Harvey Weinstein scandal serves up twists and turns for Hollywood producer's legal entourage

Resignations, terminations and even a hiring took place at high speed during the weekend, for several lawyers caught up in the controversy emanating from Oscar-winning film producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged actions in Hollywood and elsewhere.

The stage was set last Thursday (5 October) when The New York Times published a story claiming that Weinstein had for decades pursued sexual favours from young women who came in contact with him, hoping to advance their movie careers.

According to The New York Times, Weinstein reached settlements with women who attempted to hold him accountable for his behaviour. In exchange for the payouts, he had the women sign nondisclosure agreements. Weinstein has denied the allegations in story and threatened through one of his lawyers, Charles Harder of Beverly Hills-based firm Harder Mirell & Abrams, to sue the newspaper for $50m in damages.

Lisa Bloom, a high-profile plaintiffs lawyer and women’s rights advocate who has previously represented sexual harassment victims, defended Weinstein in The Times story and another published late last week by The American Lawyer. Bloom had joined a powerhouse legal team representing Weinstein that included Harder and Boies Schiller Flexner chairman David Boies, a longstanding adviser to the film executive and his namesake company.

However, by Saturday (7 October), Bloom tweeted and told reporters that she had resigned from her role as Weinstein’s so-called feminist adviser. In the interim, critics, including her mother, lawyer Gloria Allred, pounced on Bloom, who also had made a deal with The Weinstein Company to have a book she wrote serve as the narrative behind a future film. The New York Times reported that board members at The Weinstein Company had also criticised Bloom’s role.

One board member, Lance Maerov, in an email obtained by The Times, wrote that Bloom was “fanning the flames and compounding the problem”, and asked that she step away from her representation of Weinstein himself.

The Weinstein Company has since confirmed that it hired Debevoise & Plimpton litigation co-chair John Kiernan in New York to conduct an internal investigation into the allegations against Weinstein.

Three board members have resigned from the New York-based company, one of the largest mini-major film studios in North America, since The Times’ first story was published last week.

By Sunday night, The Weinstein Company’s four remaining board members, including Weinstein’s brother, Robert Weinstein, had chosen to terminate his role, according to multiple news reports. Lanny Davis, a former White House special counsel and partner at several Am Law 100 firms, had also resigned from Weinstein’s legal team.

Photo credit: David Shankbone