Who Is Amal Alamuddin Clooney?
Lebanese-British lawyer and activist Amal Ramzi Alamuddin Clooney was born in Beirut in 1978 and raised in England. An outstanding student, she studied at Oxford University and NYU before beginning her notable law career. Along with her high-profile defense cases, Clooney has been a part of several United Nations commissions and tribunals and lectured at top universities. In 2014, she married actor George Clooney, with whom she has twins.
From Lebanon to London
Amal Ramzi Alamuddin was born in Beirut, Lebanon, on February 3, 1978. Her father was a professor at the American University in Beirut and owner of a travel agency, and her mother was a journalist. When Alamuddin was 2 years old, her family fled Lebanon to escape the ravages of the civil war that had begun in the mid-1970s and engulfed the country in violence.
The family settled in London, England, in 1980, and Alamuddin attended a small school on the city's outskirts. An excellent student, she earned a scholarship to attend Oxford University beginning in 1996. While there, she developed an interest in human rights, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in law in 2000.
Distinguished Student and Lawyer
Alamuddin then entered the NYU School of Law to pursue a master’s degree. Beyond the classroom, she augmented her studies with several notable clerkships, working at the U.S. Court of Appeals with future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and at the International Court of Justice. Alamuddin completed her studies in 2002 and passed the New York State Bar the same year.
After passing the bar, Alamuddin was employed at the New York City–based Sullivan & Cromwell, one of the top-ranked law firms in the world. Working as part of its defense group, Alamuddin represented many newsworthy clients, including Enron and Arthur Andersen during probes into their criminal activities.
In 2005, Alamuddin refocused her career on international law when she became part of a United Nations tribunal established to prosecute the persons responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri.
Law Career: Doughty Street Chambers
In 2010, Alamuddin returned to London to work as a barrister (a legal representative similar to a lawyer) for Doughty Street Chambers, a firm with a strong history of civil liberties work. She went on to handle several high-profile cases in international courts, including the defense of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko; Muammar al-Qaddafi’s intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi; and WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange.
Beyond her criminal defense cases, Alamuddin has also held several important advisory roles, including working with Kofi Annan for a United Nations commission on Syria and acting as counsel during a 2013 inquiry into the use of drones in counter-terrorist activities. She has also contributed to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative, which works to defend the rights of women in war zones, and in early 2015 she announced that she would represent Armenia in the European Court of Human Rights during its case against Turkey for the denial of the Armenian genocide.
Outside of court, Alamuddin has lectured on criminal law at such institutions as the University of London and the Hague Academy of International Law. She also serves as a visiting faculty member at Columbia Law School.
Marriage to George Clooney
Already a star in the legal world, Alamuddin stepped even more squarely into the limelight when she became involved with superstar actor and famous bachelor George Clooney. The couple married in Venice, Italy, in September 2014, and shortly thereafter moved to a multimillion-dollar estate built on a small island in the Thames in London. The politically minded power couple made their first of many philanthropic efforts together when they donated the money they received for their wedding photos to a human rights charity.
In February 2017, reports surfaced that Amal was pregnant and expecting twins. She gave birth to a girl and a boy — Ella and Alexander — on June 6, 2017, in a London hospital, the first children for both their mom and dad.
The family subsequently released a statement through George’s publicist, saying: “This morning we welcomed Ella and Alexander Clooney into our lives. Ella, Alexander and Amal are all healthy, happy and doing fine.” The statement also joked about the 56-year-old proud papa, who, prior to marrying Amal, was a well-known single guy: “George is sedated and should recover in a few days.”
In the wake of the tragic shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, the Clooneys threw their weight behind the March for Our Lives demonstration planned for the following month.
“Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event,” said George in a statement.
Their announcement set off a domino effect in Hollywood, with other power players like Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg declaring that they would also donate $500,000 to the cause.
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