Hollywood long ago declared Johnny Depp and Amber Heard stars. But in the court of public opinion, there’s a new celebrity in the making: Camille Vasquez.
Don’t know the name? You must be on a social media cleanse.
Vasquez, 37, is just one of a team of nine attorneys deployed by Depp, who won more than $10 million in damages in his libel suit against ex-wife Heard. (The jury awarded Heard $2 million in her counter-lawsuit.) But you’d be forgiven for confusing Vasquez for one of the stars on the stand.
As she left the courthouse each day, fans (hers and Depp’s) often yelled, “We love you, Camille!” Clips of her cross-examination of Heart went viral.
Over the course of the trial, Vasquez generated admiration, speculation and adulation online. She’s being cited as an inspiration for Latinas with legal aspirations.
“Had to meet Camille Vasquez and tell her what an inspiration she is to so many Latinas!” gushed Carol Dagny (@caritodagny) on TikTok. To which Andrea (@b.andrea111) replied: “As a Latina entering my final year of law school, no one has gotten me as excited to join the field like she has!”
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That enthusiasm could well help bolster law school rolls, says Lucero Chavez Basilio, president of the Latina Lawyers Bar Association, a Los Angeles organization that has membership nationwide. Basilio says Latinas make up only 2% of the legal profession. Despite “being dressed in a suit,” Basillo says she’s been confused for a litigant or interpreter in court.
“It’s important for us to be seen as professional and competent, so we celebrate that Ms. Vasquez can be a zealous lawyer and that that’s enough,” Basilio says. “It’s wonderful she can be a model or at least an inspiration for other attorneys.”
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There has also been much praise online for Vasquez’s killer courtroom style.
“The world waited for this roasting from Camille,” wrote Mina (@ayesha13465) in a TikTok post. “Camille Vasquez is the unrivaled star of the Depp trial. Her measured tone her, incisive questions, total command of the facts and clear belief in her client her are laudable,” tweeted attorney Kathleen Zellner (@ZellnerLaw).
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So who is Vasquez?
Her page on the website of her law firm, Southern California-based Brown Rudnick, describes her simply as an associate in the litigation and arbitration practice group. Her specialties include plaintiff-side defamation suits, contract disputes, business-related torts and employment-related claims.
“Camille is adept at formulating offensive and defensive litigation strategies for private clients,” her bio says. “She also has extensive experience handling parallel reputation management and crisis communications issues arising from these engagements.”
Online reports say Vasquez was born in San Francisco to Cuban and Colombian parents, Leonel and Maria Vasquez. She has a sister who is a pediatrician in the Los Angeles area.
Amber Heard had yet to take the stand. But on social media, Johnny Depp had already won.
According to her LinkedIn page, Vasquez graduated in 2006 from the University of Southern California with a major in communication and political science. She earned her law degree in 2010 from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, and joined Brown Rudnick in 2018.
Aspects of Vasquez’s in-court demeanor during the Depp trial have generated another kind of online chatter.
Countless TikTok videos focus on hugs and notes passed between Depp and his attorney. Set to Justin Bieber’s “Peaches,” a video posted by the fan account @CamilleVasquez highlights such interactions. Asked by a TMZ reporter outside the court whether she was dating Depp, Vasquez laughed and kept on walking.
Basilio brushes off such speculation as sexist.
“We get pigeonholed as female attorneys, are we resting a hand on a shoulder, are we speaking closely in an ear?” she says. “I truly wonder if that same attention would be given to a male attorney.”
The trial that put Vasquez in the limelight has riveted millions for its insights into the often-toxic relationship between Depp and Heard.
These include Depp’s accusation that Heard sliced off his finger during a drunken fight, a charge denied by Heard, who countered that Depp sexually assaulted with a liquor bottle.
Depp sued because he claimed an op-ed piece Heard wrote in The Washington Post, in which she discussed being a victim of domestic abuse without naming Depp, has irreparably damaged his career. Heard’s attorneys have argued that Depp’s drinking, drug use and unreliability are what’s really tarnished his reputation his in Hollywood.
Vasquez’s own star may soon rise higher. Despite her junior status, she was one of two lawyers called upon to deliver Team Depp ‘s closing statements at the trial ‘s conclusion.
Basilio says that move is tactically sound.
“In any legal case, your firm has to carefully assess who your client is and who you have representing them,” she says. “The optics here are high profile. So it makes sense, given how well Ms. Vasquez is doing, to keep her up there. After all, if she can persuade a jury, that’s all that matters in the end.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Camille Vasquez, Johnny Depp’s star attorney, is inspiring Latina fans