What if you went to law school but decided not to be a lawyer?  Even people who put themselves through the many extra years of schooling sometimes end up changing their minds. That’s the case with many of these celebrities on this list, who ditched their law degrees in favor of other well-publicized pursuits. Here are eight examples.

Jerry Springer. After he obtained his law degree from Northwestern University, Springer got a job working on Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign. After Kennedy was assassinated, Springer signed with a law firm in Cincinnati and later enjoyed some success in local politics, becoming the mayor of Cincinnati in 1977. Eventually he turned to broadcast journalism and the rest, as they say, is history — “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry…!”

Geraldo Rivera. He was one of the top five graduates in his Brooklyn Law School class. As the lawyer for a Puerto Rican activist group called the Young Lords, Rivera caught the eye of an Eyewitness News executive who offered him a job, thus beginning his career in journalism.

Gerald Butler. He was a law student at the University of Glasgow and, after graduating, became a trainee lawyer at an Edinburgh firm. Fortunately for Hollywood, he was fired one week before qualifying, prompting his pursuit of an acting career.

John Cleese. Better known as one of the funniest men in the history of comedy, his many cinematic and television endeavors in the acting industry tend to overshadow the fact that he graduated with a law degree from the University of Cambridge. Alas, he never set foot in a courtroom, preferring to pursue a career in the arts after graduation.

Rebel Wilson. Her sudden rise to fame was preceded by a law education at the University of New South Wales. And though she now appears in Hollywood blockbusters such as Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect, she openly claims that having a law degree has helped her review
her contracts.

John Grisham. He is one of only three writers to ever sell over 275 million copies of his work worldwide — the other two being Tom Clancy and J.K. Rowling. And while he originally planned to be a tax lawyer, early struggles in his law classes persuaded him to pursue criminal law instead. Observing the heart-wrenching rape case of a young girl inspired him to write A Time to Kill.


Steve Young.
When was the last time you met a lawyer with three Super Bowl rings? This former NFL star played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the San Francisco 49ers, and is also the great-great-great grandson of Brigham Young, the founder of Brigham Young University.

Howard Cosell. Best known as a sports broadcaster for ABC, but before that, he had a brief career as a lawyer. Cosell enrolled in the NYU School of Law after WWII where he earned his law degree. A few of his notable clients included Willie Mays and the New York Little League.