Five Child Stars Turned Lawyers


Actor Jerry O’Connell (the fat kid from Stand By Me) stupefied the legal community last month with his decision to enroll at Southwestern Law School as a deterrent to playing video games.

While O’Connell has his wife (hot, successful model Rebecca Romijn) to rely on if studying torts doesn’t work out, he’s simply the most recent in a long line of former child stars who applied their youthful charisma (and post-puberty looks) towards careers as lawyers. Here are some others.

Josh Saviano

Undergrad: Yale
Law School: Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ‘03
Firms Worked: Morrison Cohen LLP
How You Knew Him Best: He played “Paul Pfeiffer,” or simply “Pfeiffer,” on The Wonder Years.
What’s He’s Doing Now: Let’s clear something up. Josh Saviano did not grow up to become Marilyn Manson. Snopes put that rumor to rest years ago. So what is Saviano up to? Well, after graduating, he became an associate at Morrison & Cohen in New York, where he specializes in IP.

Lara Jill Miller

Undergrad: New York University
Law School: Fordham University School of Law ‘94
Firms Worked: Passed the Bar Exam in NY, NJ & PA, but no specific firms listed
How You Knew Her Best: She was “Samantha Kanisky,” the plucky tomboy who played opposite Nell Carter on Gimmie a Break!

What She’s Doing Now: While working briefly for a Manhattan law firm, being recognized by potential jurors during voir dire inspired Miller to return to acting, which she did in 1999. But you likely haven’t seen Miller’s face on the small screen. Instead it’s her voice that brings home the bucks these days. She’s worked for animated shows on Nickelodeon, Disney and PBS. She even keeps an official site.

Sheila James Kuehl

Undergrad: University of California at Los Angeles
Law School: Harvard Law ‘78
How You Knew Her Best: Here’s one for the old-timers out there. Sheila James worked on a lot of television shows in the ‘50s and ‘60s, including guest-starring roles on The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, The Beverly Hillbillies, and McHale’s Navy. But she’s probably best known for her portrayal of “Zelda Gilroy” on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
What She’s Doing Now: For starters, she’s no longer known by her stage name, Sheila James. Instead, she’s known as Sheila Kuehl. Kuehl served six years in the California State Assembly and eight years in the California State Senate. Kuehl, who was the first openly gay woman to serve in the California legislature, is now a member of the state’s Integrated Waste Management Board. Previous to her career in politics, she was a law professor at Loyola Los Angeles, UCLA and USC Law Schools and co-founded and managing attorney of the California Women’s Law Center.

Charlie Korsmo

Undergrad: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Law School: Yale Law ‘06
Firms Worked: Sullivan & Cromwell
How You Knew Him Best: The first time you saw Charlie Korsmo, it was probably in 1990 as the dirty, crime-fighting kid opposite Warren Beatty in Dick Tracy. A year later, you should have seen him play Richard Dreyfuss’ son in the underappreciated Bill Murray movie What About Bob? If you saw the Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle Can’t Hardly Wait (which, admit it, you have) then you got a glimpse of a more mature Korsmo as a nerdy high-school kid.
What He’s Doing Now: Would you believe that Korsmo is teaching at Brooklyn Law School? Well, he is. Korsmo will be a visiting professor at Brooklyn Law for two years, according to the school’s website.

Isaac Lidsky

Undergrad: Harvard

Law School: Harvard Law ‘04
Firms Worked: Jones Day
How You Knew Him Best: As “Weasel” on Saved By The Bell: The New Class. Of course no one could live up to the original recipe, so the show didn’t last all that long. Lidsky, whose character was supposed to fill the shoes of Dustin Diamond’s “Screech,” only has one other credit to his name. But luckily Lidsky didn’t have to try to imitate Diamond’s work for very long. (Interesting fact: Lidsky’s co-star on The New Class was Natalia Cigliuti, who Bitter Lawyer interviewed in July. She now plays a Brooklyn public defender in TNT’s Raising the Bar.)
What He’s Doing Now: While acting wasn’t Lidsky’s bag, his legal career is award worthy. He clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor before she retired. Lidsky, who is the first blind clerk at The U.S. Supreme Court, also worked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Legal career aside, here’s Lidsky hanging out in the Cubs’ dugout promoting Hope for Vision:

Addendum and Oversight: Jeff B. Cohen

An oversight as big as “bullet holes the size of matzo balls” is Jeff B. Cohen. He played “Chunk” in the classic movie Goonies. Now the UCLA Law grad is the “Cohen” of entertainment law firm Cohen & Gardner, LLP. LawShucks wrote a profile on him on 7.20.09—thanks for mentioning.]

Can’t get enough of child stars, lawyers or not? Check out journalist Joal Ryan’s blog. Ryan regularly covers child stars gone bad for E! and other outlets, and she helped with some key background information for this list.

Bitter Staff is a collection of current and former editors, contributors, and various other lawyers who have written for Bitter Lawyer over the years. Posts include interviews, contests, and other general lawyerly and bitter content.

27 Comments

  1. Lawyer Bob

    September 11, 2009 at 6:31 am

    The Wonder Years was crap. Go back and watch it. Doesn’t hold up at all. Gimmie A Break, that’s another story. Nell Carter was the bomb.

  2. Anonymous

    September 11, 2009 at 7:09 am

    That’s crap.  The Wonder Years was brilliant.  Saved By The Bell, The New Class however………  Poor Mr. Belding.

  3. Lawyer Bob

    September 11, 2009 at 7:30 am

    I try not to think about what those bastards did with saved by the bell. that was dreadful. But seriously, as a guy who LOVED the wonder years when it was on, it really does not hold up. sad, but true.

  4. Anon

    September 11, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Great piece, guys.  Genius.

  5. KateLaw

    September 11, 2009 at 8:48 am

    I mean, I wouldn’t say this piece was genius…

  6. Patty Hearst

    September 11, 2009 at 8:54 am

    genius and hero. two most over-used words in the English language. What have happened to good. this piece is just good. no more, no less.

  7. Anon

    September 11, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Let me clarify to Ms. Hearst and Katelaw.  First off, stop e so literal.  Yes, I agree, it’s not genius in the pure sense of the word.  Ya got me.  Call the cops.  What I do think is genius (using the more lax, street slang version of said word ) is the fact they actually did a piece on this topic.  The actual content and artistic value of the piece is not genius—but the mere fact that they thought of doing this and did it, to me is genius.

  8. Law Shucks

    September 11, 2009 at 9:27 am

  9. BL1Y

    September 11, 2009 at 9:55 am

    It’s definitely genius when compared to the idea of just reposting an article done a year ago and just adding “It’s okay to talk about the economy, but don’t dwell on it.”

  10. Jerome

    September 11, 2009 at 10:06 am

    BL1Y, if you don’t like what they’re running, why don’t you submit something. CLEARLY, you’ve got time on your hands.

  11. KateLaw

    September 11, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Anon –I didn’t really take it literally -I was basically just trying to say that I found the piece kind of boring & not entertaining (although that guy from Can’t Hardly Wait is pretty funny all grown up).  However if anyone is looking for genius, read Philalawyer’s latest post where he dives into the awesomeness that is Neil Young… that was great.

  12. BL1Y

    September 11, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Jerome: Why would I want to read something I wrote?

  13. Jerome

    September 11, 2009 at 11:06 am

    BL1Y, it’s not all about you. Put up or shut up already.

  14. Seriously

    September 11, 2009 at 11:18 am

    BL1Y wrote: “Why would I want to read something I wrote?” Honestly, the real questions is why would we want to read it?

  15. Duder

    September 11, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Hostile crowd in herrrrre today

  16. Anonymous

    September 11, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Haaaaaaappy Friday!!

  17. Anon

    September 11, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Katelaw: I guess we just disagree.  Is that Neil Young?  No, Dave Mason.  Anyway… I enjoyed the piece.  Is that so wrong?

  18. Lady lawyer

    September 11, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Read and enjoyed.  Thank goodness these actors went on to educate themselves and not landing in rehab like a lot of the young today.  I would give the piece an A-.

  19. Anonymous

    September 11, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    nice piece. enjoyed it 2.

  20. Southern Law

    September 11, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    i liked it, too. not sure why this place turned into a war zone. don’t hate, ya’ll.

  21. Anonymous

    September 11, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    how could they forget about chunk? all alone with sloth and that baby ruth. no love for the fat man, i guess.

  22. Meg

    September 12, 2009 at 6:17 am

    how about the girl from the babysitters club series who played Stacey? she’s a lawyer in NY now!

  23. Lady lawyer

    September 13, 2009 at 9:29 am

    No she is not ugly.  If she knew your Anon’s real name, she would sue your ass.

  24. Anonymous

    September 13, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    5 more child stars screw up their lives.

  25. rebecca

    September 17, 2009 at 1:06 am

    very interesting

  26. Lindsay T

    January 24, 2012 at 5:48 am

    These kid are doing rather tough as far as I understand. I bet it’s a hard thing to realise that you are not that famous and popular like you used to be before.
    http://freeavitomp4converter.com/

  27. Pingback: Actores que eran feos y ahora son guapísimos | Paty Cantú

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