Amal Clooney (nee Alamuddin) has been defending high-profile clients in international legal cases for years but it was the announcement of her engagement to Hollywood actor George Clooney in April 2014, that really brought her under the spotlight.
The lawyer, activist and author is now also somewhat of a style icon, featuring in fashion and gossip magazines worldwide. However, the highly intelligent barrister, who has degrees from Oxford University and New York University’s School of Law, had already begun gaining notoriety for handling some of the most contentious human rights cases in recent years, including that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
In February, she publicly ridiculed the Canadian government for failing to do more to assist its citizen, Fahmy, who was on bail awaiting retrial after more than a year behind bars in Egypt on terrorism-related charges. Clooney remarked that Canada’s “sheepish whimpers are woefully inadequate”.
She has also served on the International Court of Justice, worked in the Office of the Prosecutor at the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, advised UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan on Syria, represented Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and is an advisor to Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Issa Al Khalifa, among other accomplishments.
In August 2014, she turned down an offer to join the UN’s three-member commission investigating possible war crimes during last year’s Israel–Gaza conflict, citing her consistently heavy workload.
Clooney was born in Beirut but her family emigrated to the UK in 1980 during the Lebanese Civil War.