Artists Who Escaped Their Lawyer Pasts

Lawyers, a class to which this editor once belonged, are a sad lot. It’s not just that the work is boring and the hours long. It’s also that everyone hates you, as a recent survey attests. It named lawyering the “most despised profession in America.” But never fear, lawyers! A long and proud history of midlife career-changers prove that you can move up in the world — to the fourth-most-despised profession: artist. Here follow some great arts professionals who narrowly escaped the grip of the law.


John Cleese, member of Monty Python, studied law at Cambridge. Per an interview he gave to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross in 1997: “I probably would have stuck to my original plan to graduate and become a chartered accountant, perhaps a barrister lawyer, and gotten a nice house in the suburbs, with a nice wife and kids, and gotten a country club membership, and then I would have killed myself.”