Top Ten Celebrities who Studied Law

Considering Law for your undergraduate education? These celebrities’ fascinating and varied careers show that it can lead to many great things!

10. Bob Mortimer

Who’d have thought that the sublimely ridiculous Bob Mortimer had the academic smarts to rival his comic genius? Mortimer started his adult life pursuing a Law degree at the University of Sussex, moving on to gain his LL.M at the University of Leicester, before joining the legal team of Southwark Council. It was during this time that he was introduced to his future writing partner Vic Reeves. Vic and Bob have enjoyed much success as a comedy double act creating shows such as the Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, and Shooting Stars.

Bob Mortimer
© Duncan Hull / flickr

9. Henri Matisse

Despite becoming a prominent figure during the Fauvist Movement of the early twentieth century, Matisse was not always heading down the art route. In 1887 he went to Paris to study Law and soon after begun work as a court administrator. The story goes that when he fell ill with appendicitis his mother bought him a painting set during the recovery period. He later said, “From the moment I held the box of colours in my hands, I knew this was my life.”

Henri Matisse
© Troels Myrub / flickr

8. Jerry Springer

Having earned a Law degree from Northwestern University, Springer went to work on Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Despite this stint ending in tragedy, Springer bounced back to enjoy some success in local politics, becoming the mayor of Cincinnati in 1977. Springer later turned to broadcast journalism and you know the rest – “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry…!”

Jerry Springer
© Justin Hoch / flickr

7. Julio Iglesias

The old Spanish crooner had a brief stint in Law. Whilst studying the subject in Spain, Iglesias was involved in a car accident leaving him paralysed for three years. During this time, he taught himself the guitar and discovered a natural talent for music. In 2001, after a hugely successful career in the music industry Iglesias returned to higher education and completed his Law degree.

Julio Iglesias
© Julio Iglesias / Wikimedia Commons

6. Rebel Wilson

Rebel Wilson’s meteoric rise to fame was preceded by a Law education at the University of New South Wales. Although she now appears in Hollywood blockbusters such as Bridesmaids and the Pitch Perfect series, Wilson is quoted as finding her Law degree useful in the very early days of her career: “When I first started, I did negotiate a lot of my own contracts.”

Rebel Wilson
© Raffi Asdourian / flickr

5. Fidel Castro

Despite becoming a monumental figure in world politics it’s fair to say that Castro had rather humble beginnings; he was the illegitimate son of a Cuban farmer. Castro studied Law at the University of Havana, where he developed leftist anti-Imperialist tendencies. Several rebellions and a revolution later, Castro found himself as the President of Cuba, a position he held until 2008.

Field Castro
© Marcelo Montecino / flickr

4. Gerard Butler

Head boy at high school and then a Law student at the University of Glasgow, it’s fair to say that Gerard Butler is an academic talent as well as a Hollywood giant. Following his undergraduate education, Butler became a trainee lawyer at an Edinburgh firm. He got fired from that gig one week before qualifying, prompting his relocation to London to pursue an acting career – and aren’t we glad he did.

Gerard Butler
© Gordon Correll / flickr

3. John Cleese

Cleese studied Law at the University of Cambridge but as it turned out it wasn’t his academic efforts that had a lasting impression on him. It was his time with the Cambridge Footlights, an amateur theatrical club, which would form the foundations of a successful career. After university, Cleese took his show, A Clump of Plinthsto the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – the rest is history.

John Cleese
© Bruce / flickr

2. Mahatma Gandhi

Born in India in 1869, Gandhi pursued a Law education all the way over in the UK at University College London. After a few years in London, Gandhi passed the bar and began practising Law in Bombay. After some years in the Law profession he became heavily involved in civil rights movements, first in Africa and later back in India, where he led the country to independence.

© Dun.can / flickr

1. Nelson Mandela

Born to a South African tribe, nobody would have predicted such great things for Nelson Mandela. In fact, Mandela was the first in his family to go to school, let alone university. It was in 1943 that Mandela began his Law studies at the University of Witwatersrand, paving the way for a rather interesting life. Mandela fought for and saw the end of apartheid in South Africa, becoming the country’s president in 1994.

Nelson Mandela
© White House Photograph Office, Clinton Administration / Wikimedia Commons

See the Law: Subject league table • Subject guide to studying • Course chooser