subscribe to our newsletter sign up
Changing Channels: Lawyers who switched from the top tier to television

Changing Channels: Lawyers who switched from the top tier to television

Comparisons between the courtroom and the stage have often been made: spellbinding oratory, dramatic entrances, intricate stories and memorable characters - not to mention wigs and props. But…

Comparisons between the courtroom and the stage have often been made: spellbinding oratory, dramatic entrances, intricate stories and memorable characters - not to mention wigs and props. But despite the similarities, leaving a career in law for more creative pursuits is no small feat. Stephanie Quine asks three ex-lawyers, now soliciting laughs and penning on-screen drama, about their journey out of the courtroom and into the limelight.

It is often said that people are either analytical or creative creatures and not much common ground can be found between the two. But it seems that the analytical lawyer and the creative entertainer do indeed share something: an appetite for words and a desire to persuade.

This is certainly the case for James O'Loghlin whose roles -- as a corporate hot shot at Blake Dawson, a criminal lawyer at Legal Aid, a stand-up comedian and as a television and radio host -- have certainly taught him a thing or two about playing to an audience.

His ability to have people laughing one minute and thinking critically the next has made him a popular corporate performer and host of television and radio shows across Australia. In his live comedy show Lawyer Lawyer, O'Loghlin reflected on his eight-year journey "stumbling through the system" of corporate and criminal law until finally finding the right place.

For Andrew O'Keefe, the son of former Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales Barry O'Keefe and brother of well-known international lawyer Roger O'Keefe, his decision to abandon the legal profession might have been considered an unusual one.

But the entertainer, best known for hosting the hit game show Deal or No Deal, followed his instincts and left legal logic behind for showbiz. Formerly an intellectual property lawyer at Allens Arthur Robinson, O'Keefe remembers fondly the camaraderie of law firms and still actively advocates for causes such as the elimination of violence against women.

Fifteen years ago, Jane Allen's life as a lawyer at Slater & Gordon was very different to the one she has now. Her desire to pursue a career as a screenwriter has taken her all to the way to the writers' department of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in Los Angeles, where she worked with a former FBI serial killer profiler and was taught to shoot a handgun by a retired CSI investigator. Her new career now boasts production credits in Blue Heelers, Stingers, The Secret Life of Us, MDA, McLeod's Daughters, Neighbours and Home and Away.

For O'Loghlin, O'Keefe and Allen, leaving the law behind has been both a challenge and a reward.

Click on the images below to find out why some Australia's most noted entertainers took the leap from law to the land of showbiz:

Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network