Amber Heard is out with the old, in with the new when it comes to her legal representation -- scrapping a key attorney on her team ... and bringing in the big guns.
The actress, who is currently appealing the Johnny Depp verdict, announced Monday that she's hired the law firm Ballard Spahr as she ventures into an appellate court ... which she apparently thought warranted a fresh set of eyes to review the case as well as evidence.
The lead attorneys from the firm that are coming on ... David L. Axelrod (not the Obama/CNN guy) and Jay Ward Brown -- both of whom successfully defended the NYT against a defamation suit recently brought by Sarah Palin ... a First Amendment case, their specialty.
Amber is keeping Ben Rottenborn onboard with the addition of Axelrod and Brown -- but she is losing one lawyer ... Ms. Elaine Bredehoft, who was lead counsel in the trial. Her departure from the team isn't really explained beyond simply saying she's stepping down.
EB says it's the perfect time to "pass the baton" and that she's done her due diligence in making sure the new team is up to speed. Frankly, Elaine took a bit of a thrashing, metaphorically, during her representation -- that seems to be the consensus anyway.
As for the new boys ... DLA and JWB say, "We welcome the opportunity to represent Ms. Heard in this appeal as it is a case with important First Amendment implications for every America." They add they're confident the appellate court will interpret the law in their favor and clear AH's name.
A rep for Amber says, "When it comes to protecting the fundamental right of Freedom of Speech, we look at the jury’s decision -- to paraphrase a famous quote -- not 'as the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.' A different court warrants different representation, particularly as so much new evidence is now coming to light."
Meanwhile, Johnny's getting a move-on with life ... the dude's now directing a movie with his old pal, Al Pacino, as a partner.