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11 Celebrities Who Didn't Make It Through Law School

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

Last week we looked at the many celebrities who graduated law school, from Gerard Butler to Jerry Springer. But for every budding actor, singer, and talk show host who made it through three years of law school, there are plenty of famous men and women who said, simply, "Screw this!" and dropped out.

They're hardly failures, either. Famous law school dropouts include Supreme Court Justices, Presidents (lots of Presidents), and some of the world's most famous movie stars.

Celebrity Drop Outs

1. Gene Kelly -- Before singing in the rain -- and becoming one of America's most successful movie stars ever -- Kelly attended law school for a full two months. Kelly was briefly a student at University of Pittsburgh School of Law before deciding to pursue dancing full time.

2. Carly Fiorina -- This contender for the GOP presidential nomination spent a semester at UCLA School of Law. Fiorina dropped out to become a receptionist and then an English teacher before turning to a career in business and, eventually, politics.

3. Benjamin Cardozo -- There's a law school named after this Supreme Court Justice, but before he became one of the country's most famous jurists, he quit law school. 'Dozo attended Columbia Law School when a J.D. was still a two year degree. When the school wanted to require a third year, Cardozo said "no thanks." He didn't get a J.D., but still passed the bar. He went on to do alright for himself.

4. Harper Lee -- One of many lawyers' favorite writers, Lee attended the Alabama School of Law but never graduated. She went on to write "To Kill a Mockingbird," a novel which inspired many attorneys to pursue a career in law.

5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- Garcia Marquez, a Colombian novelist and Nobel Prize winner known for popularizing Magical Realism, once pursued a very unmagical career -- law. Garcia Marquez studied law at the National University of Colombia in the 40s, but gave up his studies to work as a journalist.

6. Demetri Martin -- You might remember Demetri Martin as the mop-haired standup comedian once common on the Daily Show and other late night T.V. He still has a career, but it's definitely not a legal one. Martin dropped out of NYU Law, giving up a full scholarship, in order to pursue comedy.

7. Seymour Hersh -- Hersh is an investigative journalist most famous for revealing the My Lai Massacre and abuses as Abu Ghraib. He's also an ex-law student, having attended Chicago Law School. Hersh is unique on our list because he didn't just drop out, he flunked out.

8. Vince Lombardi -- Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi studied at Fordham law's night program for a year before dropping out. He went on to coach the Green Bay Packers and win the first two Super Bowls ever (the trophy is now named after him).

9. Ray Manzarek -- While Manzarek isn't a household name, his bandmate Jim Morrison certainly is. Manzarek studied law at UCLA for a full two weeks before realizing his mistake. He switched to cinematography, met Morrison, and the two went on to found The Doors together.

Bonus: the Sociopaths

10. Ted Bundy -- One of America's most famous serial killers was almost a lawyer. Bundy attended law school at the University of Puget Sound, outside of Seattle. He stopped attending classes just as young women began disappearing from the area.

11. Bernie Madoff -- Before Madoff defrauded clients of nearly $65 billion in the world's largest Ponzi scheme, he briefly attended Brooklyn Law School. Madoff dropped out to found his own Wall Street firm and the rest is history.

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