How the Johnny Depp Trial Elevated His Attorney, Camille Vasquez, to Partner

Published: Jun 15, 2022

Topics: Law       

A promotion to partner at a distinguished law firm is a career milestone for most lawyers. For Brown Rudnick associate attorney Camille Vasquez, this milestone came to fruition shortly after the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial.

For six weeks, Vasquez and Ben Chew, the two main attorneys representing Depp, battled it out in the courtroom against Amber Heard’s lawyers. Depp was suing his ex-wife Amber Heard for defamation after Heard wrote an op-ed that he alleged damaged his reputation and career. The jury found Heard liable for defamation based on three statements in that op-ed, while also finding Depp liable for defamation based on one statement made by his attorneys. They awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and an additional $5 million in punitive damages, although the latter award was reduced to $350000 as a matter of law. Heard was awarded $2 million for her counterclaim, resulting in a net award of $8.35 million to Depp.

In the end, both Depp and Vasquez walked out of the courtroom with career-changing wins.

Following the trial, Vasquez was promoted to partner at Brown Rudnick. The announcement came sooner than we usually see from the firm. Brown Rudnick Chairman and CEO William Baldiga said in the announcement that “historically, we have reserved this announcement for the end of our fiscal year. But Camille’s performance during the Johnny Depp trial proved to the world that she was ready to take this next step now. We are incredibly proud of her and look forward to what she will accomplish as our newest partner.” 

Trials are nothing new to Vasquez. In her 10 years of experience as a trial lawyer, defamation is just one of the items in her portfolio. She often handles high-stake disputes about contracts, business, and employment. High-stakes litigation is something she excels at.

About Vasquez

Long before her success in BigLaw, she grew up in California with her American-Spanish parents, Leonel and Maria Marilia Vasquez, and sister, Shari Vasquez. The Vasquez family are no strangers to success; Camille's father is an entrepreneur who founded Lemacash Group, Inc.

Vasquez knew she wanted to be a lawyer from a young age. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communication from the University of Southern California in 2006 and graduated magna cum laude. She then went on to graduate from Southwestern Law School in 2010. After graduating from law school, she worked as an assistant for private attorneys. Vasquez then took a career step and joined Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP as an attorney in 2017. Only one year later, in 2018, she joined Brown Rudnick as an associate attorney. Today, 12 years after graduating from law school, she is now a partner at a prominent law firm.

What We Can Learn From Vasquez

During the Depp trial, Vasquez displayed her exceptional trial skills. Her cross-examination of Heard and frequent objections to the opposing side’s questions took social media by storm.

During the cross-examination, Vasquez successfully got Heard to admit that she had not donated the $7 million she received from her divorce from Depp. (Heard had previously claimed she donated all of the money to charity.) She also touched on topics such as Heard’s role in the movie Aquaman, questioning if Heard actually got the role herself or if Depp was the reason for the part.

During the redirect, Vasquez objected to many of the opposing counsel's questions. Most of these objections were sustained by the judge, and resulted in multiple approaches to the judge as Heard’s lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, was struggling to ask the right questions. Vasquez displayed unwavering confidence during the trial, and had the same poise as she delivered closing arguments.

Vasquez’s abilities are recognized by people across the globe. She has become a topic of conversation on social media, and many law firms are seeking her out. A source in a New York Post article notes, “Talent agents are circling Camille because they recognize that she is the unicorn—a smart, savvy, poised attorney whose impactful performance during the trial propelled her to a rare level of visibility.” Heard herself, in an interview with Today, said that Depp's attorneys "did a better job" while maintaining that she stood by her testimony.

Such fame is new to Vasquez, and she says it is “a bit overwhelming” according to the New York Post. However, on Good Morning America, she said, “But if I can be an inspiration to young women that want to go to law school and study and work hard, then it was all worth it.”

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