To Be (an Attorney) or Not to Be (an Attorney)

A look at some unique people you probably didn’t know had a legal education.

I have scoured the Internet and found some interesting personalities that have legal education backgrounds. I am careful to put in the term “legal education” rather than legal “experience” so as to eliminate such classic personalities such as Barry Bonds, Larry Flynt and Sean Hannity. 

I am not a famous lawyer like Harvey Levin (TMZ, People’s Court, etc), Nancy Grace (Dancing with the Stars and some other shows), or Robert Kardashian (O.J. Simpson’s Attorney) so I did not have an opportunity to interview these personalities to confirm the accuracy of the information.  

Most of this information was found by scouring Wikipedia. We will start with our Florida connections first and move on from there.


For people that know me personally, they know I am a huge Denver Broncos’ fan.  My article on whether fantasy football is legal that was published at the start of the NFL season was full of Denver Broncos statements. That is why I am so excited to announce that STEVE YOUNG is first on my list. The reason is because he recently came to the defense of Tim Tebow after the Chicago Bears were “Tebowed” in the fourth quarter.

Steve Young is most famous for his time as the San Francisco 49ers quarterback after he replaced the legendary Joe Montana. I haven’t forgotten that Steve Young played for the Buccaneers in 1985 and 1986. However, based on the Buc’s seasons those years, I thought most readers wanted to forget it. 

Apparently Steve Young graduated from the Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1994. Notably, this would coincide with his NFL MVP season where the 49ers had a 13-3 record and won the Super Bowl. That is impressive.


For baseball fans, I bet you didn’t know that TONY LA RUSSA graduated from Florida State University College of Law. Before the UF fans in the Tampa Bay region start to comment, La Russa graduated from the University of South Florida, so he is still a hometown figure. 

La Russa played professional baseball, mainly in the minor leagues, from 1963 until 1973. He graduated from law school in 1978 and passed the bar in 1980.  Interestingly, he is apparently still “associated” with a law firm in Sarasota. 

Tony La Russa is widely regarded as one of the best managers in baseball history and has managed the White Sox, the Athletics, and the Cardinals. He has been managing since 1979. His time in Oakland was during the “steroid era” where Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were players. 


The most interesting person I found with formal legal education is musician ANDREA BOCELLI.  Andrea Bocelli is often featured on PBS as a tenor, instrumentalist, and over-all amazing talent. He was born with poor eye-sight and became blind at the age of 12. I recently watched his holiday special where he performed with some of the biggest names in the music industry and he simply was amazing. For anyone that is a fan of shows such as “X-Factor,” “American Idol,” “The Voice,” or other singing shows where vocal talent is front and center, Andrea Bocelli is a must-listen. 

Bocelli studied law at the University of Pisa and practiced law for one year as a court-appointed lawyer. Apparently he financed part of his education by playing at a piano bar.  The University of Pisa is located in Tuscany, Italy. For those that are curious, Italy has a common law system of justice that is similar to ours. 


If you haven’t heard of JERRY SPRINGER, then you are a much better person than I am. Springer is famous for his television show, the “Jerry Springer Show” that tackles tough issues such as adultery, jealousy, and paternity in the context of encouraging the destruction of chairs, throwing of shoes, battery, and the occasional “Bleep, you bleep” every 10 seconds.

For whatever it is worth, Jerry Springer earned a law degree from Northwestern University in 1968 and had a short-lived political career before diving into the depths of what is wrong with the human condition. 


Assuming that BEN STEIN has a law degree is not much of a stretch–the man is known for his incredible intellect. He graduated from Yale Law School in 1968 and then became a successful trial attorney, fighting against poverty and later was a law professor at several law schools. What I didn’t know is that his early education schoolmates included Goldie Hawn, Carl Bernstein and Sylvester Stallone. 

To me, Stein is best known for his clear-eyes commercials, his awesome show “Win Ben Stein’s Money” (same concept did not go well for Mitt Romney in a recent debate), and the classic performance in “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.” 


OZZIE NELSON was the star and producer of the “Ozzie and Harriet Show” that aired first on the radio in the 1940s and then transferred to television. While I have never personally watched the show, the show is traditionally as famous as any other during the time-period. We know that Ozzie Nelson went to Rutgers School of Law in Newark, N.J. What I think is most interesting is that Ozzie Nelson treated his show in a similar manner to the movie “The Truman Show” where America literally listened and watched him and his actual family grow up on the tube (we call it the plasma, LCD, or flat-screen now, but I am sure the “tube” is appropriate for the time). 


I thought I would also bring attention to BRANCH RICKEY, who was a lawyer.  However, I have not been able to find any information on his formal legal education.  Rickey was born in 1881, and there was time where lawyers were educated more like an apprentice rather than in a formal legal school. I am not sure if this was case for Rickey, but it would explain the lack of sources citing his formal education. 

I believe Branch Rickey should be recognized as one of the foremost leaders in racial equality as he is largely considered the person responsible for bringing Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball. While the Civil Rights Movement may have been 20 years later, Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey were the forefathers. 

About this column: Each week, we discuss relevant legal issues in your community; the latest legal developments that affect those communities; or answer questions directly from Patch readers. This column is for you, and therefore your comments and questions are highly encouraged. Please send specific legal questions to jts@simonslawfirm.com or www.simonslawfirm.com for potential publication. This column is for informational purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as giving legal advice to the reader, Patch.com, or any other person or entity. This is not a solicitation for business J.T. Simons, P.A., attempts to provide the most recent and accurate information available. However, nothing herein should be construed as a formal legal opinion that can be relied on for any purpose. In other words, absolutely nothing herein should be construed as giving you any legal advice. Please contact an attorney to verify the validity and/or applicability of any legal issue or comment contained herein. Any questions or comments submitted in response to any column, or any communication made to J.T. Simons, P.A. concerning this column, shall not create an attorney-client relationship.


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