Amal Clooney’s human rights campaign trail snuffed by paps who just wanted to see what she was wearing

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By Katie King on

Could Amal follow in the footsteps of Cherie Blair and quit chambers?


Powerful barrister Amal Clooney took to the Doughty Street stage today to discuss human rights breaches in the Maldives. But everyone just wanted to take pictures of her.

Legal Cheek wonders whether she’ll manage to keep up her chambers role for much longer or whether the press attention will drive Clooney into more of a behind-the-scenes job — just as it did with Cherie Blair QC.

Clooney is currently acting pro bono for Mohamed Nasheed, the ousted president of the Maldives — who claims he was falsely imprisoned by his country’s government. His team of lawyers are calling for targeted sanctions on individual politicians, businessmen and judges in the holiday hotspot, in response to the country’s chequered human rights record.

Speaking at today’s news conference, Clooney described the situation in the Maldives as very serious and spoke out against the country’s oppressive regime.

In recent weeks, Clooney has been out on a very well publicised campaign trail — helped along, no doubt, by her superstar surname. Speaking to NBC News earlier this month, Clooney described her newly found celeb status as a help, not a hindrance, to her human rights cases.

She said:

I think there is a certain responsibility that comes with [being in the spotlight]. And you know, I think I’m exercising it in an appropriate manner by continuing to do this kind of work.

But we’re not too sure she’s drawing in the right sort of coverage. Everyone just wants to know what she’s wearing, with the Mail Online fuelling speculation that Clooney, a junior barrister, is only being given the time of day because she is the “highly glamorous wife” of a Hollywood actor.

Doughty Street Chambers was so crowded this morning with news crews and paps that journalists wanting to report on the conference were denied entry.

A particularly interesting feature of the case is that Nasheed’s opponents — the current Maldives government — are represented by Cherie Blair’s company Omnia Strategy, prompting the press to adopt a Clooney v Blair approach to the case.

But the two women actually have a lot in common. Both were successful, high-powered lawyers in their own right whose achievements were overshadowed, almost diminished, when they married big.

A founding member of Matrix Chambers, Blair became a barrister in 1976 and was awarded prestigious status as a QC in 1995, before her husband became prime minister. After moving to 10 Downing Street, Blair managed to carry on with the day job for some years without any airs and graces.

Fast-forward to 2011 and Blair is no longer practising at her old chambers. After persistent media attention — and some embarrassing press for travelling by train to sit as a judge without first buying a ticket — Blair left Matrix for Omnia.

Who knows? If Clooney continues to follow in Blair’s footsteps, her court appearances could be next to fall by the wayside.