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Julian Assange’s ex-Lawyer Re-Brands as Fitness Guru

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Yesterday, it was with considerable surprise that I happened upon ‘Jogging with the FT: Mark Stephens’ – an interview with the high profile media lawyer conducted while he ran around Regent’s Park.

Now, Stephens (pictured below) may be many things – charming, down-to-earth, super PR savvy for a lawyer – but a shining example of physical fitness he ain’t.

Not that he attempts to hide this. “I’m unfit,” Stephens tells the FT. “That’s really the point. Like most lawyers, I go to a lot of cocktail parties, business lunches, business dinners.”

Julian Assange’s former lawyer continues: “I’ve put on far more weight than I should’ve done,” adding: “The lawyer’s lifestyle takes its toll.”

So why’s Stephens fronting an instructional piece in a national newspaper about keeping fit? My theory is that he ended up doing it as a consolation prize after something went wrong during negotiations to appear in the more famous ‘Lunch with the FT’ interview series.

This scenario would also at least partially explain why Stephens appears to be floating several feet over Regent’s Park in the picture of him above (which is copyrighted to Charlie Bibby, who we can’t afford to pay and hope doesn’t sue us, but whose apparent excellence at using Photoshop to portray lawyers in flattering lights I’d like to emphasise to all our wealthy legal readers).

Anyway, here’s the official story:

‘On Christmas Day 2006, Stephens was given the services of a personal trainer (Keir Kennedy-Mitchell, who also trains the newsreader Jon Snow). “It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever had,” he says. Up to three times a week, he meets his trainer at his central London office, does some stretching, some abdominal exercises, “sit ups, those kinds of things”, and then they go for a jog around Regent’s Park.”’

Stephens refuses to talk about why he no longer represents Assange during the interview, although he does disclose that he recently found a dead body under one of the benches where he conducts his leg stretching regime.

University of East London-educated Stephens also talks about his rise from a humble background to the top of media law.

If you’re reading Mark, this is good timing, because Legal Cheek is about to launch a ‘Lunch with Legal Cheek’ interview series, in which Independent journo (and LC agony aunt) Emily Jupp will be interviewing leading lawyers at the finest branches of London’s renowned Chicken Cottage chain. We’d love to make that ‘Lunch with…’ dream of yours come true.