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Famous Ex-Lawyers: Gerard Butler

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A law unto themselves

Finbarr Bermingham plots the trajectories of three famous ex-lawyers, finding that their legal training may not have been completely in vain

Gerard Butler


Paisley-born actor Gerard Butler obtained a degree in law from the University of Glasgow, where he even served a term as president of the university's law society. After graduating, he joined Edinburgh solicitors Morton Fraser as a trainee, but his legal career was to be short-lived. While doing his training contract, Butler was also a member of a rock band that often gigged on week nights. Fed up with his erratic behaviour and poor timekeeping, the firm washed their hands of Butler two weeks before he was due to qualify.

He has since pursued a mega-successful acting career, suggesting that he rarely sheds tears over his failure in the legal profession. But scattered throughout his CV there are clues as to what type of lawyer he might have made, had things turned out differently. While he's occasionally dipped his toes into the failsafe genre of rom-coms, Butler has become renowned for his leading roles in action movies, usually cast as a powerful, yet sensitive, warrior.

He shot to fame in 300, in which he played the Spartan leader King Leonidas. A master of strategy, Leonidas led 300 Spartan soldiers against the full might of the Persian army, winning the respect of his opponents in return. He played a leading role in Beowulf & Grendel, starring as Beowulf, a Norse warrior out to conquer the villainous troll Grendel. In Law Abiding Citizen, his character, Clyde Shelton, attempts to avenge the murders of his family members. Shelton's tactical battle with the law unfolds like a game of chess and while he ultimately falls victim to his own conniving, his astuteness and foresight is a highlight of the movie.

Based on the many brainy yet bloodthirsty roles he's adopted, we're inclined to think that Gerard Butler could have been a star of the cutthroat world of corporate practice. One of his most recent roles, however, was as a peacemaker. In Ralph Fiennes' adaptation of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, he played Tullus Aufidius, the leader of the Volscian army who admirably extends an olive branch to the title character despite the pair being longstanding enemies up to this point. But an ability to work with your rivals is also essential in brokering big commercial deals, so combined with his aggression and his strategic and leadership skills, we think Butler has the versatility make a successful career in corporate law – as long as he can work on his punctuality.

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Being punctual not only refers to being on time for work or for meetings or appointments whilst at work, but also being ready and prepared on arrival. It involves a degree of commitment to the job role, organization and time management, travel planning, and an awareness or understanding of the importance of being on time and behaving responsibly or professionally whilst at work. Late workers impact negatively on productivity and co-worker morale, particularly for other employees who depend on them or who have to provide cover. It's also a sign of respect. On the downside it can be an attention seeking issue too. From my experience following Gerry's career over the past few years, he appears to like a lot of attention. Yet, feel showing up for his job (acting on set) he isn't all that much late!


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Other than the occasional comment about Gerry being late for an interview, I've never heard anyone say that he is late for work on the set. Everyone has an occasional set-back such as unexpected traffic or misplaced keys, etc. that cause them to be late for something. I think if Gerry were habitually arriving late on the set we would have heard complaints from his costars, directors, etc. Posted Image

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