Criticism rises over David Boies' role in Weinstein's 'army of spies'

David Boies David Boies
Photo: Rick Kopstein/ALM

Criticism has been escalating today (7 November) against star litigator David Boies after The New Yorker reported that the Boies Schiller Flexner chairman, a longtime legal adviser to Harvey Weinstein, contracted with a controversial agency linked with former Israeli Mossad agents to derail the publication of a New York Times article about Weinstein’s alleged predatory conduct with women.

Boies signed a July 2017 contract with Israeli private intelligence agency Black Cube as part of his efforts to protect Weinstein’s reputation, with this move happening as his firm was  separately representing The New York Times in a libel case, The New Yorker reported. Boies was also involved in Weinstein’s relationship with PSOPS, another investigative firm, the magazine said.

Reaction from The New York Times was swift.

“We learned today that the law firm of Boies Schiller and Flexner secretly worked to stop our reporting on Harvey Weinstein at the same time as the firm’s lawyers were representing us in other matters. We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe. It is inexcusable and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies,” the paper said in a statement late Monday.

On Twitter, Boies, who did not respond to messages seeking comment for this article, fared poorly too.

“You’re David Boies. Your obituary will say you helped extend marriage rights to millions. This is what you do next?” tweeted a senior editor from The Atlantic.

In comments included in the The New Yorker article, titled “Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies“, Boies said: “We should not have been contracting with and paying investigators that we did not select and direct. At the time, it seemed a reasonable accommodation for a client, but it was not thought through, and that was my mistake. It was a mistake at the time.”

Boies, whose own film finance venture has done business with The Weinstein Co, described for The American Lawyer earlier this autumn what his role would and wouldn’t entail in representing Weinstein.

He said that he wouldn’t be helping Charles Harder of Beverly Hills-based Harder Mirell & Abrams, who threatened a $50m suit against The New York Times over its report alleging that Weinstein sought sexual favours from actresses, sometimes in workplace settings, for years.

Since then, Weinstein terminated his relationship with Harder and the libel suit was never filed.

Boies also said his role would not be to address “the subject matter of various news stories” published since the initial article detailing sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein, including The New Yorker‘s bombshell report that included rape allegations.

Weinstein has denied the newer allegations, specifically stating that he has not engaged in sex that was not consensual.

Boies, his firm and his film finance company, Boies/Schiller Film Group (BSFG), have multiple other ties to Weinstein, his brother Robert Weinstein (now head of The Weinstein Co) and the company itself. BSFG has co-produced movies with The Weinstein Company, such as Jane Got a Gun, a 2015 film starring Natalie Portman, and Gold,  a 2016 film starring Matthew McConaughey.

Boies and his partners Charles Fox Miller and Theodore “Ted” Uno, both of whom are divorce lawyers, represented Robert Weinstein, now separated from his ex-wife.

Boies also represented Harvey Weinstein during his dispute with board members of a nonprofit aids research organisation, which led to allegations that the film producer had used $600,000 in charitable contributions for commercial purposes.