How the Social Justice Attorney continues to empower women
Today we have the great honor of sitting down with top high-profile attorney Lisa Bloom, who’s been making momentous strides in women’s rights for the past three decades.
Being born to the legendary Gloria Allred, one of our country’s most well-known and effective fighters for women’s rights, the need to advocate for quality and stand up for the underdog, runs in Lisa’s blood.
She made a name for herself by representing women in several nationally-followed cases, and has been paramount in shifting the narrative around sexual harassment and abuse, making the world a safer place for women everywhere to step forward and speak out.
In addition to her impressive career as an attorney, Lisa is also a legal analyst, a best-selling author, a successful talk show host, lover of the great outdoors, a devoted animal rights’ and environmental activist, and a prominent voice in the MeToo movement.
Please hit the play button at the top of this page and follow along below. Thank you for tuning in to today’s inspiring episode.
In this Episode
[01:33] To begin the show, Jason wants to hear Lisa’s side of the story of being wooed by a previous guest on our show, Braden Pollock. They’ve now been together for 14 years.
[04:14] Jason asks Lisa what drives her in working to defend women’s rights and with the MeToo movement. Lisa also gives us a quick update regarding a sexual harrasment case her firm has recently won.
[05:27] Lisa expresses what it’s like to work on high-profile cases like the Jeffrey Epstein trial, and how good it feels to empower the victims and get justice.
[06:31] Jason is interested in how Lisa deals with the hate she experiences while working against influential groups in these public cases. Lisa reveals she has received death threats, but chooses to ignore them. She mentions one instance where she had to contact the police.
[09:20] Lisa expounds upon the difficulty and costs of trying big cases and being able to pay her team at The Bloom Firm.
[12:11] Jason and Lisa talk about her mom, Ms. Allred, and how often they both get to see her. Lisa shares the moment she knew that her mom was big-time: while finding out where she was by turning on the tv and seeing her give a press conference.
[14:31] Jason is curious about who won the home debates between Lisa and Ms. Allred. Lisa recounts how her parents taught her the importance of critical thinking and being strong-willed.
[15:53] Jason verifies where Lisa grew up, and what she envisioned herself to be when she was younger. Lisa recalls wanting to be a writer, and how in college, she was always interested in social work and civil rights law.
[18:21] Jason would like to know the advice that Lisa has for people who want to practice law, and if she recommends them to do it. Lisa shares that her two kids went through law school, and the amount of work and hours they have put in to be the smartest in the room.
[19:47] Jason and Lisa talk about Kim Kardashian passing the Baby Bar exam. Lisa thinks anyone who is interested in law should pursue a law degree. She applauds Kim’s efforts, but doesn’t think a large social following has much influence when arguing a criminal case.
[22:46] Jason wonders if Lisa ever feels like a therapist instead of a lawyer. Lisa discusses the importance of defining her role as a lawyer, and how her firm requires that their clients talk to a therapist, since her firm primarily works with psychological injury cases.
[24:41] Jason asks Lisa if money has a significant impact in “weighing the scales of justice.” Lisa describes how money can help in determining the facts and evidence of a case.
[25:58] Lisa details how Wendy Walsh approached her about suing Bill O’Reilly for sexual harrassment, and how they managed to get him fired from the Fox News network. She demonstrates how the media can be a powerful force in bringing justice.
[30:15] Jason and Lisa consider how the fear of being countersued for defamation inhibits a lot of women from suing for sexual harrassment. Lisa tells us how she’s currently being sued for defamation by billionaire Steve Wynn.
[31:48] Lisa gives some advice for someone out there who’s thinking about pursuing a law degree. She mentions the difficulty of being a lawyer, but how rewarding it can be at the same time, depending on your reasons for practicing law.
[33:28] Lisa lists the two people that have most inspired her in her life. One of them is her mom, of course.
[34:12] Lisa shares her dreams with Jason that include hiking the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail, and being able to spend time outdoors as often as possible.
[35:52] Jason is interested in what Lisa thinks is the most common misconception about being a “celebrity lawyer.”
[36:51] Jason mentions Lisa’s show she had on Court TV and all the television news appearances she’s done, and asks if she continues to appear on these shows. Lisa adds that various multimedia platforms have helped her cases gain exposure, too.
[38:02] Jason highlights how social media, in particular, has helped bring awareness to the MeToo movement, and Lisa’s pioneering role. Lisa notes how these issues have been around for decades.
[39:22] Lisa and Jason get into veganism and how Lisa started practicing the lifestyle. She remembers being 16 years old and not wanting to eat her dog, and later, reading about how meat consumption plays a role in animal cruelty and climate change.
[41:41] Jason invites Lisa to open up even more through our signature segment, titled “Hennessey Heart-to-Heart.” We learn Lisa’s preferred last meal, her favorite place, why she loves herself, her views on fate, three things she’d wish for, and her hiking name.
[55:25] As the father of a precious little girl named Brookylnn, Jason thanks Lisa for shedding light on some of the darkness of the world. Lisa encourages Jason to raise Brooklynn to be strong and fierce. They exchange thank yous, and end today’s show.
Jason Hennessey: Lisa Bloom, thank you so much for being on the show.
Lisa Bloom: Well, thank you for having me.
Now, did Braden tug your arm to come do this?
Yes. He shoved me out the door and locked it behind me and said, “Do not come back until you’re done with Jason Hennessey’s podcast.” So, I do as I’m told.
So, for those that are just listening, Braden has been a buddy of mine for about 15 years. And I met him-
That’s longer than me then, because we’re together 14 years.
Well, no. Then no, it’s not because you were there when I met him.
Oh, then it’s-
Oh my God. I remember that.
At the bend in the river. Beautiful house.
It was. That’s where I first met Braden, and I think you were there, yeah.
I was there.
You were there. He was on the show, actually. And he told the story about how you guys met, and I wanted to see if your version-
See if it bears any resemblance to the truth?
Yeah, I want to hear your version.
Well, we all tell a story where we are the center of the story, right?
So, I know the way he tells the story, and he tells the story in a very charming way. So when people say, “How did you meet?” I usually let him go.
But he’s not here. So, I guess I get to tell.
Let’s tell it.
So I lived in New York. I was an anchor at Court TV. It was December, it was the holidays, and I attended a benefit for “Coats for the Homeless.” And I was with some friends and I knew Darren Kavinoky, who was an attorney and was Braden’s business partner, and who had been a guest on my Court TV show.
So far the story’s lined up.
Yeah. And so, I laughed and I said, “Well, that’s nice. I have a boyfriend.” And I was trying to get him to buzz off, but he would not buzz off.
And so, we ended up talking for many hours that night. And the next day I invited the two of them, plus a friend of mine, to an event where I was speaking, and they came. I found out later he had Broadway show tickets, which he canceled to go hear me speak on this dumb thing.
And Saturday night we talked a lot too. Sunday we talked, and he was leaving. And by the end of that weekend, I knew that I really liked this guy and I had to do something about the boyfriend.
So anyway, to shorten the story, a month later dumped the boyfriend, Braden and I started getting serious. And now, here we are 14 years later, married 7 years.
Very, very happily married. He’s a good guy.
Well, for those that don’t know, if you’ve been living under a rock, we’re in the presence of a great modern, I want to call you a superhero.
Well, my clients drive me. So, I have a law firm and I represent primarily victims of discrimination, harassment, and abuse.
And I hear these really harrowing stories, every day of everyday people who are taken advantage of, abused, harassed, assaulted, raped by very prominent people. And they’re always terrified. And the other side always has all the money and all the power, and I want to help them. And I really feel for them and I feel a big responsibility.
We just won a big appeal against two major law firms in a sexual harassment case that we’ve been fighting for about 5 years. There’s 850 lawyers in the law firms on the other side. There’s 10 lawyers in my law firm.
And we won. And we won because we’re smart, and we’re on the right side. And we had the facts and the law on our side and we fight really hard, but that’s very motivating.
Congratulations on the win.
Thank you. Thank you.
So, how does it feel to have such an impact and to be involved in some of these big cases that, they’re not cases that nobody knows about?
Very public cases.
So, yeah. For example, I represented eight victims of Jeffrey Epstein and we fought very hard for them. We won all eight of those cases as well. And it was really important.
There’s another guy; very rich, powerful guy. My clients were just everyday people. It feels good. The best part of what I do are the thank-you notes from my clients.
And I could get choked up talking about them. Handwritten notes about how you changed my life. A lot of my clients are suicidal when they come to me.
They didn’t think anybody would ever believe them. They think they’re worthless. Something about sexual assault that does that, to make victims feel like they should just die.
And in the course of standing up for themselves and having us fight for them, they see something else. They see that they’re worthy beings and they deserve justice. And when they get justice, it feels really good. And that’s the best part.
Yeah. Now on the opposite side, I’m sure you get, probably, a lot of bullying and hate mail and stuff like that. How do you stay grounded, with a lot of that negative?
Well, I don’t really pay any attention to it, honestly. Some of it’s funny, and we send the email around and laugh at it. The haters can’t spell. Have you ever noticed that? The yore, your, and you’re, with the apostrophe, they always get that wrong. The swear words they always get wrong. And how do you misspell Lisa Bloom, I don’t know? But they find a way. Lisa Balloon.
And it really doesn’t phase me. I have gotten a fair amount of death threats. And so, I am very careful to not put my home address on anything, by the way.
When it’s the holidays, I have to tell my friends, “Do not send me anything at my home address with my name on it.”
Send it to my office or send it to my home in my husband’s name. So, I have to be careful in that way.
There was one time where somebody was threatening my daughter. This is when I represented four women accusing Donald Trump of sexual assault in 2016. And the Trump people came out. They can be very violent and very threatening.
And so, when they threatened my daughter, I actually did have to call the police and follow up, because that crosses the line.
Of course it does.
Yeah. So you’ve got like a signature thing, right? What do you deem as a “classic Bloom case”?
…of sexual harassment, sexual assault.
And why I think of this as kind of a classic case is because I previously represented 4 women with the same claims in 2018. And as a result of those allegations, and we participated in the investigation and then we really pushed the issue, he was forced to step down in 2018 and we thought, “Okay, good.” We’ve gotten a measure of justice here.
That’s what should happen. But then in 2019 they brought him back. Inexplicably, quietly, I guess, thinking nobody would notice. And now I have three new claims against him.
And that’s just not okay. And if I’m not going to do this, who else is going to do it? There are a few other attorneys who do these kinds of cases, but not many.
Many people reach out to me and say, “You’re my last resort.” And I think, “Well, does that mean you, like, called everybody else, and I was last on your list?”
I don’t know if that’s a compliment or an insult, but there aren’t a lot of attorneys who know how to do these cases, who do them successfully, who can meet payroll every week, which I have to do to pay my team, and who can get justice for victims at the end of the day.
Yeah. And sometimes these cases are not, you’ve got to carry a lot of cost to take on these cases, right?
A lot of people don’t realize that.
People do not think about that.
So, I have a private business, I don’t get any funds from any charities or anything. I have to meet payroll every week. I have 10 attorneys and another 7 non-attorney staffers, so about 17 people.
Of course, I want to pay them well. I give them full health insurance, dental, vision, four weeks paid time off, every possible- That all costs money, and I have to come up with that money somehow. And we come up with that money by being successful. We only get paid when we win. We do everything on a contingency. So, we either settle the case or we get a verdict, and that’s when we get paid.
So, sometimes I’ve had reporters say, “Well, why do you take a cut at the end?” Nobody ever asks defense attorneys why they get paid.
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They get paid hourly.
Yeah, of course.
Often they get paid a lot more than I do. If we get zero, I recover zero, right?
So it’s a big risk, and we have to shell out costs as the case is going along for experts or jury fees or deposition fees. So it’s a lot.
So now you’ve been doing this for how long?
I’ve been practicing law since 1986. So, whatever, God knows. What is that? 35 years.
That’s a long time.
I can’t believe it.
Well, you look great.
Well, thank you.
So is this life and career that you have now, is it what you always envisioned it to be?
Honestly, no. I didn’t really think I was going to be doing this. So, when I was growing up, I did not want to be an attorney.
My mom is Gloria Allred, for people who don’t know, and she went to law school in her 30s, so I was in middle school at the time. And I watched her do it and it was hard. She really struggled. And I thought, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but it’s not that. I’m not going to do that. It looks miserable.” She was always in the library. She was always exhausted, and I didn’t want to do it.
And then I was in college. I was on the debate team. I won the National Debate Championship and my mom said, “You should go to law school.” And I said, “No.” And then she said, “Well, just take the LSAT. See how that goes.” I’m like, “Oh, all right.” So I took the LSAT and I did well.
And she said, “Well, just apply to law schools. It doesn’t have to mean anything.”
“Well, okay, I’ll apply.”
So I applied and because I had won the debate championship, I got in everywhere. Well, just except- It doesn’t have to mean anything. And next thing I know, I’m going to law school.
You’re on this path, right?
That’s what it’s like having Gloria Allred as your mother. I got duped into going to law school. Once I was there, I really liked it, actually. I really found it very interesting and I did like it. I still do, I do like it.
I see your mom often. I see her because I go to National Trial Lawyers and all the conferences and I always see her, yeah.
Well, tell her, I said, “Hello.”
I do. Yeah.
I see her once a week. We usually go have lunch out at the beach somewhere, and we’re very close. And she’s a dynamo. At 80 years old, just try to keep up with her. Good luck.
Yeah. So I want to get a little deeper into this. So mom had you young, right?
She did, she was 20.
Yeah. My mom had me at 18.
And I would say, back then they had kids younger, but I’m older than you, I’m 60. And I think 20, even then, that was pretty young.
Of course it is. Well, to have such an impactful career too, was mom kind of, she was a lawyer at 20 probably, right?
She was not?
Didn’t go to law school until her mid-30s.
So, she was a college- The way she tells it is, she got married as a freshman, she had me as a sophomore, she got divorced as a junior, and only graduated one semester late, when she was in college.
I see. Okay.
So it all happened while she was in college.
I got it.
My dad swept her off her feet. He was very cute and very charming, and ultimately, a troubled guy. And so, they got divorced.
So now, as a kid, your mom’s significance in the world, right? When did you kind of realize, wow, my mom’s doing some pretty big things?
So, she was a teacher when I was younger. And then I think I was about 13, she went to law school. I was about 16 when she finished and she started practicing law.
And one day, my stepdad and I were wondering where she was? She wasn’t around, she wasn’t answering the phone. We didn’t know where she was. And we turned on the TV and there she was, doing a press conference.
And I thought, “Okay, my mom’s kind of a big deal.”
And how old were you?
I was probably about 17.
I thought, if you have to look for your mother by turning on the TV-
And I think she was doing a press conference. She represented women, jail inmates, at Sybil Brand jail here in LA, who were chained when they were giving birth.
And she said, “That’s just wrong.” You know, they’re not going to get up and run away when they’re giving birth.
Or at least lock the door, you don’t have to chain them. That’s really barbaric.
Yeah, of course. So now you and your mom both have, probably, bold and strong personalities, right?
Right? So what was it like growing up? What did those debates look like? Did you win those debates with mom? Did she win those debates at home?
Well, of course, in my mind, I always win the debate. And I think in her mind, she always wins. But when I was a teenager, I was tough. I was not the easiest kid.
But overall, the way she raised me was to use my brain and to think, And she didn’t really care about if my nails were done or what clothes I was wearing. What she cared about was what I was thinking about, what I was reading.
I remember one time she went to a parent teacher conference at my school and all the novels that had been assigned were written by white men and she thought that was wrong. And I was kind of embarrassed. And then I thought, you know what? She’s right. That’s not cool. So, she really taught me to think deeply. And my dad as well, he was very much a free thinker.
So as adults- You’re right. Listen, and I think a lot of people are probably strong willed and have strong willed parents. My mom and I are like that now, but we’re also very close and I think we’ve learned to, kind of, agree to disagree about things and focus on things that we have in common.
Got it. Yeah. Pretty fascinating. You grew up in Philadelphia, but then you moved to LA. Is that right?
I grew up in Burbank. Beautiful Downtown Burbank as we used to call it.
Very close to here.
So when you were a kid, you said you didn’t want to be a lawyer. What did you dream of doing as a kid? What did you envision yourself being?
I really wanted to be a writer and I have written three books now, but I wanted to be a writer. And later on, when I was in college, I was interested in social work. I wanted to work with abused kids. When I was in college, I volunteered at a battered women’s shelter and I worked with the kids who most of them were abused too, and I found that to be very gratifying work.
And my mom basically said, “Well, if you want to help abused kids, you could do it as a lawyer.” And I ultimately have represented a lot of abused kids and still do.
Yeah. So it sounds like you found your purpose earlier in life.
Yeah. I mean, look, most of us don’t want to just do one thing.
Right? When you’re in high school and I’ve told my kids this, when you’re in high school, you take like seven classes and you’re supposed to be good at all seven for some reason. Nobody is. Nobody’s good at algebra and foreign language and PE. Very few people are, but then when you’re an adult you’re supposed to just do one thing. I’ve always kind of rejected that.
I have a lot of different interests. I do like practicing law and I like what I do, but I like a lot of other things too. And I think I’m a better person for being more well-rounded, I guess.
Of course. Yeah. So now when you first got into law, were you doing any other types of practices or were you always kind of focused on what you’re doing now?
Yeah. I was always interested in civil rights law. When I first started practicing law, I was doing some discrimination cases, but there really weren’t any jobs that were just civil rights jobs.
So, I took a job at my first law firm that was mostly business law, business litigation. I’ve always done litigation. And then my next job was at a bigger firm. And then I went to my mom’s firm in the ‘90s and I was there for almost 10 years. And that’s where I really learned to do what I do now.
I see. So now, what advice-? There’s people out there, like young law students that want to become attorneys? Do you tell them, “No,” or “Don’t do it”?
Well, I don’t encourage or discourage. It’s up to them. My daughter’s a lawyer and my son is a law student right now. But I didn’t encourage either of them. It was up to them.
What advice would I have for law students? Do all the reading, do the extra credit, don’t screw around. I mean, I’m a very serious person when it comes to my studies. I always was. My son right now in law school, he just made law review and got a White House internship if I can brag.
And you know what? He works really hard. He’s always working. He’s always studying. I mean, really, there’s no shortcut. And I tell my team the same thing. I expect them to dig deep, read all the cases, review all the facts, talk to the client again, read the cases again, read the statute again, think about it more deeply. You really have to dive in.
There’s a lot of lawyers now. Their competition is fierce. If you want to be a lawyer, I think most people do because they see it as a ticket to, kind of, an upper middle class life. Which maybe it still is, but there’s a lot of competition.
So how are you going to distinguish yourself from the competition? You’ve got to be the smartest person in the room, the most knowledgeable on your subject matter. I don’t think there’s any substitute for that.
No. Yeah. Kim Kardashian.
Yep. Just passed the Baby Bar.
Which I still don’t even understand what that is. Does anybody understand what the Baby Bar is?
Well, I think California is one of those states where you can become a lawyer without going to law school. Right?
I understand that part.
I think you have to take the Baby Bar and then you have to like, intern or work at a firm for a year or two.
Yeah. I understand the interning part. I don’t understand the- It’s like a little special bar exam.
I don’t know.
For little special people? She took it four times and she passed it the fourth time. Okay, great.
I think it’s probably better to go to law school, honestly. Why doesn’t she go to law school? She’s very wealthy. That’s the question I would have for her. What’s wrong with going to law school and actually learning the law?
Because you work in a law firm, you’re only going to learn what they do. She’s interested in criminal defense.
Great. Good for her. No, really. With all due respect, that’s great. But you should still learn the full array of law school classes because it all comes to bear.
It sounds like the easy approach, right?
Yep. But let me ask you this though. Right? So Kim Kardashian, let’s just say she becomes, I don’t know if it’s officially licensed to practice law, but I’m assuming you have to be.
Not yet, right?
Not yet, but eventually she will be, right?
Yeah. Wow. Yeah.
Right? That’s a pretty big reach.
That’s amazing. Yeah.
Right. What do you think that could mean if she does actually become licensed and she has that type of a reach? I know you believe in the power of social media.
Well, look, I mean, I’ve seen what she’s done, which is representing or getting her attorney, because she’s not a lawyer yet, but getting her attorney to represent the woman who was incarcerated for a life sentence for a minor drug offense and she got her freed. And good for her for doing that.
Good for her. And if she’s doing more cases like that, God bless her and I wish her all the best.
I mean, that’s great. Good for her. Use your platform, girl. But I will say since I have a platform too, the platform doesn’t really get you the legal results. It’s the lawyering that gets you the legal.
There’s no judge or arbitrator who says, “Oh, well, okay, you had a good tweet yesterday so you win.” It doesn’t work that way, but what she can do is get media attention focused on her cases. With what she’s doing with trying to get prisoners released, that can make a difference.
That’s a good use of it. Right. Yeah.
Yeah. Don’t be evil. Right? It’s like Google’s motto, right? “Don’t be evil.” Right?
Is that Google’s motto?
Do they live up to it?
Debatable, I guess. Right?
Yeah. I think we could strive higher than that.
Yeah. So, obviously the work that you do, you hear a lot of stories, you have to have a great deal of compassion, emotional support. Do you ever feel like a therapist instead of a lawyer?
No, because it’s actually very important and I train my team on this, that we’re not therapists and we don’t want the therapists to play “lawyer” and we don’t want lawyers to play “therapists.”
Therapists have a very important role. All of our clients are required to have therapists. And we are lawyers, but in the more-
Required by your firm?
Yes. We require it because it’s always psychological injury cases, is what we do, and you have to have a therapist to prove psychological injuries to testify that she has post-traumatic stress or chronic anxiety or depression or whatever it is.
So we need that person as a witness, but we all also need that person to be there for our client when she’s going through emotional anguish, which she will, as the case goes on. Right?
But in the broader sense, yeah. I mean, I had a client this month who was suicidal, who went to a mental hospital. I spent a lot of time talking to her about that, talking to her husband about it. That’s not uncommon. So we do have to understand the emotional issues.
I talk to my clients very straightforwardly about these issues. It’s hard. We deal with a very traumatized population. We have to be compassionate and kind and respectful. But sometimes we also have to be kind of tough. Like if our clients don’t get back to us, this came up in one of my cases today, the client isn’t responding to calls for several days and we have some deadlines we have to meet. That’s not okay. They need to be there, step up, participate. So we want to be compassionate, but we also sometimes have to be firm.
Yeah. It’s important. What about this? Can money weigh the scales of justice?
Of course. Money helps with everything in life and it helps for sure in our civil and criminal justice system.
So one example is investigators. So the other side will hire private investigators. My clients are always very upset. “Somebody’s going through my trash, somebody’s following me in a car, somebody’s calling up my mom and asking questions about me.”
It’s very upsetting. It’s also legal and they can do that. They can go around and talk to people about you.
And most of us who’ve lived a life, you can find somebody who doesn’t like you, who’s willing to say bad things about you, and now they’ve got a witness maybe to use against you, right? Especially if you have an ex-spouse. A lot of times there’s that kind of person. Or you’ve ever been fired from a job or if you’ve ever been arrested. There’s things they can dig up.
We don’t typically have the money for investigators, but that’s one of the reasons why I use the media. I’ll talk about a case if it’s something that gets media attention and I’ll say, “If you have information about this case, please contact me.” And a lot of people do and that ends up being very helpful.
Sure, sure. Yeah. In fact, I think you did that in the Bill O’Reilly case. Right?
Tell me a little bit more about that.
That was a fun one. So Bill O’Reilly, in my opinion, was just somebody who was long overdue to be taken down for the things that he did to women.
I remember, I think it was 2003 where Andrea Mackris, a producer, sued him for sexual harassment. And I knew her a little bit. At that time, I was in New York working at Court TV and I just thought, “This is ridiculous.” And a couple weeks later, the case settled. She went away. We never heard from her again and somehow he kept his job.
And cut to like 2017, and my friend Wendy Walsh says, “This New York Times reporter reached out to me and she wanted to know if I was ever sexually harassed by Bill O’Reilly. And I was, but I don’t think I should go on the record. I’ve talked to all my friends, Lisa. They all say I shouldn’t do it. What do you think?” And I said, “Wendy, what do you think I’m going to say? Of course you should speak to her.” Wendy and I, at that point, both in our 50s.
And I said, “If we don’t stand up against this, who’s going to do it? You can’t expect some 23-year-old girl to do it. You’re established in your career. Your life is good. You need to do this so that this reporter can get an article out.” And she said, “Well, what if he sues me for defamation?” And I said, “I will represent you for free in that case.” I said, “And Wendy, we’re going to take him down.” And she said, “Well, what do you mean? That’s not possible. He is the number one cable show. He has Fox News standing behind him.” I said, “We’re going to do it. I know how to do it. I’ve been doing this long enough. I know how. Just do what I tell you and we’re going to do this.”
God bless her. She did. She went on the record. The New York Times article came out on a Sunday. Monday morning, we had a big press conference in my office. She told her story and I said, “He needs to go. And if he does not, if anybody else out there is a victim of sexual harassment by Bill O’Reilly, I want to hear from you. I will represent you for free. Please stand with us. Please reach out to me.”
A bunch of other women reached out to me. We had to vet their cases. In the meantime, I tried to think about what to do for Wendy because I don’t like a wrong without a remedy. And her case was time barred. It was too old because of the statute of limitations.
We decided to call the Fox News hotline because I happened to have, from a prior case, their internal policies in my file and it said, “Anybody can call the hotline at any time. We will investigate.” Ah-ha. So we not only called the hotline, I made a video of Wendy and me calling the hotline and reporting it and then I posted online because I knew I wanted to keep this in the news. I didn’t want it to be a one day story. So we had to keep having news hooks to keep the news stories generated. Right? Keep the pressure on.
I remember standing in the rain in this parking lot of some cheap hotel in South Carolina where I was staying, and she wasn’t there and I had to get on my flight, and finally she shows up. She’s like, “I don’t want to go on camera.” I said, “Okay, well just show your hands like typing in the hotline complaint.”
There it is.
So we did that and then I posted it. And then I said to the Murdochs on Twitter, “I’m going to keep going until he is gone. I’m not giving up. He must go. I’m going to keep representing women for free until he is gone.”
Dear Murdochs, I’m not giving up until he’s gone. My phone’s ringing off the hook. I’m representing them all for free. Sincerely, Lisa Bloom
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) April 18, 2017
A couple days later, I had my third accuser. We sent in her complaint. I’d said the same thing on Twitter and an hour later, they fired him.
Wow. Talk about power.
And I just tell that story because like, who am I? Some pushy broad from LA who doesn’t like sexual harassment.
But it’s a combination of using the media, using the law, empowering my clients. And we took him down and it was long overdue.
And of course, it wasn’t just me. It was the New York Times reporter who put that story together, who broke that big story. It was the other victims who had spoken out, but all the other victims had signed nondisclosure agreements and they couldn’t talk. That’s why I needed new ones who could talk.
And that’s how I had to get them, was by appealing to them through the media.
Wow. Well, done. Fighting courageously for those that can’t fight for themselves. Powerful, powerful, powerful story. Do you think that that’s kind of a fear of women that want to come forward, the defamation?
Yeah, right? That’s going to be the biggest part.
Yeah. I’ve been fighting a defamation case myself for the last two years, three years now. Steve Wynn sued me. He’s the billionaire from Las Vegas who has a number of women accusing him of all kinds of terrible things. Got driven out of his own company.
I did a press release on behalf of one client. He sued me and I’ve been fighting that case. It’s not pleasant.
So yes, defamation cases are a fear. A lot of women are getting sued for defamation and it’s awful. A lot of them reach out to me and we do some pro bono cases, but I can’t do every pro bono case.
And it’s tough. It’s really hard when you get sued for defamation and the other side has money and you don’t.
Well, it’s just the strategy, I guess, on their behalf. Again, there’s the money weighing the scales of justice again, right?
You can represent yourself, right?
Well, I have an attorney.
Because you know what they say about people who represent themselves, you have a fool for a lawyer. So I mean, I can for a little while. But if it’s a real case, which this is, I need a real lawyer. Also, it’s in Nevada where I’m not licensed.
I see. Yeah. Sometimes even if it’s just frivolous, they don’t care, right? I’m just going to have to fight these, yeah.
You know you have to fight these cases. What can I tell you?
You had mentioned that somebody, one of your clients said that they’ve got a daughter that wants to go to law school, wants to be like you. What advice do you have for those that want to follow in your footsteps?
Do it. We need more people fighting for women’s rights, victims rights.
You got to be tough. One of the things I tell my clients a lot is you can do hard things. Usually the hard thing is the right thing. If you’re deciding between two choices in life, the one that’s really hard, the one that you don’t want to do is probably the one that you should do-
That’s good advice.
Right? Because if the easy choice was the right choice, you would’ve already chosen it.
So, it is hard what I do to be under attack all the time, to have a lot of responsibility for people’s lives and for my staff, and so forth. But it’s also extremely rewarding. And I would say very intellectually challenging, which I like. I couldn’t do this every day if I didn’t feel that way.
And every case is different and interesting. And I like brainstorming. I mean, this morning I was brainstorming with my teams on a couple of different cases. “Well, why don’t we try this? Why don’t we try that?” We get very creative…
…which I enjoy that part. But do it.
Corporate America has plenty of attorneys, no offense, corporate attorneys, or maybe only a little. They have plenty. And you can be a drone for a corporate law firm all your life and make a lot of money, but is that really why you went to law school? Is that really what motivated you?
I don’t get it. I think that work is very boring and unsatisfying. So, do what I do. It’s more fun.
There it is. Who has inspired you the most in your lifetime?
Well, definitely my mom.
I mean, talk about a fighter. She is relentless. She does not give up. I don’t know where that comes from, but she is stubborn and you do not want to be on the other side from her. And I really admire that.
Thurgood Marshall, the former Supreme Court Justice, the attorney who argued the Brown v. Board of Education case in the 1950s, which led to the desegregation of American schools is a big hero of mine. I have a big picture of him up in my office. So those are two of them.
Okay. Thank you. What is a dream of yours that you have yet to achieve?
Ooh. And I hear that’s coming up here soon.
So, yes. So, tomorrow at 6 a.m., I leave for 9 days on the PCT, but it’s just to do a small segment of it, probably about 109 miles. But the whole thing is 2,600 miles going through California, Oregon, and Washington, from the Mexico border to the Canada border.
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And I’ve done segments. I would really love to do the whole thing. It’s called “thru-hiking.”
It takes about 6 months if you do the whole thing straight through. I don’t really have a life where I can just disappear for 6 months. Although, anything is possible, Jason, you never know. If I’m missing for 6 months that’s probably where I will be.
That’s where you are at. You’re hiking.
That’s awesome. Well, good luck with that.
I don’t know if I could hang, for sure.
It’s not for everyone.
What are some other things that you try to do to unplug from work? So hiking, outdoors.
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Mountain biking. Anything where I’m outside. I’m not meant to be inside.
I don’t know why humans are inside so much now. I don’t know how that happened. I find it very antiseptic. We’re going to be in coffins for all eternity one day. Like, why are we boxing ourselves in?
That’s a good point.
That’s just kind of how I feel.
So, let me ask you this. So what would you say is a common misconception about being a quote-unquote, “celebrity lawyer”?
Gosh, I think one misconception is that, like, all I have to do is write a letter and the other side will just cave. A lot of clients say, “I just know if you would get involved and be my lawyer they’ll just give me everything I want.” I’m like, “If only that were true.”
So, I mean, there definitely are cases where I get involved and the other side does want to settle pretty quickly. But more often than not, if it’s a big company, which is usually what we’re up against, they’re going to fight.
So, my name recognition doesn’t make that much difference to them. I mean, it may be a little bit. I don’t know what people think of me, so I don’t know what the misconceptions are.
Well, I know you hosted your own daily show…
…for about 8 years, right?
It was like a 5-day-a-week kind of job.
Uh-huh. On Court TV.
Yeah, I do a lot of that. Although now I would say it’s more social media because the news doesn’t cover a lot of the kinds of things that I do. They don’t cover a lot of women’s rights stuff anymore, I noticed.
I’ve heard about “MeToo fatigue” and that they’re just not as interested as they once were.
So for example, I mentioned these cases against Paul Marciano and Guess, hasn’t gotten very significant coverage, has gotten a little bit- There’s one reporter who is interested and she reports on each new accuser who comes out against him, and a prominent photographer who spoke out about what he had seen. But for the most part, doesn’t get a lot of news coverage.
Yeah. I got to think that social media had a lot to do with the MeToo movement, right?
Because who would’ve thought this could’ve happened years ago? Right?
You’re right. And women started speaking out on social media, and #MeToo is how it kind of blew up. “Well, yeah. I have this story too. Oh, me too. Same thing happened to me.” That’s how it all began.
Yeah. Powerful. And you were one of the pioneers behind that whole movement.
Well, I mean, I think the MeToo movement, it was pioneered by a lot of people. I don’t know if I would say I was a pioneer of it, but I would say that I’ve been doing women’s rights cases for decades, and whether it’s fashionable or not, I’ve been doing them.
I sued Leona Helmsley in the 1980s on behalf of a pregnant woman who got fired on account of her pregnancy. And I did AIDS discrimination cases, when I was still in law school and the AIDS epidemic was new.
So this is something I’ve been doing for a long time. The fact that the world has kind of caught up and taken these cases more seriously, that’s good. But whether it’s fashionable or not, whether people have MeToo fatigue or not, I’m still plugging away over here with these cases.
Yeah. No, I love when social media is used in the right way like that.
Sometimes there’s a lot of wrong uses of social media, but that’s certainly one of the positives with social. Other things, let’s see here. You’ve been a vegan for how many years?
I’ve been a vegan for 13 years.
And was that a Braden thing that tugged you a little bit?
No, I tugged him.
You tugged him. Okay.
So I’ve been vegetarian since I was 16. So, vegetarian means you eat, like, dairy and eggs, but no meat.
When I was 16, I looked at my dog and thought about how much I loved her. And I thought I would never eat her. So, I went vegetarian at 16 and that was a long time ago. That was 1977. And it was pretty tough to be vegetarian back then.
People, they had no idea what to do with me. But I persisted.
And then I started reading a lot about animal cruelty and I realized that being vegetarian was not good enough, that for example, the egg industry is probably one of the cruelest of all, the way that the chickens are treated. And the dairy industry is awful; ripping the baby calves away from their mothers who scream when they’re being taken away so that we can steal their milk.
And I just thought it was wrong. So, I said to Braden, “I’m going to try going vegan. It’s probably going to be hard, but I’m going to try it.” And he said, “Okay, I’ll try it too.”
And was he a vegetarian before that or not?
He was mostly vegetarian because of me at that point. He still ate fish. And after about 3 days we said, “This is not hard at all. Why did we think this would be hard?” We live in LA. It’s very easy to buy vegan products at a store.
That’s right. LA is easy for it, yeah.
And once you go down this rabbit hole of vegan, I mean, not only do we not eat any animal products, none of my clothes or my car or nothing that we buy has any animal products, no feathers, no fur, no leather, no wool, no silk. And it just becomes how you live.
I mean, we have a great life. We’re not suffering. We have delicious food.
We have nice things. And we don’t contribute to animal cruelty. And of course it’s also better for climate change because animal agriculture is a significant driver of climate change.
Sure. Well, awesome. So we like to do a thing called “Hennessey Heart-to-Heart,” where I just ask a couple questions. First thing that comes to mind, you can answer it. And I’ll start with this one since we’re on the subject of being a vegan. If you had a last supper and could eat anything in the world, what would you ask for?
Definitely pie. I love pie.
Oh, I heard about your pies.
I have heard about your pies.
Yeah. I’m a pretty good cook, but if it’s my last supper, somebody else is going to cook it. And like, a really good peach pie probably. Can that just be my dinner? Does it have to be at dinner, dinner too?
Can be dinner.
I mean, seitan tacos with really good guacamole and pie. That would probably be it.
Got it. I’m in. What’s something that you can’t go a day without doing?
Exercise. I mean, of course every now and then I do have a day without it, and then I’m very grumpy. So I really need to exercise every day. I like being healthy. I like being strong.
And at 60, it makes a big difference. But it really makes a big difference at any age, any age. I look at people my age, I’m like, “What happened?” And usually what happened, is they don’t have a good diet and they don’t exercise.
And then my kids, when they were little, they had shpilkes. So, I would take them to school half an hour early and get them to run around the playground and go on the monkey bars and get their shpilkes out. Then they could sit still. And it’s kind of the same. I have to run around in the morning.
Your grandma defined her own word. I love that. What’s something that you find therapeutic? I’m sure. Exercising is one of those.
I would say talking to my girlfriends. Friends, I think are underrated. Friends are so important. Friends that you can just really let it all out with. And they’ll cry with you and laugh with you and tell you the world is crazy, but you’re awesome, right?
I have some dear girlfriends that I’ve been close with for many, many years, and I love them, and that’s essential.
Nice. What’s your favorite hobby to do alone?
Reading. I’m a big reader. I love to read. People have to go away and leave me alone so that I can read. So, that would be the thing.
Who’s your favorite historical figure?
So I love Martin Luther King Jr. And that’s largely because every word out of this guy’s mouth was always brilliant. I mean, it’s amazing. I’ve seen footage of, he’s just walking down the street and a reporter walks up to him and starts talking, and he just, every word-
You know how like if you write something that’s really important, you’ll write it and then you edit it and then you’ll edit, and give it to somebody else and they edit it. And then finally you have this nice polish. That’s just the way this man spoke…
…like just every word. And he was so brave and such a powerful speaker, invoking the Bible and the Constitution and our historical origins, and fearless. So he’s somebody I’ve always just admired. And every time I see a new documentary, or I read something else about him, it’s still amazing.
Where’s one of your favorite places in the entire world to go?
So, I’ve dragged Braden up there a lot in the last year.
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Yeah, you said you guys might be looking at maybe buying something out there too?
We might be, yes.
Lake Tahoe is so beautiful. Have you been?
I’ve never been, no.
So, it’s a giant sapphire blue lake that’s very clear, and clean, and deep, ringed by these beautiful mountains, which in the winter are covered with snow, and it’s just stunning.
And I like it for all the outdoor activities that are available there, and all the cute little towns around the edge of the lake. It’s just magnificent. I love the Sierras in general, the Sierra Mountains in California, Nevada. Just beautiful.
Wow. I need to take the wife there, and the kids.
Yes, you do. And the Pacific Crest Trail runs through it, not that you would notice. It’s just a little trail, but to me it’s a big deal.
Who’s the one person you can talk to about anything?
Oh, well, definitely Braden, my husband. In fact, a lot of our conversations begin, “I would only tell you this.” I noticed that, both ways. We don’t have to be politically correct with each other. We can kind of use each other as a sounding board, “Am I wrong to think that duh-duh-duh?” But I really could tell him anything.
That’s one of the great things about Braden, he’s always been the guy who’s- Just whatever we need to talk about, we can talk about it, and it’s okay. He doesn’t get worked up about things, and that’s a great way to be.
Yep. Who’s on your top five most frequently called list?
My daughter and my son, Sarah and Sammy, because they are also both very good to talk to. And they’re now 32 and 30, so they’re real people, and I can talk to them about real things. And they also will give it to me straight, which I appreciate. My mom, who I see once a week, always. My best friend, Julie. My good friend, Lon. Is that five?
There you go.
There you go. What’s something that you love about yourself? That’s a hard question, right?
Well, I’ve been through a lot of hard things, and I’m still here. That’s one of the ways I look at it. A lot of high profile attorneys have flamed out. I think they fly too close to the sun, and they get greedy. I don’t know. I don’t know what they’re thinking.
But I’m still here. And I’ve been through some things, people have tried to drag me down, and I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve acknowledged them, and honestly I think just continuing to put one foot in front of the other sometimes is the best revenge when people are coming after you.
Good answer. Do you believe in fate?
I think so.
So what is fate, like things are just going to happen the way they’re going to happen no matter what you do?
Yeah. I think I met my wife possibly because the stars and the moons were aligned, and I don’t know, maybe I believe in the fairytale world. I don’t know.
I think we make choices, and then the choices have consequences. I chose to be there that night, Braden chose to be there that night. The guy I was dating chose not to come, even though I told him to come. If he had been there, I wouldn’t have-
Braden wouldn’t have had a shot?
I wouldn’t have talked to him for hours. I would’ve said, “Hello.” When your boyfriend’s lurking around you’re not going to talk to some other guy for hours, right? So, I don’t. I think that we all make choices. We don’t completely control our lives, there’s a lot of forces beyond our control.
But like the expression, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
That’s true. I mean,
I think John F. Kennedy said, “Things don’t happen, things are made to happen.” And I think for the most part, things are made to happen.
Have you ever seen something that you can’t explain?
Oh God. If you think about birds flying in giant groups, flocks, and they’re an inch apart, and they don’t touch, and they go for miles, and they turn as one. How do they do that? Or fish, same thing, right?
You know, there’s a lot of things that can’t be explained. Love, like, what is really the purpose of love? Love is wonderful, but is it really evolutionarily needed? I don’t know.
I think animals. We always have rescue dogs, we have two wonderful rescue dogs now. The connection between humans and dogs, how do you explain that? It’s just great. Do they love us? I hope so.
I think so, yeah.
Do they? I don’t know. Or do they just want us to feed them? I don’t know.
You can’t explain it.
But the human-animal connection.
You haven’t seen any of these questions and you’re just so eloquent at answering them. I’m impressed.
Well, thank you.
So good. What’s one thing that people have always misunderstood about you?
I don’t know. I think people think I’m all one thing. Like, I tell people, “I’m going backpacking,” and they go, “You’re going backpacking?” Yeah, I don’t know what you think about me, that that would be surprising.
Or Braden and I used to go to Burning Man before the pandemic, we went 6 years in a row to Burning Man. Totally a blast. People would say, “You go to Burning Man?” Yeah, I’m a hippie chick, and I like camping out in the desert, and I like putting on crazy clothes and dancing all night. And if you don’t know that about me, then you don’t really know me.
When’s the last time you cried in a movie?
Gosh. I am very easy to cry in a movie. It’s not the last time, but the one that just comes to mind is the one I cried the most, The Notebook. I didn’t know there was that much liquid in my head that could-
Did you just see it recently?
No, I saw it years ago. But I literally did not know that much liquid could come out of me. It was just volumes. I just cried like a crazy person. And then I saw it like a year later on a plane, and I cried all over again on the plane.
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There is something about that movie.
Who cries at a movie on a plane?
Guys cry at that movie too.
Yeah, well if you have a soul, or a heart, right?
Yeah, that one. And the one that gets me, too, is Goodwill Hunting.
I remember that movie.
There’s a part where Matt Damon is talking with Robin Williams, and he’s his therapist, and he says, “It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault.” Because he’s been abused his whole life, and it just gets me.
It gets you.
Wow. It’s very touching.
But I don’t really cry in movies, but that one gets me.
Because you have no soul?
I hope not. Are you religious or spiritual?
You know, I’m not really either.
I would’ve said I’m more spiritual 10 or 15 years ago, but I’m really not, unless you define it very, very broadly. I can be odd by nature. I can look out at a beautiful mountain, or a sunset, or Lake Tahoe, and say, “Oh God, this is just incredible. This is otherworldly.” But I’m really not. I’m a very logical person. I’m a very grounded-in-reality person.
If a genie granted you three wishes right now, what would you wish for?
I would wish to stop climate change, climate crisis, because it really should be the number one issue. And I say this all the time, this should be the number one issue.
And yet in my life, it’s not the number one issue. It’s not the number one thing I work on, but it should be, it really should be for all of us. Because it’s destroying our planet, and destroying our children’s future. So stopping climate change, and the acidification of the oceans, and deforestation, and stop- destroying habitats. That’s a big issue in my head.
I went camping this summer up by some lakes, and there were no bugs, and almost no birds. Because this is what we’ve done. And will my grandkids get to see the beautiful natural places that I’ve seen? Maybe not. Will they have to deal with giant fires and floods and storms? Yeah, they will have to. That’s not a maybe, they will have to deal with that. So, that would certainly be number one, and after that, human rights would be number two and number three.
And number three?
Nice. On a lighter note, what is your Starbucks name? I just learned about this from Braden by the way, I didn’t know this was a thing.
Braden is “Libutika,” did he tell you that?
He did. See, he couldn’t remember that.
So, I don’t go to Starbucks. I don’t, like, boycott Starbucks, I’m not interested in Starbucks. I bring my little water bottle. But my trail name is “Indigo.”
Is that a sufficient answer?
I think so. At least you can understand it.
We all have trail names when you’re out on the trail. You don’t use your real name, because you get to be this other person. So Indigo, because that’s the color of the sky at sunset, and it’s my favorite color.
I like it, nice. Well, Lisa, thank you so much for coming down to the studio to speak with me today.
Aw thank you, I’m very honored.
As a father of a precious little girl, Brooklynn, she’s 5, I just want to thank you for the massive contributions that you bring to light in some of the darkness in this world. And so, I’m touched, and I’m honored.
Well, that’s a very sweet thing to say. Well, give Brooklynn a hug from me. Good for her. Raise her up to be strong and fierce.
I’m sure you will. Little girls are the best.
Thank you so much, that’s very sweet.
Thank you, Lisa.