Top 10 Celebrity Lawyers in the U.S. - Federal Lawyer
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Top 10 Celebrity Lawyers in the U.S.

celebrity lawyers

One of the great things about earning a law degree is that it allows you to pursue a variety of different career paths. Even if you don’t ultimately decide to practice law, going through the process of earning a law degree affords the opportunity to develop invaluable skills and insights that can serve you wherever your career journey takes you.

For many people, earning a law degree has appeal for other reasons as well. In many cases, people—including celebrities, as we’ll see below—decide to go to law school after realizing that they have an opportunity to help other people or make meaningful change in society. In short, lots of people go to law school for lots of reasons, and some of them turn out to be (or already are) celebrities in the entertainment industry.

10 Celebrities Who Are Also Lawyers

So, who are some of the most famous celebrities you know who are also lawyers? Here’s a list of 10 celebrity lawyers (or celebrities who have at least earned their law degrees) in the U.S.:

1. Gemma Chan

Justia.com reports that Gemma Chan is a celebrity lawyer. Born in England in 1982, Chan became a true Hollywood star when she featured in 2018’s blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians. Since then, she has appeared in multiple Marvel movies, including starring as Sersi in 2021’s The Eternals.

Before starting her acting career, Chan studied law and obtained her law degree from the University of Oxford Law School in England. While she isn’t using her law degree as a lawyer today, she still credits her law degree with her success, telling the Huffington Post in 2019, “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 . . . . But, it does come in handy with learning lines ― and reading my own contract.”

2. Steve Young

Steve Young is one of the most famous quarterbacks in the history of the National Football League (NFL). This makes him a celebrity by any measure, but until recently he was also one of the faces of ESPN’s Monday Night Football, further elevating his celebrity status.

But, did you know that Steve Young is also a lawyer? While guiding the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl victory in 1994 (and earning MVP along the way), Young was also studying to earn his law degree at Brigham Young University’s (BYU) Reuben Clark Law School. While Young has (understandably) never found time to pursue a legal career, he has reportedly used the skills gained from his legal education both in his football career and as Chairman and Co-Founder of the private equity firm HGGC. According to HGGC’s website, Youn is also the broadcast host for the Children’s Miracle Network, “which has raised over one billion dollars world-wide to benefit children’s hospitals.”

3. Gerard Butler

While Gerard Butler was born in Scotland, he has long been a Hollywood star—and, as one of the few famous people to actually have a background practicing law, he certainly deserves a spot on this list. As Vogue reports, Butler “earned a place at the University of Glasgow School of Law, later taking a position as a trainee lawyer in Edinburgh.”

However, Butler’s legal career was short lived, as “[n]ot long after . . . he moved to London to pursue an acting career.” This move would eventually lead him to Hollywood, where he would become famous for starring in movies including 300, How to Train Your Dragon, and Olympus Has Fallen.

4. Jerry Springer

Jerry Springer rose to fame through the syndication of his “tabloid talk show,” The Jerry Springer Show, which aired for 27 seasons from 1991 through 2018. He passed away just five years later at the age of 79.

Before becoming a celebrity and household name on The Jerry Springer Show, Springer earned his law degree from Northwestern University outside of Chicago—and had a lengthy and notable legal career. He worked on Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1968, subsequently joined the Cincinnati City Council, then served as mayor of Cincinnati about a decade later from 1977 to 1978. In between, he practiced law at the law firm of Frost & Jacobs (now known as Frost Brown Todd), and was even a partner in his own law firm, Grinker, Sudman & Springer, from 1973 to 1985.

5. Rebel Wilson

Rebel Wilson is another foreign-born star who deserves a spot on this list as a result of rising to fame in the United States. While she is best known for appearing in the Pitch Perfect movie series and other Hollywood hits such as Bridesmaids and How to Be Single, Wilson also has a law degree from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

According to Vogue, Wilson was eyeing a career as a lawyer before she became a celebrity—telling the publication that she “thought [she’d] become an excellent lawyer or politician,” and “was sort of grooming [herself] to go into that kind of career. But, her legal ambitions proved to be short-lived, as she booked her first significant role three years after graduating and never looked back.

6. Geraldo Rivera

Like Jerry Springer, Geraldo Rivera earned his celebrity as a daytime TV host after a first career as a lawyer. Rivera earned his law degree at the Brooklyn School of Law, and subsequently worked for the National Lawyers Guild and Community Action for Legal Services in New York. He also represented the New York City Chapter of the Puerto Rican activist group Young Lords, and spent time as a lawyer in private practice.

The Geraldo Rivera Show was on television from 1987 to 1998, and during that time Rivera became one of the most well-known TV hosts in the United States. He would go on to host other shows such as Geraldo at Large and serve as a correspondent for outlets including Fox News.

7. Hill Harper

Hill Harper is another U.S. celebrity who pursued acting after law school instead of deciding to become a lawyer. As reported by Justia.com, Harper graduated from Harvard Law School in 1992, but then promptly went into what would become a multi-decade film and television acting career. Harper’s credits include playing lead roles on CSI: New York and The Good Doctor, as well as appearing in movies such as All Eyez on Me.

Harper is also a cancer survivor, and he has used his celebrity status to help raise awareness about thyroid cancer and its causes, risks, and effects. He was in the process of writing his book, The Wealth Cure: Putting Money In Its Place, when he was diagnosed, and he subsequently went on to serve on the President’s Cancer Panel.

8. Rudy Guiliani

Rudy Guiliani’s celebrity status is irrefutable, though he has faced significant criminal allegations in recent years. After graduating from the New York University (NYU) School of Law, he served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, during which time he led the federal government’s prosecution of New York’s mafia bosses. He subsequently served as New York City’s major, leading the city’s response to the 9/11 terror attacks and earning the title of Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2001.

Guiliani would later serve as a member of Donald Trump’s legal team, acting as one of Trump’s closest advisors for several years. However, he would eventually find himself facing several lawsuits and indictments related to his alleged role in Trump’s attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

9. Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli has been stunning audiences worldwide with his voice for more than 30 years. But, before he became a worldwide superstar, he earned his law degree at the University of Pisa in Italy and spent a year as a court-appointed lawyer.

10. Barack Obama

Vogue calls Barack Obama, “[p]erhaps the celebrity of celebrities with law degrees.” Obama earned his law degree at Harvard Law School, where he also served as the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. Of course, he would then go on to become the 44th president of the United States, tying with Dwight D. Eisenhower for the second-highest approval rating (behind Bill Clinton) according to The American Presidency Project.

After leaving the Oval Office in 2017, Obama would continue to grow his celebrity status. Along with making several late-night TV appearances, Obama also narrated Netflix’s Our Great National Parks documentary series, among others. He also taught constitutional law for over a decade. However, one thing he is no longer doing is practicing law. As reported by Reuters, Obama is currently listed as “Retired” by the Illinois State Bar Association.

Contact the Lawyers at Oberheiden P.C.

Oberheiden P.C. is a team of highly skilled lawyers and consultants who represent celebrities, politicians, professionals, business owners, and other clients across the United States and around the world. If you would like to speak with one of our lawyers regarding matters from criminal law to business deals, you can call 888-680-1745 or contact us online to arrange a complimentary initial consultation with one of our attorneys. 

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