If you want to see Justin Drew Bieber sing live, contact Ticketmaster and keep your fingers crossed. But if you want the same from Justin Matte Bieber, keep your ear pressed against the shower door.
Philadelphia lawyer Bieber, 32, finds himself caught in a name game with a 16-year-old pop music sensation: He’s trying to build his law practice, not send tween girls’ hearts aflutter. But since he carries the same name as the Canadian superstar, Bieber finds his world colliding with the teen who seemingly rules all he surveys.
Like Bieber the singer, Bieber the lawyer combs his blond hair forward, but the lawyer’s hair is considerably shorter, does not require a platoon of hairdressers to arrange and is not cemented into place.
Also a teen star
Also like the singer, Bieber was a teen star. An all-around athlete growing up, he told TODAYshow.com that he chose to concentrate on soccer at the age of 15 and became good enough to earn a full four-year Division I scholarship to Drexel University in Philadelphia.
On graduation, he enrolled in Widener University’s School of Law in Delaware, where Vice President Joe Biden used to teach. Bieber got his law degree in 2006 and set out to take the legal world by storm.
“I’ve been working my tail off to be one of the best young attorneys in Philadelphia,” he told TODAYshow.com.
‘You’re not Justin Bieber’
By last summer, Bieber was having enough success with the firm of Clearfield, Kofsky & Penneys to build his own website in an effort to expand his client base. He said he specializes in personal injury cases, especially those involving minor children.
When the website went up, he started getting friend requests on Facebook, many of them from teen and preteen girls, which was puzzling.
“I started getting 50 to 60 friend requests a week on Facebook, and all these messages that said ‘I love you,’ or ‘I love it when you sing,’ or ‘You’re not Justin Bieber,’ ” he told Philly.com.
“I don’t listen to the radio. I live in downtown Philadelphia and walk to work,” Bieber told TODAYshow.com. So he had no idea who the other Justin Bieber was. His girlfriend filled him in.
“She said, ‘Hey, this guy is on YouTube. He’s blowing up, and he has your same name,’ ” Bieber said. “I said, ‘This will burn out in two weeks.’ ”
Name is paying off
That turned out to be a miscalculation. A YouTube sensation at 14, Justin Bieber the singer was a superstar at 15 and a megastar today at the age of 16.
Bieber the lawyer learned that when he started taking out full-page ads in the Philadelphia Daily News this spring to advertise his services. He got some new clients along with 15 minutes of media fame.
Bieber said he doesn’t mind if people call because of his name, but he said he knows that’s not the way to build a legal practice.
“If people find me by my name, that’s not necessarily how to find an attorney,” he said. “The main way to get clients is to do excellent work. That’s the reason they brought me in, because of my excellent legal services, not because of my name.”
Bieber knows now that Bieber fever isn’t going away anytime soon. The teen idol saw his debut album shoot to No. 1 — the youngest artist to reach that lofty position since Stevie Wonder in 1963 — and score 10 hit singles. His fame has only snowballed since the release of his second album in March.
When Justin Bieber the lawyer went to dinner recently with his girlfriend, he left his name with the maitre d’ and later learned that the waitstaff thought he was joking until he gave his waiter his credit card at the end of the meal.
Sales clerks do double takes when he hands over his credit card. He’s even received a confirming e-mail when the other Justin canceled a dinner reservation.
The ad agency handling Bieber’s advertising campaign even suggested he change his name to something a little less scream-inducing.
“At first, they wanted me to use my middle name, but I don’t go by Matte Bieber, so that would be even stranger,” he told Philly.com. “So, we went with Justin Matte Bieber.”
For the record, Justin M. Bieber was born in Tacoma, Wash., in 1978, and was already in high school by the time teen dream Bieber made his debut into the world. Justin M. is just two years younger than Justin D.’s own mother, Pattie.
And while Justin M.’s music career ended when he gave up piano lessons as a kid, he’s found one distinct plus from sharing his name with a superstar — people know how to say the name, which is German in origin.
“It’s a really unusual name,” he said. “The name’s so unique we’re probably the only two with the same name.”
One benefit of the shared name, he said, is that people used to mispronounce and misspell it all the time, but not anymore.