EXCLUSIF: Photos show budding romance between Johnny Depp and his libel lawyer girlfriend during his defamation trial in Virginia in APRIL – as it’s revealed the two are now seriously dating
Johnny Depp is in a romantic relationship with a wealthy London-based lawyer who previously represented him in one of his libel battles, sources close to the actor have told DailyMail.com.
Attorney Joelle Rich, 37, was on the Hollywood star’s legal team during his lawsuit against UK tabloid The Sun in 2020, and more recently supported him in his explosive defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard in Virginia in April this year.
And it appears the romance between the two was going strong even back then, with exclusive DailyMail.com photos showing the secret lovebirds walking close together as they left the Fairfax County Courthouse at the end of proceedings.
Throughout the six-week trial, Rich was often seen leaving court with Depp in his SUV daily despite not being his official counsel in the case.
The Hollywood star at one point was even spotted placing his hand on the libel lawyer’s back in a caring gesture.
The romance between Johnny Depp, 59, and his new lawyer girlfriend Joelle Rich, 37,appeared to be going strong even as far back as April, during his explosive defamation trial in Virginia , exclusive DailyMail.com photos show
Rich was often seen leaving court with Depp in his SUV daily throughout the trial, despite not being his official counsel in the case
Exclusive DailyMail.com photos showing the secret lovebirds walking close together as they left the Fairfax County Courthouse in May 2022
The Hollywood star at one point was even spotted placing his hand on the libel lawyer’s back in a caring gesture
Rich escorted the Pirates of the Caribbean star out of the courthouse, watching him as he waved to fans
At the time, it was not know that Depp’s close association to Rich went beyond an attorney-client relationship.
Sources say Rich had also stayed with him at the Ritz-Carlton in nearby McLean, Virginia, where Depp had been hunkered down for the duration of the trial from April to late May.
The two also dined together with the rest of his legal team at The Palm steakhouse next door to the swanky hotel.
Rich is a partner in the international law firm Schillings whose clients include Prince Harry and wife Meghan.
The mother-of-two is said to be separated from her financier husband Jonathan Rich and the couple are thought to be getting divorced.
On Thursday, a source told US Weekly: ‘Their chemistry is off the charts’. The insider added: ‘It’s serious between them. They are the real deal.’
Rich represented the actor in his ill-fated libel battle against the Sun at London’s High Court in July 2020 after the newspaper branded him a ‘wife beater’ in an article.
The article had stated there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ that Depp had engaged in acts of domestic violence while married to Amber Heard.
Edward Scissorhands star Depp lost his battle after a High Court judge, sitting without a jury, ruled that Heard’s evidence of abuse she suffered was ‘substantially true’.
The verdict was slammed at the time by Depp’s lawyers who described it as ‘perverse’ and ‘bewildering’.
Sources say Depp’s and Rich’s ‘chemistry is off the charts,’ noting that it’s the real deal for them
Rich represented the actor in his ill-fated libel battle against the Sun at London’s High Court in July 2020 after the newspaper branded him a ‘wife beater’ in an article
At the time, it was not know that Depp’s close association to Rich went beyond an attorney-client relationship
Sources say Rich – pictured arriving at Fairfax County Court on May 26 – had also stayed with him at the Ritz-Carlton in nearby McLean, Virginia, where Depp had been hunkered down for the duration of the trial from April to late May
Reports say Rich was present in the Virginia courtroom to provide ‘support’ for the Oscar-nominated star
Rich was not part of Depp’s legal team in his separate defamation battle against Heard in the United States which he won earlier this year in Fairfax, Virginia.
But Us Weekly reported that Rich was present in the Virginia courtroom to provide ‘support’ for Oscar-nominated Depp.
Rich who was born Joelle Rashti is the daughter of wealthy property magnates and grew up in the leafy north London suburb of Mill Hill.
She attended the nearby North London Collegiate School, an independent day school for girls which has a number of famous ex-pupils including Esther Rantzen and Rachel Weisz.
The school in Edgware currently has fees of £22,308 ($25,146) per year.
Rich went to Birmingham University in 2003, where she studied law and is thought to have met her future husband Jonathan Rich.
She took a further legal qualification in 2006 after graduating, before starting as a trainee solicitor – and then qualifying – with global legal giant DLA Piper in London where she focused on intellectual property, médias, and sport litigation.
Rich joined leading privacy and reputation management lawyers Schillings in 2011 around a month after she married her husband Jonathan at a wedding in Tuscany, Italy.
She was eventually promoted to partner of the law firm which represents the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and actress Emma Watson. It is believed that she earns more than £250,000 (~$281,000) a year.
Johnny Depp is reportedly in a ‘serious’ relationship with London-based attorney Rich, who represented him in his unsuccessful 2020 libel trial against British newspaper The Sun. They are pictured together at his recent defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard, with a source claiming that Rich attended the case to offer ‘support’ to the actor
The Pirates of the Caribbean star was seen arriving at the Fairfax County Court for the Amber Heard defamation trial in May
The reports about Rich and Depp’s alleged romance come after he faced months of furious speculation that he was dating another attorney – Camille Vasquez (illustré), who was part of the legal team who represented him in his recent defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard
Depp is pictured here returning from a break in the May defamation trial, escorted by Rich
Johnny Depp pictured with Ms Rich during the London libel court battle against the Sun in July 2020
Rich’s biography on the Schillings website says she ‘works to defend [clients’] reputations against false and defamatory allegations in print, online, and on social media.’
Her focus is said to be on guarding her clients’ ‘privacy from unwarranted intrusion and media attention’.
Rich spoke out for Depp in March last year after he was denied permission to appeal.
She told Deadline at the time that she ‘seriously questioned’ the UK judge’s decision, adding that Depp was looking forward to ‘presenting the complete, irrefutable evidence of the truth in the U.S. libel case against Ms. Heard where she will have to provide full disclosure’.
Rich, who is a partner at Schillings, which also represents Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, is reportedly going through a divorce from her husband, Jonathan (illustré), with whom she shares two children
Rich’s husband trained as an accountant after graduating from Birmingham, working with global consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers before joining corporate finance group Bluebox where he is a director.
Rich and her mother Ava Rashti took part in a feature for a bridal magazine shortly before her Tuscany wedding, partly held in a villa where the film Room With a View was filmed in 1985.
The Merchant Ivory romantic drama based on the EM Forster novel starred Helena Bonham Carter and Julian Sands as young lovers with a supporting cast including Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith.
The picture spread in the magazine showed Rich wearing a £10,000 (~$11,200) Duchesse-satin wedding dress by Phillipa Lepley, a designer with a bridal store on Fulham Road, South Kensington, and assorted pieces of diamond and gold jewelry worth £20,000 (~$22,500)
Her mother also dressed up in a £2,000 (~$2,250) silk dress by Stewart Parvin, a De Beers diamond ring worth £8,000 (~$9,000) diamond and platinum earrings worth £5,300 (~$5,960) and £395 (~$444) Jimmy Choo shoes.
Rich later told another magazine about the wedding, saying: ‘We wanted to get married abroad and decided on Florence as soon as we saw the synagogue.
‘Our venue was a beautiful Tuscan villa where A Room With A View was filmed.’
She went on: ‘It had a huge garden where we could fit the tables and a dance floor. This is important at Jewish weddings as guests like to dance during dinner!
‘The reception was a luxurious Italian banquet. We used gold tableware and furniture and a combination of flowers, herbs and fruit for the table displays. Candles were placed everywhere to ensure a romantic effect.
‘We had 290 guests. Each time I tried to thank them I started to cry and had to be dragged off the stage by my mother.’
According to UsWeekly, Depp (seen in 2017) and Rich began their romance ‘discreetly’ with an insider claiming that they would meet up at hotels during the early days of their relationship
A bad end: Depp and Heard split in 2017. Seen here at the Met Gala in 2014 in NYC
She is now a celebrity: Attorney Camille Vasquez was seen on September 10 in Beverly Hills
Her advice to other brides was: ‘Focus on you and your groom – the reason you’re there in the first place.’
She and Jonathan, now 38, went on to live together in a property worth £1.7 million around the corner from the family home where she grew up.
It is unclear when their marriage soured but they are now understood to be living apart, although Ms Rich apparently continues to use her husband’s surname.
False rumours had swirled that Depp was in a relationship with another lawyer – 38-year-old Camille Vasquez – who was a part of his team during his defamation trial in Virginia.
Vasquez denied all speculation about a romance with the star – and DailyMail.com later revealed that she was in fact in a relationship with Edward Owen, a British executive for the firm WeWork which rents out office space.
The graduate of Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles slammed the reports of a romance as ‘sexist’, telling People magazine in June: ‘It’s also an unethical charge being made.’
Vasquez added: ‘It’s unfortunate and it’s disappointing, but at the same time it kind of comes with the territory. I can’t say I was all that surprised.’
Depp sued Heard, 36, in Virginia over a 2018 op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post where she claimed to be a victim of domestic violence.
The jury ruled in his favor in June, and she was ordered to pay him $10.35million in damages.
Heard was also awarded $2million in compensatory damages after the jury found that one of Depp’s lawyers had made a defamatory statement about her.
Depp claimed to have lost movie roles over Heard’s accusations that he abused her during their ill-fated and brief marriage which lasted little more than a year.
But after he won the defamation case, he had a career resurgence. His return to popularity was cemented when he appeared at the 2022 MTV VMAs in a moon suit.
Moon man: Depp claimed to have lost movie roles after Heard’s accusations that he abused her. But after he won the defamation case, he had a career resurgence. His return to popularity was cemented when he appeared at the 2022 MTV VMAs in a moon suit