I had to get this post up before the Morning Ethics Warm-Up, because it warmed ME up by almost exploding my head.
Lisa Bloom, the daughter of feminist muck-raking celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, has already shown the she has either no regard for legal ethics, or is spectacularly ignorant of them. She has publicly breached the duty of loyalty, attacking her former client, Harvey Weinstein; she took on Weinstein in the teeth of a blatant conflict of interest that she also publicized, as if it was something to be proud of. Yesterday, she showed that she is unfamiliar with, or perhaps just doesn’t give a damn about, the core legal ethics principle of confidentiality, perhaps the most important legal ethics duty of all.
Her latest ex-client to be the victim of Bloom’s unprofessional conduct and disloyalty is Kathy Griffin, she of the severed head. Griffin announced that she had fired Bloom, and wasn’t nice about it—but then when is Griffin ever nice?—saying, “Yes, I got Bloomed. Yes, I didn’t have a good experience with her. Yes, I feel that she and her husband exacerbated my personal situation.” Disaffected clients can say anything they choose about their lawyers. They can do it on Yelp, on the lawyer consumer site Avvo, to the Hollywood Reporter or hire a skywriter. What a client says, mean or not, untrue or not, still does not alter a lawyer’s continuing ethical obligations one whit. A lawyer cannot get into a public fight with a former client over what did or did not occur during the representation. Every lawyer knows this, or is supposed to.
Yet Bloom—I would say “incredibly” had we not seen other examples of her professional ethics cluelessness—released this statement on Twitter:
[My head told me in a statement that it would have exploded over this but determined that doing so over Kathy Griffin and Lisa Bloom was demeaning to head-explosions. I concur.]
The fact that Bloom had prepared Griffin’s remarks for the press conference, the fact that they worked on them together, the fact that Griffin discarded them, the fact the performer “ad-libbed” and “extemporized” are all client confidences. For all we knew, Griffin’s claim during the press conference that she was ignoring her notes was part of a pre-planned strategy. I assumed it was; Griffin is an actress. “It’s best if you show that you are talking from the heart, Kathy,” is advice I would expect Griffin’s lawyer to give. A lawyer cannot tell the public that a client ignored her advice. Only the lawyer and the client know that. Revealing it is to disclose information the lawyer learned during the course of the representation that will harm or embarrass the client, a serious ethics violation and betrayal of trust
California’s legal ethics rules–actually a law—are even more emphatic that lawyers must never do this than the ABA (via Model Rule 1.6) and the other 50 jurisdictions that follow the ABA, which are plenty emphatic themselves. California’s Business and Professions Code section 6068, subdivision (e)(1) reads in part,
It is the duty of an attorney to do all of the following:
(b) To maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers….
(e) (1) To maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself or herself to preserve the secrets, of his or her client…
(f) To advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which he or she is charged.
Bloom’s statement violates all of these, the first perhaps being the most serious. She harms public trust in all lawyers by causing the public to believe that other lawyers can and will turn on their clients like this. They can’t.
And almost none of them do.
I know I’ve asked this before, but did Lisa Bloom really go to law school? Did her law school—I am happy to see that it was Yale, making me feel a bit better about Harvard’s recent self-debasements—really make her go to class and pass exams, or was she just given a pass as a gift to Gloria for her social justice warrior creds? Has Bloom ever read the ethics rules? Does she know there are ethical requirements of lawyers? I ask this because her statement is so obviously unethical that I don’t see how a trained lawyer with practice experience who ever had to study or be examined regarding legal ethics and professionalism could possibly write such a thing without her legal ethics alarms ringing so loudly that the sound circled the Earth four times, like the eruption of Krakatoa.
Lisa Bloom should not be a lawyer. She is a menace to her clients, an embarrassment to her profession, and a disgrace.