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Friday, September 19, 2008

Counterquiz (Interesting Non-Law Stuff You Can Do With a Law Degree)

Having gotten a whopping 0% on the NYU Law Professors quiz questions posted by Matt Bodie, I can’t resist the temptation to make myself feel better by posting another quiz to which I already know the answers (or at least I’m pretty sure I do).

Each of the following entries describes a law degree recipient (or recipients) who decided to take a career path atypical for those with a J.D. degree (or its equivalent). 10 points to Gryffindor (or whatever house you’re in) for each one you get right:

1. The writer-producer responsible for the TV shows Picket Fences, Ally McBeal, Boston Public, The Practice, and Boston Legal (law degree from Boston University)

2. The former lead singer of Midnight Oil – and current Australian Labor Party MP and Minister for Environment, Heritage, and the Arts (law degree from University of New South Wales)

3. Astronomer who demonstrated the existence of galaxies outside the Milky Way, created a system for classifying them, and discovered a law to calculate how eager they are to get away from us (law degree from Oxford)

4. The seven Major League Baseball managers (four of them already in the Hall of Fame, and another who probably will be) who have had legal training and/or J.D. degrees (respectively from Columbia, Cornell, University of Cincinnati, Michigan, Washington University, Northwestern, and Florida State University).

5. The author of “Holes” and “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” (J.D. from Univ. of Texas?).

6. The acclaimed wizard who went on to become the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Wizardry. After a brief career as a litigator, he decided to try a different tack at defending us all from the Dark Arts (J.D. from The University of Chicago) (Note: J.K. Rowling hasn’t revealed this yet but I’ve figured it out from a close reading and re-reading of the seven Harry Potter books. There’s simply no other explanation for some of the things that are said and done there).

Please remember this information when providing your reputational scores to the US News & World Report ranking machine.

Answers after the jump:

1. David E. Kelley

2. Peter Garrett

3. Edwin Hubble

4. John Montgomery Ward, Huey Jennings, Miller Huggins, Branch Rickey, Muddy Ruel, Jack Hendricks, and Tony LaRussa

5. Louis Sachar

6. Albus Dumbledore

Posted by Marc Blitz on September 19, 2008 at 05:46 PM in Culture | Permalink


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Although sometimes the law degree is at least publicly (even if not accurately) taken as a qualification or enhancement for some jobs. That law degree is part of Tony LaRussa's genius reputation. George Will, in his early-'90s book "Men at Work" (which profiled LaRussa, among others), spent a lot of time talking about LaRussa's legal education and how it affected his thought processes and his approach to managing.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Sep 22, 2008 11:29:28 AM

A. above stole the comment I was going to make. In its stead, I snark thusly: Dumbledore clearly went to Chicago back when it was properly rigorous, and didn't take any silly poverty classes.

Posted by: Jason W. | Sep 21, 2008 10:35:36 PM


I'm assuming what you mean by "despite a law degree," is that the law degree wasn't a qualification for being a lead singer in a rock band, children's books author, baseball manager, or astronomer. It was at best a detour along the way that just distracted each of these people from whatever their true calling.

That's probably right in almost every one of these cases. The only exception is David E. Kelley. He might well have been a talented TV writer and producer even without the law degree, but his legal training and experience clearly helped him as a writer on LA Law (where I believe he got his start as a TV writer) and on all of the other shows which -- apart from Boston Public -- were largely (if not primarily) about law and legal battles. The legal training also served as a good back-up career skill for some of the baseball managers/players after they were done with Major League Baseball: I believe John Montgomery Ward, Hughie Jennings, and Muddy Ruel all practiced law and Muddy Ruel even argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Posted by: Marc Blitz | Sep 20, 2008 1:49:39 PM

That's an interesting list, but is there a good reason to think this isn't a list of things you can do despite a law degree?

Posted by: Jim G | Sep 20, 2008 12:48:27 PM

Whatever. I thought it was pretty obvious Dumbledore went to NYU, but I guess that's the kind of bs literary "analysis" you get from out of touch academics.

Posted by: A Reader | Sep 19, 2008 7:04:22 PM

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