 1998. After working as a paralegal for two years, Saviano earned a J.D. degree from Yeshiva University and was admitted to the New York bar.
The former Fox News personality scored her degree from the Albany School of Law in 1995 after completing undergrad at Syracuse University. While reflecting on Bombshell, a film adaptation of her broadcast news experience, Kelly remembered the hard work she did to get to her position at the network. “I was offered partnership at Jones Day, one of the best law firms in the world. I argued before federal courts of appeal all over the nation,” she said in January 2020. “I graduated with honors in all of my programs.”
Rivera studied at the Brooklyn School of Law and graduated at the top of his class in 1969. He later consulted for a number of organizations, including the lower Manhattan-based Community Action for Legal Services and the National Lawyers Guild, before being offered a role as a broadcast reporter with ABC.
The Parks and Recreation alum attended Harvard University with the intention of becoming a lawyer — but later admitted to The Independent that she had a change of heart after watching the infamous O.J. Simpson case unfold in the 1990s. She eventually graduated from the Cambridge institution in 1997.
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