The Depp v. Heard trial has propelled legal experts into TikTok fame, turning them into the internet's go-to lawyers
- The Depp v. Heard trial has propelled several
lawyersinto social mediafame.
- Many have grown hundreds of thousands of followers from their analysis and content.
Former Deputy LA District Attorney Emily D. Baker was in high school during the murder trial of former NFL star OJ Simpson in 1995.
She remembers class being practically being put on hold as teachers wheeled in television sets so students could watch the trial.
Just as audiences combed over every detail of the Simpson trial nearly three decades ago and turned courtroom proceedings into a pop
This time around Baker is doing more than just watching, having built a dedicated following of over 440,000 subscribers on
Baker, who started posting regularly on YouTube in 2020, sometimes live streams for up to six hours. The current legal battle between Depp and Heard feels to her like the final installment in a dramatic saga involving the couple that has carried on through Heard's 2018 essay detailing allegations of abuse, which did not mention Depp by name, and Depp's loss in his 2020 libel case against a British tabloid that called him a "wife-beater."
"I think people are waiting like, is this the one where there's a twist? Is Johnny Depp the hero who lost in act two but wins in act three?" Baker told Insider. "There's a deep investment, as it's streaming everyday."
Lawyers are providing legal analysis of the trial during YouTube livestreams
During Baker's livestreams, titled "Lawyer Reacts Live," viewers discuss and ask Baker questions about the trial in the chat. Some viewers appear to offer her donations, typically up to $10, for her take on things.
Baker said people have become so interested in her content because she helps them understand legal processes mentioned in the trial that they might not have previously come across.
"You don't have to sit at home and wonder, 'what does hearsay mean?' because there are lawyers all over the place saying, 'Oh, this is what it means.'" she said. "It's become almost like sports calling."
Lawyer and YouTuber Alina Mazeika, who also livestreams her commentary on the trial, told Insider that she has been using her channel to address rumors that have circulated amid social media frenzy around the trial, including shooting down an unfounded claim that Heard snorted cocaine on the stand.
"Sometimes it takes someone who's very familiar with this kind of legal process to say, 'Okay, hang on, let's take a few steps back here,'" Mazeika said.
Baker and Mazeika have both seen their YouTube subscriber counts skyrocket since the beginning of the trial on April 11, gaining over 200,000 and 170,000 followers respectively.
Lawyers are using TikTok and the trial to boost their brand
Limor Mojdehiazad, a family law litigator in LA county who has 468,000 TikTok followers, told Insider that people are really seeing the value in legal commentary and analysis, explained in layman's terms — topics which used to be inaccessible for the majority of people.
"If you give people value, and you're educating them, they really, really get addicted to the content," she said.
Mojdehiazad told Insider she's grown at least 200,000 followers since the trial began, and her videos have racked up 109 million views in the past 28 days alone. Even while working her day job, Mojdehiazad constantly gets comments pleading with her for her recap of the day's proceedings.
"They want to know what their favorite attorney is gonna say, what their favorite TikToker is gonna say," she said. "Because they're watching an eight hour live feed, and then they're going to the internet and they want more and more and more and more."
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Attorneys Maclen and Ashleigh Stanley have been posting TikTok explainers – short, scripted videos that break down legal terminology and examples – about the trial, receiving 13 million views on one 59 second video where they explained why Heard bringing Kate Moss up in her testimony might backfire on her team. (Representatives for Heard and Depp did not respond to Insider's requests for comment.)
"I think we have an opportunity to engage with people who aren't otherwise looking to be educated on legal topics explicitly," Maclen said, adding he has "been pleasantly surprised by how people want to learn about the law and how it can impact their lives if it's packaged in the right way."
@the.law.says.what #fyp #johnnydepp #amberheard #objection #jury #lawtok #edutok #defamation #foryoupage ♬ original sound - Maclen & Ashleigh
Pietro Ortolani, a professor of digital conflict resolution at Radboud University, told Insider Depp v. Heard is a good example of how social media platforms are reshaping the "open court principle," which requires that court hearings are open to the public and the media. This traditionally meant journalists attended trials and summarized what happened for the general public. But the rise of legal influencers has made legal proceedings even more accessible, Ortolani said, with the trials available for livestream and algorithmically pushed onto people's social media feeds.
"On the one hand, this phenomenon can help make justice more understandable and interesting for the general public," Ortolani said. "On the other hand, as for many forms of online information, there are no controls as to whether the information and commentary is legally and factually correct."
Legal content is seeing more activity than ever, whether its about the trial or not
TikTok's fascination with Depp v. Heard has seemingly expanded into a broader boost for content analyzing the law, with legal commentators and law firms seeing an uptick in followers and views regardless of whether they post about the trial.
Some law firms have been seeing unexpected success on the app, such as Jonathan W. Johnson, LLC, a small office in Atlanta which specializes in personal injury and other civil litigation, who now have 37,000 followers. Johnson told Insider he's only delved into the Depp v. Heard trial a little — jumping on a viral song about Heard's lawyer — but is thinking about doing it more judging by the views he's seen other legal commentators get.
Attorney Kevin Kennedy who is the face of The Kennedy Law Firm, PLLC on TikTok, only started making videos on TikTok in February, and has now grown his audience to 257,000 followers. He hasn't spoken about Depp v. Heard, but has seen a growth of over 100,000 followers since the trial began on April 11, potentially benefiting from the increased interest in legal content on the platform.
Kennedy provides legal advice on various matters, such as what to do if police show up to your house while you're having a party, or how to handle an investigator asking you to come in for questioning, always singing off with his catchphrase "Kev's got you covered." He didn't respond to Insider's request for comment.
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Mojdehiazad told Insider that law firms (particularly those on TikTok) are probably going to see an uptick in clients reaching out to them due to the Depp v. Heard trial. Depp's lawsuit may encourage even more people to pursue defamation claims, she said, despite the fact that such cases are "really, really hard to prove."
Even before the case began, Mojdehiazad said, "everyone wants to sue everyone for defamation because they wrote something that they didn't like about them." Depp's lawsuit may encourage even more people to pursue that, she said.
"I think that this case is not going to bring quality clients to law firms with regard to defamation actions," she said. "I think it's going to bring people who are complaining about things that actually don't fit into the law, because they want to sue someone that they don't like."
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