“A Hofstra Law School graduate who started his career with $5,000 saved working as a lifeguard…”
That was the phrase that three reporters for USA Today used to introduce Bernie Madoff to readers. It was echoed by the Associated Press and many others. “The Queens kid who paid his way through Hofstra Law School by working as a lifeguard on Rockaway Beach once seemed like the embodiment of the American Dream,” was how the New York Post described Madoff.
There was just one problem: It wasn’t true.
Bernie Madoff never graduated from law school.
Bloomberg did a better job, noting that the website of Madoff Securities only claimed that Madoff had “left law school.” Readers probably assumed that Madoff had attended Hofstra Law School but left before graduating.
That wasn’t right either.
Madoff never attended Hofstra Law School before starting his business in 1960. He couldn’t have. It didn’t exist before 1970.
When Chris Glynn of HedgeFund.Net checked the U4 registration Madoff filed on the SEC Web site, he discovered that Madoff did not provide his educational background.
Which raises the question: did Madoff ever go to law school.
Was Madoff lying when he said he started his securities company after leaving law school? We can’t say for certain. It’s possible that he went to law school somewhere, briefly. But our investigation could not uncover any evidence that Madoff went to law school anywhere in or around New York City. After contacting just about every law school we could think of, we couldn’t find one law school that had a record of Madoff ever attending. Likely schools such as Fordham Law School, Touro Law School, Cardozo Law School, New York Law School, Columbia Law School, Pace Law School, St. John’s Law School—all said they had no record of Madoff attending.
Several law school officials expressed relief that Madoff had never enrolled at their schools.
It seems that the tale of Madoff’s law school, long part of his longstanding Wall Street legend, is simply that—a legend. And, perhaps, the beginning of his long, long fraud.
- The Education of Bernie Madoff: The Mystery of His College Graduation
- The Education of Bernie Madoff: The High School Years
- Where Did Madoff’s Startup Money Come From?
- The Madoff Scheme: The Early Years