We know that serial abusers who are prominent people must have had a large cadre of enablers who either assisted them or looked away and did not raise any alarms. University of Oregon law professor Elizabeth Tippett discusses a new book She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story, and focuses on what the book says about all the lawyers who assisted and enabled him to get away with all the awful things he did.
The book portrays Weinstein as a monster.
He is a predator who traps female employees and actresses in an impossible maze where every path ends in unwanted touching, indecent exposure or assault. He is a beast who punches his brother in the face at the office as other executives watch impassively. He is a bully, looming over Kantor in the lobby of the Times building. He tells her he didn’t do “the terrible things that women were accusing him of.” Then he added, “I’m worse.”
Weinstein is unrepentant and irredeemable, which in a way limits his agency over his actions. Once a monster, always a monster.
The true condemnation in Kantor and Twohey’s book – if you can call it that, since they tell the story in the third person with some journalistic reserve – is leveled at the lawyers complicit in the cover-up. For they chose to help Weinstein instead of the women he victimized.
The list includes prominent lawyers such as David Boies and Lanny Davis. Boies succeeded in getting the New Yorker and the New York Times to scrap articles on Weinstein. Some of the lawyers had feminist credentials, such as Gloria Allred and her daughter Lisa Bloom who had clients who had challenged Weinstein.
Bloom foolishly thinks she can lecture Weinstein into changing his ways. Instead, the book suggests that Weinstein has the upper hand, by cutting a deal to produce a miniseries based on her book, “Suspicion Nation.”
Most notably, they reference the secret settlements Gloria Allred and her firm negotiated in explosive cases over the years – including one involving Weinstein. The book also implicates the many other unnamed lawyers who pushed their clients to accept secret settlements in the $100,000 range.
Tippett discusses the options that lawyers have in dealing with monsters like Weinstein, both as a client and as an adversary.
A lawyer’s general duty of loyalty as applied to a bad client like Weinstein can be fulfilled in a variety of ways. You might use the David Boies strategy of plowing forward despite the facts, or try Lanny Davis’ approach of limiting the fallout. Lisa Bloom’s attempts to lecture her client can sometimes work, though it becomes a form of rationalization once it’s clear your client won’t change. The last option is to just fire your client, which other Weinstein lawyers might very well have done.
But as we have seen with Jeffrey Epstein, dangle enough money in front to of people, and ethics tends to go out the window.