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Doughty Street in the spotlight

If you’ve picked up a paper in the last couple of days then you might have found it difficult to miss one beautifully attired Amal Alamuddin marrying a certain Hollywood heartthrob with the surname Clooney. The glamorous Venice wedding, complete with a celebrity guest list that knocks most others out of the water, has certainly been one of the most papped celebrity events of the year. Among all the interest in the dress, the age gap and predictions about whether or not the union is the fact that Amal Alamuddin is a human rights barrister at London’s Doughty Street Chambers. Alamuddin joined Doughty Street Chambers in 2010 and has since worked on numerous high-profile matters, including advising Kofi Annan, the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and representing Julian Assange, head of WikiLeaks, in extradition proceedings. However, with the announcement of the wedding earlier this year it was suddenly Alamuddin herself who was in the spotlight – and consequently the chambers too. According to Robin Jackson, chief executive of Doughty Street Chambers, the increase in interest in one of their own has been almost too much for the chambers’ online presence to take. In a great example of just how an association with one of the most famous men in Hollywood can catapult a person onto the international media scene, Jackson said that Doughty Street has not only been forced to cope with all the reporters and camera crews suddenly arriving at the chambers but also to upgrade the website to deal with the enormous spike in interest that caused it to crash when the engagement was first announced. Of course all the interest in Alamuddin has made members of the set prime targets for doorstepping by the nation’s media, as ever looking for a juicy quote or piece of gossip to use about someone who is something of an unknown figure as far as the gossip press is concerned. When the engagement was announced in April joint head of chambers, Geoffrey Robertson QC was quoted in the Telegraph saying that, “Amal Alamuddin is a brilliant and passionate defender of human rights who has put in the enormously hard work necessary to improving them. She is respected and admired by all her colleagues.” Although the press were probably looking for something a little more scandalous than that, so far the team at Doughty Street has managed to stay admirably out of the reach of even the most persistent of tabloids, no doubt despite numerous attempts. In terms of what this might mean for the chambers the increased interest in its work is most likely a positive factor. Given that the set is used to dealing with high-profile clients perhaps some of that media training has been shared with other members to help everyone deal with the current circumstances. However, given the importance of the work Amal Alamuddin and Doughty Street do on a daily basis the hope is no doubt that they’re allowed to get back to normal sooner rather than later.

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