Amber Melville-Brown studied at the College of Law in London and now runs the media and reputation team at international law firm, Withers. She acts for wealthy people, their families, businesses, and philanthropic interests, representing clients whose reputations are threatened by the media. She was named as The Times Lawyer of the Week and was featured in The Independent’s ‘Defame Academy’ among the few successful women lawyers in defamation law.
‘When I was a trainee [at Simons Muirhead & Burton] I assisted the firm’s client Time Out magazine by taking home the A3 black and white proofs over the weekend, to read and raise any potential legal issues before publication the following week. That’s not perhaps everyone’s cup of tea for a fun weekend, but seeing the finished product on the shelf, “safe” as a result, was a huge boon to me. I was in love with what I understood was “media law” from that moment on, so I decided I would be a media lawyer.’
Melville-Brown’s days are full and varied. She explains: ‘I spend my time protecting and defending reputations and brands’ privacy and confidentiality. That may include advising parties in dispute, arguing over assets post-death or children pre-divorce; acting for employers to protect their sensitive and confidential business data; or for employees where they are unfairly exited and there is a resultant slur on their reputation; advising charities justifying their spending; advising businesses defending their products when they are attacked in the media, on social media or by their customers and competitors over the quality of their staff or their services.’
However, Melville-Brown doesn’t only deal with traditional media. ‘Today, in a data-heavy world where the Internet is king, information anywhere is information everywhere, so clients are under threat in print, on the radio and television, and online.’
With so much experience under her belt, Melville Brown had this to say to aspiring lawyers: ‘Some argue that specialising at an early stage in one’s career can be limiting. I have not found it so, and where I have the fire in my belly to get up every day and immerse myself in my area of law, I have not regretted it for one moment. It is probably less a case of me choosing media law, but of media law choosing me.’
And finally, aspiring lawyers ‘shouldn’t forget they’re working with people. It’s all very well knowing the relevant area of law inside out, but our legal acumen should be a given…
‘We litigators in particular…are providing a bespoke service to people often in very stressed situations, and we need to be mindful not only of the law, but also of the human beings to whom we provide our advice.’
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