If that name doesn't ring a bell, don't fret your pretty bar exam studying head. Let us either refresh it for you, or inform you! If you ever saw or heard of the movie that came out in the early 2000s called Catch Me If You Can, then you know a bit more about Frank Abagnale Jr. than you think you do. The movie was about Mr. Abagnale, an American security consultant known for his history as a confident trickster, imposter and escape artist. A young Leonardo DiCaprio gives us a lovely performance as a charismatic Abagnale running around the nation tricking hundreds of people into believing his various stories. Abagnale became one of the most famous imposters of all time, having assumed no fewer than eight different identities as an airline pilot, a doctor, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons agent, and, yes, even a lawyer. He escaped from police custody twice, and all before he was the ripe age of 21 years old.
"How can a drop box be out of service?"
My personal favorite trick of his was his con of a several airlines and car rental businesses. He noticed the location of where these businesses would drop their daily collections of money into a deposit drop box on airport premises. While disguised, he placed a sign over the box that read, "out of service, place deposits with security guard on duty," and he collected the money in that way. Later in a speech he exclaimed his astonishment of this having worked, "How can a drop box be out of service"
Abagnale's Time as an Attorney
Now did you hear us say he faked his way into being an attorney? Why, yes! He did, indeed. Abagnale forged a Harvard Law School transcript, passed the bar exam of Louisiana and got a job at the Louisiana Attorney General's office at the age of nineteen! While he was posing as a Pan Am Officer, he told a stewardess he was dating that he was a Harvard Law student, and she introduced him to a lawyer friend. That said attorney mentioned to Abagnale that the bar needed more lawyers, which gave Abagnale the idea to apply. Abagnale forged a transcript from Harvard and applied to take the bar exam. He studied hard and after failing the exam twice, he passed the Louisiana exam on the third try after eight weeks of studying. Now, don't go jumping off a cliff, just yet. Remember that though Abagnale had no formal law training, the Louisiana bar exam is in no way the most taxing bar exam there is and this was in 1967, so the exam was slightly less grueling. Once he passed the bar exam he was hired as an attorney at the Louisiana Attorney General's office.
Abagnale was not fond of his job as an attorney. He described his legal job as a "gopher boy" having to fetch coffee and knickknacks for his boss. Eventually Abagnale left because there was a real Harvard Law graduate who worked for the attorney general and he had begun to ask too many questions about Abagnale's Harvard past. Abagnale didn't want to be discovered, so after eight months of working as an attorney, he quit.
Interesting, right? Now, we didn't tell you this story so that you'd try out Abagnale's unethical path. Remember, Abagnale was eventually caught in France in 1969 and 12 of the countries in which he had committed fraud in sought his extradition. He first served time in Perpignan's House of Arrest in France for six months where he was held nude in a small, dirty, and pitch-black cell, which he was sequestered in. The cell had no toilet or bed, and his food and water were very sparse. So don't go getting any ideas!
We just thought it'd be an interesting little anecdote to share with you about someone who might have, for a while, circumvented law school, and started down the path of bar exam prep that you find yourself on now.