Inside the World of Amal Clooney

A sudden late snow is falling, bright with just a touch of magic, as the automatic gate to Aberlash House opens. It’s an afternoon in March but, in this powdery landscape, could be January. Footprints lead a few steps down a drive, between a row of trees, and climb to a small colonnaded entryway. A breeze is up; the air is bracing. Amal Clooney swings open the door and gathers me inside.

“I feel as if I know you already,” she says oddly, setting a latch against the cold. Tall, poised, and—unexpectedly for someone often seen in somber barrister’s robes—funny, Clooney is an easy host, and dashes off to hang my coat. She wears a red thigh-length Giambattista Valli sweater, jeans, and leopard-print boots she picked up years ago in Capri. The stately entry hall around us (towering ceilings, crisp Georgian molding) is trimmed with personal details. A softly faded Persian rug extends down the stone corridor. A side table, lit by a simple lamp, bears silver-framed black-and-white photos of her with her husband, George, and friends.

The two of them bought this house, set on a tiny island in the Thames called Sonning Eye, around the time they married, and then spent their honeymoon here, camping out in the unfurnished rooms. Last June, Amal gave birth to twins, Ella and Alexander, and since then the house—much like the Clooneys themselves—has grown giddy with the trappings of first parenthood. “We’ve had some ‘Mamas’ and ‘Dadas,’ ” Amal says. She smiles coyly. “George was very careful to ensure that ‘Mama’ was the first word.”

The many charms of her life, in other words, have not arrived without some background work. I’ve spent the morning interviewing members of her family, but it’s when I meet her that I learn—and this is why she feels we know each other—that she also subsequently interviewed them about me: a barrister’s instinct for discovery, the better to respond by knowing how things stand.

Many people first encountered Amal Clooney in 2014, on her engagement to George. By then, though, she had already built a notable career as a London barrister in international human rights law—the system through which some of the world’s slipperiest transnational villains, such as ISIS, can be held accountable in court. “I remember all the stages in my career where I almost didn’t have enough confidence to try for something,” she says, “almost didn’t have the guts to follow something I was excited about doing, because I didn’t know anyone else who’d done it or other people made me question it.” Recently she’s tried to help young women approach similarly unconventional paths in law.

“What distinguishes a really great barrister in international-law practice is creativity,” explains Geoffrey Robertson, a cofounder of Doughty Street Chambers, the firm where Clooney works, and one of the giants of the field. International law is, as he puts it, “newfangled”: It requires an eye for synthetic connections and an ear for deft persuasion. “She’s been a leading intellectual thinker on the concept of fairness—in a trial where you don’t have a jury and where, sometimes, you don’t have a defendant,” he says. “That set her apart even before she met George.”

Amal Clooney

If the standard model for Hollywood marriage is either celebrity pairing or quiet consortship (a spouse outside the limelight, a supportive partner on the running board of the career), Amal Clooney quickly flouted such customs. She was not a celebrity, yet she rose to fame’s conventions and constraints. At the same time, she remained carefully herself, heralding a subtle, welcome change in social expectation on the way. Once, a high-achieving working woman would have been trapped in the shadow of her leading man. Now you go out evenings and expect to find women outshining, in their brilliance and accomplishment, whoever dangles on their arm—even George Clooney.

“She’s the professional, and I’m the amateur,” says George, who’s done a share of humanitarian work on his own. “I get to see someone at the absolute top of their game doing their job better than anybody I’ve ever seen.” He was not alone in feeling so, and a shower of jokes followed news of their vows across their world. “Internationally Acclaimed Barrister Amal Alamuddin Marries an Actor,” went one version of a popular headline gag. At the 2015 Golden Globes, Tina Fey met their match with a punch line: “Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria, and was selected for a three-person U.N. commission,” she said onstage. “So tonight her husband is getting a lifetime-achievement award.” Nobody in the audience seemed to laugh more joyfully than George.

George and Amal in Venice before their wedding.

Even with fairy dust settling atop the Clooneys’ union (they married in Venice; she wore an empyrean off-the-shoulder Oscar de la Renta dress), Amal’s hard, sometimes disturbing work remains a major part of their shared lives. On the afternoon I stop by, she is showing around Nadia Murad, a 25-year-old Iraqi refugee she has invited to the house, and whose experiences informed Clooney’s highest-profile legal battle to date. Clooney introduces us, then peers around her vast, lovely home looking perplexed.

“Where would you like to sit?” she asks, gesturing with a mug of espresso. (Two years ago, she and George tried to go on a healthy-eating cleanse. “It was hard to give up the glass of wine in the evening, but even harder to give up the espresso first thing in the morning,” she recalls. “We’re like, Aren’t we supposed to be feeling amazing?” They bailed on day eleven of three weeks.)

We contemplate two rooms off the main entry. To the left is a very correct sitting room (stuffed chairs, a couch, a hearth) decorated with a mix of family photos (Amal’s parents, George’s parents) and photos decidedly not family-like: George and Amal shaking hands with President Obama; George and Amal meeting the pope. To the right is a room, lined with bookshelves, that is ever-so-slightly strange. There’s a framed antique map of Berkshire, the county nearby; a ship in a bottle; and a gold monogram sculpture (G and A). Amal’s laptop is splayed across a cushioned coffee table, and some art books (Bruegel, Gauguin) are stacked sideways on a shelf, near a collection of vintage Penguin paperbacks. The mantel is decorated with wedding photos; the Clooneys love photos above all else. Some of their most cherished paintings, by contrast, are of George’s late, beloved cocker spaniel, Einstein (posed as a physics professor at a chalkboard), and the head of a giraffe (Amal adores giraffes). When some insurance appraisers came by, a while back, they spent some time peering at these paintings of dogs and leaf-munching mammals before issuing a pointedly low estimate on the Clooneys’ art.

“They were like, ‘It’s barely worth getting a policy,’ ” Clooney says, dropping her voice in mock umbrage. “They were very judgmental.”

Murad and I settle into the cozier, more interesting book-laden room, and Clooney goes to make tea: The snow is heavy on the ground, and it is near the sleepy hour of the afternoon. Murad is shy but self-possessed, and wears her history in her manner. She’s a Yazidi: a member of a Kurdish-speaking ethnoreligious minority that follows a faith entirely its own and, as a result, has been virulently targeted by ISIS. In August 2014, when ISIS fighters appeared in her hometown of Kocho, they escorted her and other Yazidis to the local school. Males were separated from females, who were then sorted by age. The older women and the men, including six of Murad’s siblings, were killed in a mass slaughter. Murad and other young women were transported to Mosul and distributed as sex slaves. She was beaten, raped repeatedly, and, at one point, put in a room with six ISIS guards, who violated her two at a time until she passed out. Then finally one day she was able to escape through an unlocked door (she was one of the lucky ones) and made it to a refugee camp. Through a German refugee program, she began a new life in Stuttgart and started telling her story in the West.

In 2016, Murad met Clooney, who took on the Yazidis’ plight. Over months, Clooney interviewed other refugees and survivors, building a case that could carry through the international justice system.

“Not many people stepped up to help as she did,” Murad confides now, through a translator, as Clooney fusses in the kitchen. Murad is wearing jeans and a playful gray sweater with a cat embroidered on it, but she is still hauntedly thin. “I was surprised that someone like her—a successful lawyer with a strong record—would help us. We’re a very small community.”

The Yazidi case brought Murad and her lawyer to the floor of the U.N., in September 2016. There, in crisp barrister fashion, Clooney delivered a rending plea. “She has shown us the scars from cigarette burns and beatings,” she said of Murad. “Nadia’s mother was one of 80 older women who were executed and buried in an unmarked grave.”

She drew herself up. “Make no mistake: What Nadia has told us about is genocide, and genocide doesn’t happen by accident. . . . I am ashamed, as a supporter of the United Nations, that states are failing to prevent or even punish genocide because they find that their own interests get in the way.”

Progress followed incrementally. In late 2016, the German supreme court authorized an arrest warrant against a high-ranking ISIS commander. In 2017, following a second presentation by Clooney, the U.N. Security Council resolved to establish an investigative team to collect evidence about ISIS’s actions in Iraq. “It tells victims that they may finally have their day in court,” Clooney wrote in an opinion piece following the resolution. “Justice is now, finally, within reach.”

To help draw attention to what remains of the fight, Murad recently published a memoir, The Last Girl. (Clooney wrote the foreword.) In cooperation with the French government, she has started a fund-raising campaign, the Sinjar Action Fund, to support schools, clinics, and other infrastructural necessities in her home region. When the more than 350,000 displaced Yazidis can finally come home, Murad hopes to do what she dreamed of before her nightmare started: open a beauty parlor for women in Kocho, where there are none.

“She’s so eloquent,” Clooney says later. “There are many cases where I think, Well, the reality is, politically, nothing will be done. But there is actually no reason why nothing could be done on this case, where the perpetrators were confessing to the crime.” The Yazidi case, she says, is “a test of the whole international system—if the U.N. can’t take meaningful action, something is really fundamentally wrong.”

The Clooneys at the Venice Film Festival last September.

Questions of destiny and volition have trailed Clooney through her life. Her mother, Baria Alamuddin, is a well-known political journalist, but her first ambition was to be a lawyer. (Her university had no law course.) Amal’s father, Ramzi Alamuddin, was vice president of the Universal Federation of Travel Agents’ Association, which consults with the U.N., so the family was often on the move. For a while, they lived in Paris. By the time Amal, their second daughter together, was born, they had returned to Beirut.

“My pregnancy with Amal was a rather difficult one,” Baria Alamuddin recalls. She had placenta previa and spent two months in the hospital. “At some point I was told that I should lose the baby. I said no. I kept on having these dreams in which I would see her face and how she was going to look.” In the end, the child was born “exactly as I saw her,” she says. Because the birth came during a lull in Lebanon’s civil war, her father named her Amal—Arabic for “hope.”

When Amal was still a child, the family left Lebanon again, for London, and later settled in a Buckinghamshire house with a swimming pool. Extended family often visited, and the kids were left alone to make their own fun. “Amal was the youngest, and because of that always got shafted,” recalls Tarek Miknas, a cousin who was near the same age as Amal. “If we were to put together a music band to entertain the family after dinner, my brother might get two instruments, her sister would get lead singer, I’d get the guitar, and she would get something like the triangle.” Clooney excelled in school but was not one to skulk in libraries. “I wanted to do well academically,” she recalls. “But it was equally important to do things”—she chuckles—“in an effortless manner.”

“All my family, we are party animals,” says her mother. “Amal partied hard and worked hard.” Also, like the other women in her family, Clooney saw no contradiction in being serious and chic, and used to raid her mother’s closet. “She would come and grab a series of shoes and bags and whatever,” her mother says. “I’d say, ‘What are you doing?’ She’d give me this legal argument that went on and on.”

Clooney went to St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, where she studied law. “I loved it because, having done six years at a girls’ school—a very sort of English country setup—Oxford was much more international. There were boys there!” she says. On graduating, she came to the United States for New York University’s LL.M. program—a more practically oriented course—and did an externship with Sonia Sotomayor, then a judge for the Second Circuit. She left school with a job at the white-shoe firm Sullivan & Cromwell. “If I could leave the office at 10:00 p.m., it would be an amazing achievement because I could still catch friends at the end of dinner,” she remembers. She was part of the defense team for Enron’s lead auditor but also took on pro bono criminal cases. “I cared more about the outcome of those cases than my paid cases,” she says. “And that made me think, Well, why am I not doing more of that kind of work?”

In 2004, she applied for a one-year clerkship at the International Court of Justice, the main judicial organ of the U.N. in The Hague. Friends in her circle tended to regard this as insane. The program came with a subsistence-level stipend of $20,000, and The Hague was—well, not such a fun town. But the post thrilled her, and she went on to spend a year working on the war-crimes trial of Slobodan Miloševi´c. “She gets into the granular detail,” says Philippa Webb, one of two fellows with whom Clooney shared a Peace Palace office in The Hague. “But she also has a deeper reflection on what this is doing to the development of the law.” (“Fortunately, I haven’t been against her yet,” Webb adds. “I really wouldn’t want to be on the other side.”)

Clooney was preparing to go back to practice in New York when she heard about a U.N. investigation in Beirut to prosecute the murderers of Lebanon’s prime minister. “I thought, OK, I’ll just go work there for a couple of months while my visa comes through,” she says. She ended up staying for years, traveling from The Hague to Beirut. “I was in my late 20s, and I was literally living on top of a mountain, in a secured compound, with four checkpoints between me and the outside world,” she says. The danger was real: Investigators like her were being targeted with explosives. The Lebanon tribunal ultimately led her to Doughty Street Chambers, where one of her early assignments was to petition the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Orange Revolution leader and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who alleged a politically motivated legal case against her by the Ukrainian government. Meanwhile, free speech was becoming one of Clooney’s focal points. She represented Mohamed Fahmy, the Canadian Egypt bureau chief of Al Jazeera, who, with other journalists, was taken into custody by the Egyptian government. (Fahmy was released from prison following her efforts.) She also represented Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, who says he was forced to resign at gunpoint and, after criticizing the government, imprisoned on a terrorism charge. (He is currently in the U.K. as a political refugee.) And she worked on a team representing Julian Assange in his extradition case. (She no longer represents him.)

Much of her work also centers on the mistreatment of women. In 2015, she signed on to represent Khadija Ismayilova, an Azerbaijani investigative journalist who published evidence of corruption by Azerbaijan’s president. Ismayilova had been sentenced to prison on charges that, Clooney sought to show, were fabricated. In 2016, after Clooney submitted evidence to the European Court of Human Rights, Ismayilova was released.

“As women we may not be a minority, but there is a bond that we all share,” Clooney said in a speech a year and a half ago. “It is not a bond of geography. Or religion. Or culture. It is a bond of shared experience—experiences that only women go through, and struggles that only women face.” Today, this brings her to the #MeToo movement. “I think because of the brave women who have come forward to tell their stories, the future workplace will be safer for my daughter than it was for people of my generation,” Clooney says. “We’re in a situation where a predator feels less safe and a professional woman feels more safe, and that’s where we need to be.”

One day in 2013, Clooney’s cousin Miknas was passing through London and suggested that the two of them get dinner. “She’s like, ‘Oh, this is great. I have so much to tell you,’ ” he recalls. When they caught up at a restaurant in town, he asked her for her news.

“She’s like, ‘Eh—I don’t want to talk about it yet. Let’s have a glass of wine. Tell me about you,’ ” he recalls. Miknas did, and then the conversation circled back to her. She balked, strangely: Shyness was unlike his cousin. “She’s like, ‘Uh, ah, second bottle. This one needs a second bottle of wine.’ Finally she goes, ‘Welllll, look. There’s a bit of a romance brewing.’ ”

Some months before, Amal had come along with a friend to George Clooney’s house on Lake Como, in Italy. His parents were staying with him, and everyone talked deep into the evening. “Of course she was beautiful,” George says. “But I also thought she was fascinating, and I thought she was brilliant. Her life was incredibly exciting—the clients she was taking on and the superhuman work that she was doing. I was taken with her from the moment I saw her.”

They became friends; they stayed in touch. Amal is a big emailer, and George responded with a clownish gambit, writing her repeated notes in the voice of his dog Einstein, who claimed to be trapped in various places and in need of legal rescue. By the time she saw Miknas, their friendship was seeming like something more. “ ‘I don’t know what to make of it,’ ” Miknas remembers her saying. “ ‘The worst part is, I really like him. And he’s coming tomorrow!’ ”

“I said, ‘What are you going to do?’ ” Miknas recalls. “ ‘It’s not like you can meet in Starbucks and have a chat. It’s not going to be that easy.’ She’s like, ‘I know.’ ”

In the end, she made them a dinner reservation at one of London’s best restaurants—the sort of thing that one would expect to be a good idea for a discreet date with a movie actor but is actually (she learned that evening) a naive mistake: It put them in the path of waiting paparazzi. Following the dinner, she and George saw each other, more quietly, every day.

“It felt like the most natural thing in the world,” she says. “Before that experience, I always hoped there could be love that was overwhelming and didn’t require any weighing or decision-making.” Now she felt she’d found it, on the strangest of flukes.

“It’s the one thing in life that I think is the biggest determinant of happiness, and it’s the thing you have the least control over,” she says. “Are you going to meet this person? I was 35 when I met him. It wasn’t obvious that it was going to happen for me. And I wasn’t willing or excited about the idea of getting married or having a family in the absence of that.”

George, in his 50s, had reached a similar place. “If you know anything about my crazy life, you know that I’d pretty much committed to the idea of never marrying again,” he says. (He was married to the actress Talia Balsam for a few years in his late 20s and early 30s.) “But I started dating Amal, and I immediately knew that something was very different.” When they went with friends on a safari trip in Africa (giraffes), George had one of those epiphanies that arrive in the interstices of a life.

“Some giraffes walked up to her,” he recalls. “They just came out of the blue. I took a picture of her, and she was smiling. I said to my buddy Ben, ‘You know, I think I should ask her to marry me.’ And Ben said, ‘I think that’s a good idea.’ ”

Amal’s friends and family members say that nothing about her changed after the marriage: She maintained her in-the-moment balance between immersive work and intimate friendships—stunningly so. She wasn’t, after all, a star who’d climbed toward fame through years of waitressing; she wasn’t a politician who had cultivated a place in the public eye. She was a woman with a fully realized adult life who, almost overnight, became a celebrity of inordinate privilege.

Much changed as a result. Once, when she and Miknas were both in New York, he proposed a walk in the park. “She’s like, ‘Yeah, I don’t think we can.’ ” Puzzled, he suggested an alternative—pizza at their favorite restaurant by N.Y.U.—and they set off. “As soon as the car leaves, there are bicycles and mopeds weaving through the streets. A car blocks us to get a shot—I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “When we go inside the restaurant, it all goes away. But the minute you go back out into public space, it’s hard.”

“We definitely do more things in our home to ensure privacy in a context where we can’t otherwise get it,” Clooney concedes. “But that whole side—invasions of privacy and paparazzi, all of that—has happened because of something so happy and so important in my life.”

In Sonning-on-Thames, the Clooney residence is, literally and figuratively, the biggest thing around. The town hugs a river bend hung with willows; it is quiet, English-garden lovely, and half an hour from the Heathrow curb. (Beyond constant travel for their jobs, the Clooneys spend chunks of the year in L.A., where they have a “low-key” house—“not such an entertaining space,” Amal says—and in Como, for the summer.) The staff at the inn nearby, the French Horn, know their friends and family on sight. A local dinner theater puts on productions such as The Hound of the Baskervilles (“An age-old curse. . . . A ravenous monster . . .”), and, when the Clooneys make it to the shows, George meets with the actors to cheer them on.

“Are you brave? Do you want to do the outside?” Amal asks me as snow blows in various directions. She pulls on a winter coat and trudges out. The Thames, around the island, narrows to a few yards of babbling water crossed by two small bridges, one to either bank. “We had to add loads of trees,” she says: The foliage helps to obscure gaping sight lines from paths nearby.

Abutting the house is a small, glass-covered garden room full of citrus trees. Beyond that is a pool, and a glass-fronted pool house decorated as a lounge—“the party zone,” Clooney says. At one end is a bar; white terrycloth robes (monogram: A&G) hang ready. In the back of the room is a photo booth that produces twin copies of every print: One copy goes home with the guests, and the other goes up on the bulletin board here. “You can tell the ones that are from 3:00 a.m., with people in bathrobes,” Clooney says with a chuckle. “Then there are ones that are just, like, George in a hat.”

From time to time, the pool house becomes a workspace. Both Amal and George have offices upstairs: His has the air of a postwar study, with overstuffed leather furniture, and hers, light-filled and nested under a slope in the roof, could be a barrister’s chambers in the city. She mainly works from home these days, so the office is well equipped. There are false-front cupboards (made to look like leather-bound law books but actually stocked with folders of research) and, on a stand by a window, her barrister’s horsehair wig. “You get it when you’re a really junior lawyer making no money,” she says. “You walk out having spent $1,000 on something that’s going to make you look really bad—especially if you’re a brunette.” Generally, she explains, a barrister’s degree of experience can be gauged by the filthiness of his or her wig.

Yet her office, having only one desk, is ill suited to collaboration, which is increasingly required. For the past couple of years, Clooney has been writing a book with Philippa Webb, her Hague officemate, now on the faculty of King’s College London. The book is called The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law—“a real page-turner!” she says—and is ambitious: It seeks to synthesize a full canon of international court literature to create a sort of practical manual for lawyers and judges across the world. Clooney and Webb have collaborated on articles before (last year, in the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, they recommended a new international-law standard for “the right to insult”: a free-speech position), and in a couple of days they’ll begin a writing intensive, as they do from time to time: Webb comes to Sonning, they commandeer a table in the pool house, and Clooney stress-nibbles unholy amounts of sour candy. They write from early morning until night. “We say this time we’ll finish the book, but our husbands are skeptics,” Clooney says. “They’ve heard that before.”

At the back of the pool house, she swings open a door to a plush, sixteen-seat screening room. There are candy jars in the corner and a popcorn machine in the back. “This is totally George’s zone,” she explains. “He does editing here, and I come in and get snacks.

“That’s the river over there,” she says as we exit, leading a pathway across virgin snow. She opens the door to a rustic one-room cottage: the river house. There’s a fireplace for the winter and, for the summer, two swing benches on a little porch out back. “I tried to incorporate something of Kentucky,” she says. (It’s George’s home state.) “I designed them so they were going that way”—she gestures to the river—“but George told me, no, in the South, they go this way, facing each other. Which is nice, I think.”

We head inside, where the twins have woken up from a nap. Their nanny brings over Alexander; he gives a big grin as Clooney draws him up into her arms.

“Hi, Mummy’s love!” she exclaims, swooping him through the air. “Say hi to Nathan. Hi, Uncle Nathan! Are you eating again? As you can see, he’s quite a healthy eater.” Not even a year old, Alexander looks exactly like George in a way plain to everybody in the world but his father. (George has finally conceded, possibly, a slight—extremely slight—resemblance around the eyebrows.) Ella, people generally agree, looks like her mother (“Thank God,” George has said).

Balancing motherhood and career is a work in progress—and that’s even for a woman sustained by unusual wealth, with a nanny, a chef, an assistant, and other household staffers. At the moment, “quality time” is in the morning. “Between six and eight in the morning we get to have them in our bed—I don’t schedule any calls before eight,” she says. “When I was nursing, it was much more complicated, because there are two. I had all manner of weird cushions and pillows and machines.”

Alexander goes back to his sister. Soon a FaceTime call flashes across her phone. Clooney flops back on the couch cushions and answers.

It is George. “Hello, my love!” Amal exclaims. “How’s everything?”

“Fine,” he replies, in a happy, tired way that seems to suggest any concerns are not worth bringing up. “Everything’s fine.” He is back in L.A., on a break from shooting a commercial. He is dressed in literal shining armor.

They check in; he asks about “the knuckleheads” (the twins). This is the first time since their birth that he’s been away, and the separation, Amal later tells me, has nagged at him more than he’d expected. Then she has to sign off to prepare for a work call. They gaze affectionately at each other through the screen.

“Goodbye, my love,” she says as the app goes dark.

In an email that evening, Clooney urges me to drop by the next day for lunch, and, when I come, her arms are full of subdued, crinkle-faced babies, just arisen from another nap. Ella, wearing a tiny dress, studies me with such scrutiny that I feel quietly judged. (The verdict seems to be poor.) Her mother is wearing an inverse variation on her previous day’s outfit: a leopard-print vintage Leonard dress with leather boots to the thigh. Much has been made of Clooney’s first-rate closet—an attentive WordPress blog is devoted solely to her wardrobe—and although it can irk her when her dais outfits are discussed more avidly than her human rights cases, she’s at peace with a balance of fashion in her life. “I hate the idea that you somehow, as a human being, have to be put in a box,” she says. “There’s no reason why lawyers can’t be fun—or actresses can’t be serious.” She has been working with a designer she adores to finalize her dress for May’s Met ball, which she will cochair.

When the twins begin to wail, their nanny takes over; Clooney leads me to the kitchen, where her chef has laid out food. There is a salad, spaghetti with turkey meatballs, and chicken breast with lemon sauce. We help ourselves and take a seat at a small table nearby. Two baby chairs with trays hang from the ceiling, facing each other, Kentucky-style.

The Clooneys attend March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., on March

As of late March, Clooney is back in the U.S.—she has work to do at the U.N., and she is coteaching a human rights–law course as a visiting Columbia professor—but her attention has been turned Stateside for other reasons, too. In the wake of the shooting of seventeen people in Parkland, Florida, she and George donated half a million dollars to the student-led March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. (Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and others quickly matched the donation.) Both Clooneys attended the march.

“I’ve seen lots of commentary where people have tried to say, ‘This isn’t about having too many guns or allowing semiautomatic and automatic weapons to be purchased too easily—surely this is about mental health, or about violence and movies,’ ” she says. “The fact is, there are violent movies all over the world, and there are mental-health issues in other countries. But this doesn’t happen in other developed countries. The difference is guns, and how widely and easily available they are.

“I think the Australian example is instructive,” she goes on, referencing the 1996 massacre of 35 people in Tasmania that inspired a comprehensive change to Australian gun law (including the banning of semiautomatic rifles and shotguns). “They had a mass shooting, then they did this commonsense legal reform following that, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since.”

The march donation is by no means their first philanthropic project together. In 2016, George and Amal launched the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which aims to help do, on the community level, a version of what Amal does in court. Last year, it partnered with UNICEF to support eight Lebanese schools serving 3,000 Syrian refugees. In the longer term, it is working on a comprehensive global trial-monitoring program—like election monitoring, except for courts—called TrialWatch.

For such reasons, Clooney is optimistic about the exercise of global justice. Yet she says that free speech is more, not less, imperiled than it was when she began to practice. “Governments can’t get away as easily with taking someone out into the street and shooting them,” she says. “But they can get away fairly easily with using the court system to throw someone in prison.

“The same things keep happening again, and that’s the tragedy,” she continues. Outside, the snow has stopped at last. “We had genocide in Bosnia and then again in Rwanda. Somehow, the system has not evolved to a place where these atrocities are being prevented, nor are they even being properly addressed afterward.” It is only when the guilty of the world are dragged into the light of the judicial process, she thinks, that young women like Murad will be able to live in safety.

“There’s a lot of work still to be done,” Clooney says.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prove you Human *