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In a magazine article, talk show host Rosie O’Donnell announced a while back that she is considering a career change. More specifically, she is contemplating closing down her television talk show and going to law school. As you wipe away the coffee you just sprayed across your monitor and keyboard, you are probably asking yourself why O’Donnell, making lots of cash talking to people on TV and appearing in movies, would even consider spending three years going to class and carrying around and reading those really heavy books (or at least the convenient not-so-heavy commercial outlines of such books). Really, isn’t it the dream of almost every lawyer to leave the practice of law and do something fun and interesting — something like what O’Donnell now does? It’s hard to understand why she is interested in becoming a lawyer. It’s hard to understand why she is interested in doing what we do. O’Donnell seems to have things backwards. Doing it the other way around, going from the law to the talk show, is the road more traveled. Exhibit A is Brooklyn Law School graduate Geraldo Rivera. Exhibit B is Jerry Springer, Northwestern Law School class of 1968. Going from law school to talk show seems to make a lot of sense. Doing what O’Donnell wants to do, on the other hand, seems to make little sense. Her interest in attending law school is not only perplexing to attorneys but it also creates a dilemma for the general public — especially lawyer-watchers and talk-show-watchers. That dilemma is this: Which is preferable — one more lawyer and one less talk show host or one less lawyer and another talk show host? You see the dilemma, don’t you? O’Donnell has yet to graduate from college. She left Boston University one semester short of fulfilling all the requirements needed for an undergraduate degree. Instead, she became an entertainer. Now, her stated reason for attending law school is her desire to do something about the laws governing foster care which, she says, are in pretty bad shape. As she said in the magazine interview, “I’m going to work really seriously to try to change foster care legislation in America. It’s sort of in shambles.” For that reason alone, we should all support O’Donnell’s quest for the J.D. Plus, she is likely to end up doing what she says. I say this because she is unlike those of us who had similarly noble reasons for attending law school, but then lost interest sometime during the second semester of our first year. She already has the money. And money was the thing that made most of us forget about working for Greenpeace or Legal Aid. REASONS ABOUND There are other reasons for us to support O’Donnell’s enrollment. She may come to influence the profession the way she has influenced the entertainment industry — and other things. For example, you may have heard that O’Donnell has been enlisted to relaunch the venerable women’s magazine McCall’s. It will be known as Rosie’s McCall’s. Now wouldn’t Rosie’s American Lawyer be a much more interesting read than the current version? Still, O’Donnell should be warned. Life in the law will be different for her. I, The Rodent, have a bit of insight into this particular matter. This insight comes from reading some of O’Donnell’s personal email — by accident, of course. You see, she has an e-mail address similar to mine. Her address is based on her initials and, presumably, her production company: Rosie O’Donnell Entertainment — a.k.a. RODent. My e-mail address, is [email protected] As a result, I occasionally receive misaddressed e-mails. I pass them along, but, being a well-trained corporate attorney, I first read them to make sure there are no typographical errors. I don’t want to reveal anything relating to this personal correspondence, but O’Donnell does receive a lot or requests for favors from young girls and elderly women. As a lawyer, I get a lot of the same from the latter but none from the former. One last thing to remember if O’Donnell closes down her television talk show and decides to go to law school: She will no longer get to sit there in her big chair, telling people when they can be on, when they can talk and when they have to leave. Well, at least she won’t be in that position until she finishes law school, practices for a few years and gets appointed to the bench. If that happens, she’ll be able to do all those things again. The Rodent is a syndicated columnist and author of “Explaining the Inexplicable: The Rodent’s Guide to Lawyers.” His e-mail address is [email protected]

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