1. John Cleese
Though he’s best known as TV’s most entertaining innkeeper, John Cleese got his start in acting in a most unusual setting. It was while studying law on a scholarship at Cambridge University that Cleese began his career in comedy and acting when he joined the university’s amateur drama club, Footlights. Cleese had planned to complete his degree and become a barrister but his humble plans were thwarted by a little show called Monty Python (you may have heard of it). While Cleese never practised law, we think it’s no coincidence that his only Oscar nomination is for A Fish Called Wanda in which he played a barrister.
2. Andrew O’Keefe
The best lawyers are good negotiators. And any negotiation ends in one of two ways: Deal or No Deal. O’Keefe’s negotiating prowess was first honed when he studied law at the University of Sydney. Unlike Cleese, O’Keefe went on to practise law at Australian law firm Allens Arthur Robinson, now Allens Linklaters. Andrew isn’t, however, the only O’Keefe in the legal industry with brother, Roger O’Keefe practising as an international lawyer and late father, Barry O’Keefe, being a former Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
3. Jerry Springer
Another skilled negotiator that joins the list is Jerry Springer. Springer attended Northwestern University and graduated with a JD in 1968. After a short detour with a run in Democratic Politics, Springer turned to television and the notorious sensationalist creature that is The Jerry Springer Show, where members of the public invite Springer into their lives and families to resolve disputes. Though The Jerry Springer Show doesn’t apply a standard family dispute resolution format, 3,981 episodes worth of resolutions are surely evidence that the law degree wasn’t wasted.
4. 4/5 Chasers
The second half of our list is evidence of the fact that you don’t finish law school without a sense of humour. Chas Licciardello, Craig Reucassel, Julian Morrow and Dominic Knight of the The Chaser’s War on Everything all hold law degrees from the University of Sydney Law School. Perhaps it’s the Chaser’s knowledge of the law that lent them the nerve to test the limits of the law. Who can forget the infamous stunt the team pulled during the 2007 APEC summit where Licciardello managed to make it past APEC security dressed as Osama Bin Laden. While only Morrow was arrested, the incident is unlikely to be the kind of close encounter with the law that the team envisioned in law school.
5. Rebel Wilson
Closing our list is aspiring rapper and Hollywood sensation, Rebel Wilson. Inspired by TV classic, Ally McBeal, Wilson took on a combined arts and law degree at the University of New South Wales. In just six years, Wilson has gone from law graduate to international movie star but still finds that from time to time her law degree comes in handy. When she was starting out in Hollywood, Wilson often negotiated her own contracts, surprising those who were familiar only with her comedic talents. Wilson hopes to get back in the legal field, so to speak, and star in her very own courtroom drama.