Anthony lawyer rises from obscurity to legal fame

Legal Business Posted on

Three years ago, Jose Baez's name was barely a blip in the legal community.

This was a lawyer who made his way to the profession after dropping out of high school, getting a GED and going into the Navy. He tried several failed businesses — including two bikini companies — before he eventually enrolled at Florida State University and St. Thomas University School of Law. It took another eight years for him to be admitted to the bar.

Now he's arguably one of the most recognizable attorneys in the country after his client Casey Anthony was acquitted in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in a case marked by a captivated national audience and searing scrutiny of every legal twist.

For the last three years since, Baez faced questions from other attorneys and TV commentators about his lack of criminal law experience and tactics. Now he's a legal celebrity almost certain to be offered interviews, book offers and possibly movie deals that could bring hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I think this is obviously life-altering for Jose Baez," said Terry Lenamon, a former member of Anthony's defense team, who left the case in 2008 after a disagreement over strategy.

Baez, 42, took Anthony's case pro bono in 2008, after getting a referral from a former client who shared a cell with Anthony following her initial arrest. He has handled the case since then, operating on state funds available to Anthony because of her indigent status, and from an early $200,000 she received from licensing photos and videos to ABC News.

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