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Judge Alex Ferrer Fame & Fortune: TV's Judge Alex Ferrer

Education is the key to financial security

When Alex Ferrer's parents escaped Fidel Castro's Cuba when Alex was 1 year old, they probably never imagined that their son would be both a distinguished judge and a daytime television star. Then again, the potential for such success was probably the exact reason they did what they did.

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As the son of immigrants who made great sacrifices in pursuit of a better, freer life, Ferrer learned the value of hard work early on, taking jobs from the age of 15, becoming a Miami police officer at 19, juggling police work with law school and eventually becoming the youngest circuit court judge in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida at age 34. After 10 years on the bench, Judge Ferrer's charisma and even-handedness caught the attention of television producers, and the syndicated court show "Judge Alex" launched in September 2005, becoming the highest-rated daytime syndication debut of the year, and the most successful new daytime syndicated show since "Dr. Phil."

Bankrate spoke with Judge Ferrer about the work ethic that got him where he is today and how that has impacted his financial future.

Bankrate: How does one go from being a state circuit court judge to having his own TV show?

Judge Alex Ferrer: I'd been a judge for about 10 years in Miami, and they saw footage of me handling a case. When you've been doing nine or 10 years in the criminal division in Miami, which is the fourth largest court system in the country, you handle a lot of high-profile cases. So there was a lot of media footage of me handling cases. Two networks got their hands on some footage a few years ago, and both approached me about court shows. We never reached an agreement, because I wasn't sure if I wanted to make that leap. But for the next two years I kicked myself, because I'm the type of person who tries new things, and I didn't take the opportunity. So when Twentieth Television decided they wanted to do a court show, they approached me, and we hit it off. It was a perfect fit, and I was ready to take the leap. At that point, I was being considered for a vacancy on the appellate court -- I was considered the front-runner. And then this comes along, and it's completely different. Being a judge is the pinnacle of many lawyers' careers, and very few people get the opportunity to be an appellate judge. I was leaving that area, which would have been a heck of an accomplishment in my legal career, to go do something I'd never done before.

Bankrate: So turning down the appellate judgeship was a big deal. Why did you make that decision?

Judge Alex Ferrer: After a lot of discussion with my wife and my kids -- my daughter is 16 and my son is 14 -- it came down to the fact that in a couple of years my kids are going to college, and this gives me the opportunity to spend more time with them, because my taping schedule is such that I have a lot of intensive taping and then a lot of free time.

Next: "Of course, as a judge, you have job security."
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