People You Didn’t Know Were Lawyers

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My Other Job Is in a Law Office: 10 People You Didn’t Know Were Lawyers

Those with qualifications to practice law don’t always do so. Sometimes they become actors or athletes or even global icons. Here’s a look at 10 people you probably didn’t know were lawyers.

Mahatma Gandhi

School: University College, London

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Day job: Leader of Indian independence movement

Legal life: After studying in Europe, Gandhi returned to India, where his attempts to establish a law practice weren’t fruitful, as he was psychologically opposed to cross-examining witnesses. In 1893, he accepted a one-year post at an Indian firm in South Africa, where he spent the next two decades developing his political ideology.

On the law: “I had learnt the true practice of law. I had learnt to find out the better side of human nature and to enter men’s hearts. I realized the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder.”

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Washington Irving

School: Studied in Europe and passed the bar in New York City

Day job: Author, famous for “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

Legal life: Though by his own admission, he barely passed the bar exam, Irving did manage to write stirring dispatches of the trial of Aaron Burr for the murder of Alexander Hamilton.

Did you know? Irving was the first to refer to New York as Gotham City.

Howard Cosell

School: New York University

Day job: ABC Sports announcer

Legal life: Cosell served as an attorney for baseball star Willie Mays and the Little League of New York. In 1953, an ABC Radio manager asked him to host a show featuring Little League participants. He hosted the show for three years, eventually leaving his legal practice to become a full-time broadcaster.

1: Primetime Emmy nomination for “Monday Night Football”

Fidel Castro

School: University of Havana

Day job: Former president of Cuba

Legal life: Castro’s law career was short-lived. After graduation from law school, Castro co-founded a partnership focusing mainly on poor Cubans. The practice was not financially successful, and Castro soon turned to revolution as his main goal.

Did you know? Before he became a lawyer, Castro also wanted to be a baseball player.

Nelson Mandela

School: University of Witwatersrand

Day job: First black president of South Africa, longtime political prisoner

Legal life: Mandela co-founded Mandela and Tambo, the only African-run law firm in South Africa. After being forced by authorities to move to a new location, the firm’s customer base dwindled and Mandela became more and more involved in politics and revolution.

On perseverance: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Steve Young

School: Brigham Young

Day job: Football player

Legal life: Though Young has never practiced as an attorney, he did complete quite a feat — winning the Super Bowl and completing a law degree in the same year. Young is now a popular NFL analyst on television.

7: Pro Bowl selections

3: Super Bowl championships

Francis Scott Key

School: St. John’s College

Day job: Law was Key’s day job, though he also penned the lyrics to a little-known song called “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Legal life: Key was a successful Maryland attorney for many years. He assisted his uncle, also a prominent attorney, in the conspiracy trial of former vice president Aaron Burr and argued multiple cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. His most famous case was prosecuting Richard Lawrence for attempting to assassinate President Andrew Jackson, the first-ever attempt on a president’s life.

Did you know? Key was known to family and friends as Frank.

David E. Kelley

School: Boston University

Day job: TV writer and producer

Legal life: After law school, Kelley began working for a Boston law firm, where he mainly dealt with real estate and minor criminal cases. He soon became bored with the law practice and began writing screenplays, eventually drawing the attention of producer Steven Bochco, who hired Kelley to write for his hit “L.A. Law.”

10: Primetime Emmys, for multiple series

Harvey Levin

School: University of Chicago

Day job: TV producer, founder of TMZ

Legal life: Levin spent many years as an attorney in the entertainment industry, including reporting on the O.J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles. He went on to host “The People’s Court,” eventually giving up his California bar license. Since 2005, he’s been the managing editor of entertainment news mainstay TMZ.

$15 million: Estimated net worth

Victoria Zdrok

School: Villanova

Day job: Relationship expert and porn actress

Legal life: In addition to a law degree, Zdrok also earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, intending to explore the intersection of the law and psychology by becoming a jury consultant. Shortly after graduation, Zdrok found herself in Playboy magazine as Miss October 1994. She now writes books on sex and relationships.

Did you know? Zdorak was the first Ukrainian student officially permitted to study in the U.S.


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