Jerry O'Connell Explains Decision to Enter Law School

08/30/2009 at 08:00 PM ET

Celebrities often vow to alternate their work commitments in order to always have one full-time parent at home with the kids, but Jerry O’Connell is putting his time (and money!) where his mouth is.

When news first broke that the 35-year-old actor had enrolled in Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, it seemed a surprising choice. Speaking to Celebrity Baby Blog on Saturday night at the Much Love Animal Rescue’s third annual summer fundraiser Bow Wow WOW Howlywood!, however, Jerry said that it was his 8-month-old twin daughters Dolly Rebecca Rose and Charlie Tamara Tulip who sparked his detour from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.

“I’m taking the next while off because my wife [actress Rebecca Romijn] is working on Eastwick. I’m not going to be working for the next eight months because we agreed that one of us would be with the kids.”

Citing the “pretty long hours” Rebecca will be working, Jerry feels that now is “a good time” for law school. “I’ve always planned on going,” he shared before noting, “It’s just night school.” Joking that he “better not fail out now” because “people will make fun,” Jerry says that the public pressure is motivating him “to study hard and get good grades.” One thing is for certain: PEOPLE’s Babies ’09 issue earned high marks from the proud papa, who exclaimed,

“What a great little piece your magazine did for myself and my two little girls. It was so cute. It was so cute.”

— Missy with reporting by Sara Hammel

FILED UNDER: Exclusive , Multiples , News , Parenting

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Fergette on

Good for him! Best of luck in Law School.

Mrs. R. on

seriously, I could not love this guy anymore, and then he goes and enters grad school? What an awesome guy! He was a child actor, and he went to college which I give him a lot of credit for, and now he’s going to law school too? That’s awesome. He is such a genuine person.

Bieta on

Ummm “its just night school?”. Law School takes up PLENTY of time whether its day or evening classes. My mum went to a prestigious law school at night and its just as tedious. Maybe I misundersood is comment but the ‘just’ threw me off.

Stella on

As someone who is currently in law school….if you take it even slightly seriously, it is WAY more demanding than a full-time job. I only have classes Monday-Wednesday and maybe around 12 hours of classes for the entire week yet I spend easily 60-70hours per week doing the work and studying needed for those classes. He is definitely in for a rude awakening if he plans to actually aim for any sort of decent grades. Don’t get me wrong, I wish him all the best and think law school is a grand move but if he wants to be in law school, he needs to learn how to reason better ASAP.

ab on

I just love this couple and their adorable little girls! They seem like genuine people who have a great relationship and a fun positive outlook on life! Why not do what you want to do in life! Good luck in law school, Jerry! Looking forward to seeing Rebecca on Eastwick!

Emily on

I took the it’s just night school comment to mean that he meant he would still be at home in the day, or even just noting that he is just doing the night part. He didn’t sound like he thought law school would be an easy ride or anything. I think any kind of school when you have kids to juggle as well would be difficult, as annoying as I find them a lot of the time, I don’t know how mature students with families do it!

john on

Jerry best of luck. You of all people must know that more than hard work it requires a mindset focused on success that is even more important to achieve success either in Hollywood or law school.
Great to see someone putting their family first.

Tessa on

Stella I completely agree, i’m at law school too, and absolutely cannot imagine doing it with 2 little babies at home, he’s a brave man, it’s so much work!

Mari on

I think he’s just joking around with the remark about ‘just’ night school. I would think that he knows how much work it’s going to be.

And he seems to have his priorities straight – he’s a darn good father to those adorable little girls.

Angel on

Good for him. I love this guy!

Lauren on

Im with Stella on this one. Right now im in pharmacy school, so im pretty familiar with long study hours. Even if you have 5-6 classes a semester, you will easily spend 8-10 hours a day studying outside of class, its pretty much a full time job with 20 hours of overtime.

Mariasha on

The point is, that you can do the studying at home and don’t have to be on a set for 10 or more hours a day. I think that was meant with the “just” comment.

Some people should try to not jump at every comment and get offended. Seriously, some act as if they were being personally criticized.

Chris on

Good for him! At first I thought he was going as training for a movie role or something.


Stella: Are you serious? What kind of gunner are you? I am top 1/3 of my class at highly-ranked law school and if I spend 10 hours per week on any class, it’s a LOT.

Most people I know do about the same I do. Show up for class, go out at least one night during the week & on the weekends, and study a bit between the end of classes and exams. I suppose if your law school is more cutthroat, it may be different. However, if you go to a cutthroat law school, then you made a horrible decision.

SweetDiva on

How about just applauding someone who is learning for the sheer enjoyment of learning? Clearly he doesn’t need to do this for a career, but he’s setting an excellent example for his daughters about education.

noam on

i briefly considered being a lawyer, and at the schools i looked at, night school was scheduled differently. they didn’t follow the same quarter system as the rest of the school, so it was like one and a half the length of a day class (in terms of weeks). so maybe he’s just taking one or two classes with that program. it doesn’t seem like he’s itching to get into a courtroom right away, so he may be taking his time with it…

Kate on

I graduated in 2002 from a 1st tier school, and with that experience, I say good for him, even with 2 babies at home.

Kim on

Why on Earth would he want to go to law school? Obviously they don’t need the $$ and good luck trying to get a job in this market. Law firms have been laying off lawyers in droves. I say enjoy those babies instead…

Hea on

I think he’s in for quite the surprise…

MZ on

Kim, I think it’s just for the experience of doing it. If I had endless time and money I would get degree after degree just because I enjoy learning. He’s got the resources so why not do it?

Courtney on

I really like him! Seems like a great dad. My husband is just went back to school ( for engineering, not law) and its alot of work he only goes from 8-12:30 M-th but there is ALOT crammed into those hours. He spends alot of free time studing. There have been many nights recently with dad and 3 kids all doint thier own homework while my 2 year old hangs out with me while I work. It’s crazy, but its also wonderful.


Azure on

Many night law schools are 4 year programs, rather than three. Most of the students have full time jobs while they attend, so it’s definitely doable. If he really wants to practice law, then the hiring environment should be much better in 4 years.

Anna on

What law school is he going to where it’s an easy night thing? As an attorney who thinks law school was cruel & unusual punishment, I’m LMAO/crying at the thought of doing it with infant twins and being the primary caretaker.

bubbs on

i’m a lawyer ( top ranking school and firm) and it really wasn’t that bad. Turn up for lectures and tutorials and cram like hell before exams. Pretty much the same whatever degree you do. Also, please, they will have a FT nanny to look after the girls as well … i would bet a kidney on it.

Patrice on

Good for Jerry and his ambition, but as someone whose best friend is currently a third year student at Clolumbia Law, I can assure you that Law School is HARDLY a vacation. My friend doesn’t sleep, has to intern in the summers at law firms, and her course load is somethig unlike anything I have ever seen before. It is the last choice I would make (other than med school) if my goal was to be present for my children MORE. I don’t get it.

Patrice on

SRSLY: Stella is right on point with what she said. “Study a bit” between classes”?!I don’t know where YOU go to school, but what you are describing sounds like less work and commitment that even run of the mill undergrad college student experinces.

Terri on

Sometimes people go to school to fulfill a goal or dream beyond just getting a job. I don’t think law school is easy as he thinks it may be, but good luck to him.

CelebBabyLover on

bubbs- Jerry said right in this post that “I’m not going to be working for the next eight months because we agreed that one of us would be with the kids.” Therefore, it sounds like they don’t use nannies. 🙂

Christie on

Although this article is old, I thought I’d chime in. The 1L attrition rate at Southwestern is pretty high, meaning that the curve isn’t quite as generous as the curve in higher-ranked schools. (Actually, Southwestern recently changed the curve to be more in line with better schools, but this was true a short while ago.) Lower-ranked schools try to weed out the weak after the first year. And they get to keep your tuition, of course. Even though this seems counter-intuitive, the better schools aren’t necessarily the hardest schools. For example, Yale Law School has a credit/no credit grading system for its first year (the most important year in terms of biglaw hiring). The lower-ranked schools are much more competitive because the students all are competing for the top 5-10% so that they have a shot at the good-paying jobs. Yale kids don’t have to compete to the same degree because the prestige of the school carries more weight than anything.

If Jerry O’Connell didn’t have a backup career, I’d be telling him to stop wasting his money at this awful school, but if he’s just doing it for enrichment or whatever, then I guess it’s not a big deal. But I agree that, even with night school, he’s going to have a LOT of work.