Everyone is fascinated with Mrs Clooney precisely because she is Mrs Clooney
The media gods will forever bless Amal Clooney. The Doughty Street Chambers barrister has a highly valuable asset — she sells newspapers and magazines and sends website traffic figures stratospheric.
Undoubtedly as bright as a button, Clooney is also easy on the eye, which never hurts when it comes to tweaking the interest of fashion-conscious female readers and male readers generally.
But her intellectual and professional muscle — and even her base sex appeal — is nothing compared to one fact: she married a Hollywood heartthrob called George.
Many will gnash their teeth over that suggestion. They will argue — as some have done in the comments section following our story earlier this week on a news agency describing her as an “actor’s wife” — that barrister Clooney stands on her own independently of film star Clooney.
Fair enough. Amal Clooney qualified at the New York bar some 13 years ago and then did an impressive stateside professional tour, including stints at white shoe firm Sullivan & Cromwell, the office of the special prosecutor at the UN, as well as being a New York University-sponsored clerk to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
On return to London, she was called to the English bar in 2010 and is now firmly ensconced as a junior at a marquee chambers, Doughty Street.
So Amal clearly had a career before she married George last year.
But the mainstream media paints a caricature picture of Amal. They — and hordes of readers — are primarily interested in barrister Clooney because her glitzy marriage to George lends a bucket-load of stardust to the esoteric legal profession. Likewise, actor Clooney has a massive fan base that has for years been obsessed with his personal life; intellectual Amal adds intrigue and spice to that obsession.
The story is straightforward: the sexy, bright, independent, successful lawyer with a stellar career hooks up with Hollywood’s dashing alpha-male in the quintessential modern marriage. It beats the hell out of another possible line: reasonably clever, moderately successful, well travelled and still quite young lawyer hooks up with middle aged actor.
To be fair, as far as we can tell, Amal and her ubiquitous head of chambers, Australia’s plumiest lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, seem far from troubled by that first narrative and all the attention it generates.
But there are plenty of clever lawyers out there — many with considerably more impressive human rights records than that of Amal Clooney. While serious-minded mainstream commentators express outrage that lawyer Clooney should occasionally appear to play second fiddle in the fame stakes to her husband, one can’t help but surmise that many in the legal profession are not surprised.
Amal Clooney is by no means stupid — her professional record so far clearly demonstrates that. But part of not being stupid entails recognising that marrying into big box office will result in the type of ostensibly trivialised — or fantasised — coverage we have seen.
It is likely that lawyer Clooney — whose mother, a celebrity booking agent, is no stranger to the quixotic nature of the media — is entirely aware of what is happening and happy with it.
More naïve commentators should follow suit.
Twitter erupts in anger as Amal Clooney is described as an ‘actor’s wife’ by Associated Press [Legal Cheek]