Camera-ready celebrity lawyer Lisa Bloom—whose enthusiastic and lucrative work for accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein two years ago reduced her sterling reputation to rubble—has been struggling in recent weeks to rebuild her public image as a champion of victimized women.
The 58-year-old Bloom—who in 2017 also signed another wildly off-brand client, fired Amazon Studios chief and accused sexual harasser Roy Price, to combat credible allegations by The Man in the High Castle producer Isa Hackett—is toiling to reclaim her feminist credentials with several high-profile lawsuits.
This week Bloom filed Fox Nation host Britt McHenry’s sexual harassment and retaliation complaint against Fox News and her onetime cohost Tyrus Murdoch. In September—along with her famous mother, feminist attorney Gloria Allred—Bloom surfaced as the lawyer representing a group of women who were allegedly victimized by the late convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
“The reality is that while there are some journalists who are intent on judging me based on one client [actually two known clients, Weinstein and Price], the myriad victims who come to our firm for help, including Britt, understand and appreciate that our team continues to fight and win the good fight on behalf of those who are standing up and speaking truth to power,” Bloom argued in an email that included a lengthy defense of her publicity-centric law practice (see below).
But a host of critics—including actress Rose McGowan, several journalists, fellow lawyers and a former client—aren’t buying Bloom’s media-friendly rehabilitation campaign.
“Lisa Bloom wants us to forget who she really is. I know, we know. We will not forget,” McGowan told The Daily Beast. “There are some actions that cannot be undone. In my opinion, she is wildly untrustworthy. I wish any of her clients luck. They’ll need it.”
Two years ago, when Bloom’s behind-the-scenes work for the now-criminally indicted Weinstein became public knowledge, she promptly quit the studio head’s legal team, expressed regret, and embarked on a highly publicized media tour, on television and in print, in which she claimed that she had simply been trying to educate Weinstein—whom she let off the hook as “an old dinosaur learning new ways”—to the injuries he’d inflicted on women and get him to apologize to his victims.
“Having represented a lot of those accusers, I know how damaging that is to them, how hurtful, how scary,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s emotionally devastating. Because I had had that experience so many times with so many women I thought changing the response from the accused to immediately apologizing, expressing remorse, vowing to do better and never disrespecting the accusers would be a good thing for the victims.”
Unfortunately for Bloom, however, two recent bestselling books—She Said by New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey and Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow—cast a far less charitable light on Bloom’s exertions on behalf of Weinstein.
Kantor and Twohey’s book, which notes that Weinstein paid Bloom a $50,000 retainer and $895 an hour, revealed that the lawyer had collaborated with Black Cube, the private Israeli spy agency Weinstein hired to gather information on his accusers. The book also published a lengthy memo in which Bloom enumerated the ways in which her client could discredit McGowan, who accused the Hollywood mogul of raping her two decades earlier at the Sundance Film Festival.
“It was a treat to speak with you today, though yes, we’d all prefer better circumstances,” Bloom’s memo to Weinstein began. “I’ve spent the rest of the day reading Jack and Sara’s thorough reports about Rose, who truly comes across as a disturbed pathological liar…
“I feel equipped to help you against the Roses of the world, because I have represented so many of them. They start out as impressive, bold women, but the more one presses for evidence, the weaknesses and lies are revealed. She doesn’t seem to have much going on these days except her rapidly escalating identity as a feminist warrior, which seems to be entirely based on her online rants… Clearly she must be stopped in her ridiculous, defamatory attacks on you. She is dangerous.”
Farrow’s book, meanwhile, details how Bloom approached him with an offer to help his early NBC News reporting on Hollywood non-disclosure agreements, and swore secrecy when Farrow, a fellow attorney, told her in strict confidence that he was actually focusing on Weinstein.
Bloom gave him multiple assurances that his secret was safe with her. Months later, after he began receiving demand letters from Team Weinstein, Farrow confronted her. He writes: “The last time I answered a call from Lisa Bloom that summer, I expressed astonishment. ‘Lisa, you swore, as an attorney and a friend, that you wouldn’t tell his people,’ I said. “Ronan,’ she replied. ‘I am his people.’ ”
In a text exchange with The Daily Beast, Farrow declined to comment on Bloom’s rehab campaign. But Rich McHugh, Farrow’s NBC News producer, said: “Lisa Bloom, like David Boies, who also worked on behalf of Weinstein to silence victims, has no business now representing victims. I think it’s a question for the New York Bar, actually.” (Boies has denied wrongdoing.)
A second journalist, The Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters, broke the story about Amazon Studio chief Roy Price’s misconduct that resulted in his dismissal—but not before tangling with Bloom. As one of Price’s attorneys, she spread the erroneous claim—without a speck of evidence—that Masters had been soliciting a contribution from Price for her public radio show, The Business, and sought revenge when he didn’t ante up.
“I’m surprised anyone would hire somebody like Lisa Bloom, who is clearly ethically compromised,” said Masters, a former colleague of this writer at The Washington Post. “The quickest Google search should make it very clear that she is not someone who should be trusted.”
Two prominent attorneys who represent sexual harassment victims, meanwhile, also were critical of Bloom.
“I was sad and angry to to see a lawyer who brands herself as a women’s advocate offer to use her knowledge of the pain and vulnerability she witnessed in her own sexual harassment clients to help a serial rapist and harasser,” said Nancy Erika Smith, who represented Gretchen Carlson in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and negotiated Carlson’s $20 million settlement payday. “That betrayal is hard to fathom.”
Smith added that she’s suspicious of Bloom’s rebranding campaign: “I don’t think you can turn true belief in fighting for women’s rights on and off like a light switch. (For David Boies either!)”
New York attorney Douglas Wigdor, who also specializes in workplace harassment litigation, told The Daily Beast: “What strikes me as being really disingenuous is the way she’s held herself out as a feminist and not just a litigator who would take on clients regardless of their political persuasions or social beliefs. But when you hold yourself out as a champion of women’s rights and a feminist—and you send a memo such as the one she sent to Weinstein—it undermines all the work you say you’ve been doing, attacks victims and is very demeaning. That’s what’s most troubling.”
Wigdor, who represented McHenry in her case against Fox News prior to Bloom, added: “I’m a Donald Trump supporter, and everyone expects me to take on these sorts of cases [such as helping an accused sexual harasser] but you wouldn’t expect somebody who continually rants about Donald Trump and holds herself out as a feminist rights advocate.”
Former Fox News contributor Tamara Holder, a Chicago-based attorney who specializes in representing workplace harassment victims and other targets of institutional abuse, hired Bloom for a sexual harassment complaint that resulted in a $2.5 million settlement. But, as reported by The Daily Beast, Holder had many problems with what she considered Bloom’s less-than-careful lawyering.
“Lisa has escaped accountability as a lawyer,” Holder said. “Lisa is a fictitious champion of women’s rights. Lisa secretly worked for rich and powerful men accused of hurting women… She has hurt countless women as well as the women’s rights movement.”
Holder, however, added: “We all make mistakes. Maybe Lisa has learned he lesson, had a re-birthing, and this is her come-to-Jesus moment. But buyer beware.”
Here is Bloom’s statement to The Daily Beast:
In the 33 years I've been in practice, I've successfully represented hundreds of discrimination, harassment and abuse victims. Like many attorneys in my field, our practice represented both victims and accused persons, though the overwhelming majority (about 95%) were victims. Two years ago, after the first woman went on record accusing him of assault, I immediately resigned and apologized for my involvement in the Weinstein matter, and took my law firm 100% victim side to prevent that mistake from ever happening again.
The Bloom Firm, one of the largest victim side law firms in the country, today represents many dozens of victims. Since 2017 we have won major legal victories against Bill Cosby, Paul Marciano, Bill O’Reilly and many others, and one of the biggest 2019 sexual harassment jury verdicts in the state (currently at over $15 million, against billionaire Alki David.) We are fighting for victims of transgender harassment and antigay discrimination. We represent five Jeffrey Epstein victims and are fighting for accountability from his estate. We are fighting a sexual harassment case against a sitting appellate judge that other lawyers were afraid to take, and a revenge porn case against the Los Angeles Police Department. Every day my team and I are proud to fight for our clients, most of whom are not celebrities and are deserving of the justice they seek. Finally, I’m proud to note that my attorney peers have voted me “SuperLawyer” every year for the past six years, and that my clients consistently post five-star reviews.
—With additional reporting by Lachlan Cartwright.