This July 4th was one of the few times during the summer of 2017 that Gloria Allred and Lisa Bloom, attorneys as well as mother and daughter, have had a free morning at the same time. Fittingly, it’s also the day after Allred’s 76th birthday; I met both women at Allred’s second home in Malibu, where Bloom, dressed in a Notorious R.B.G. t-shirt (for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, of course), waited outside in her Tesla, summing up her weekend's work this way: “Women who were sexually harassed became millionaires.”
Bloom was talking about a confidential case—the majority of hers are—but she’s been making headlines for representing women in high-profile lawsuits all year, from Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment accusers to, just this month, Blac Chyna in her suit against Rob Kardashian, who posted graphic comments and photos of her on social media.
Moments later, Allred arrived in her signature red, wearing pearls the size of martini olives. Sitting down next to one another, mother and daughter looked uncannily alike. “It’s a complete coincidence,” Allred said of her only child, deadpan. The sight of these two power players framed by a beachfront deck, the Pacific crashing behind them, wouldn't look out of place on, say, Big Little Lies—not least because the HBO series deals with domestic violence, sexual assault, and the trauma inflicted on women suffering from such incidents, which makes up most of Allred and Bloom's casework at their respective firms.
In 2017, the civil rights issues—namely, the sexual harassment and assault of women by powerful men—that Allred has based her four-decade-long career on have taken on renewed significance in the wake of a Trump presidency, in part thanks to her daughter, who has taken after Allred at her own firm. Allred represented Bill Cosby’s rape and sexual assault accusers, as did Bloom, who also designed a media strategy to topple O’Reilly from his Fox News post. Oh, and Allred has a client suing President Trump.
Allred has previously represented Amber Frey, the family of Nicole Brown Simpson, and a number of Tiger Woods’s paramours, just to name a few; she's won against Sav-on over gendered toy aisles and the L.A. Archdiocese for sexual abuse charges, as well as the first lawsuit filed in California against the gay marriage ban. She is in these ways and more the ideal Trump foil. Though ideologically opposed, the President and the woman bringing suit against him were born just a few years apart; both were at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1960s; won national attention in the 70's; and cemented their polarizing fame in the 80's. More recently, they both have helmed reality TV programs; love a good cameo; and are proven ringmasters of media theatrics—to, no doubt, opposite ends. For instance, where Trump bragged about the size of his penis during a televised debate, Allred, after she famously ended the all-male members rule at the Friar's Club, entered the club sauna with a tape measure. And they both head dynasties in which their children’s success will become a part of their legacy. By that logic, you might call Bloom the anti-Ivanka.
Trump and Allred have been at odds before. He tweeted about her in 2012: “She needs publicity. She is by far a better PR agent than lawyer,” echoing some of her critics. One doesn’t have to look any farther than Trump's presidency to see that the remark has lost its bite in the social media age, when cases being litigated in the public eye (and many of Allred's clients are predisposed to a public forum) often need a spin master who can manage the internet news cycle. Bloom has talked often of the “media strategy” she used to take down O’Reilly, when she brought forth a new accusation or revelation on a near-daily basis in order to keep the story in the headlines—and for a while, Bill O'Reilly's history with women became unavoidable. In short, Allred and Bloom are well-suited to use Trump's own tactics against him. They just have thicker skin on Twitter, or wherever trolls might lurk. "If that's what they're resorting to," Allred said flatly of her attackers, "that just means they don't have a good argument."
Allred, however, doesn’t like to dwell on the PR side of her practice. When I brought up her penchant for press conferences, she was quick to reply, “We’re known for precedent-setting cases.” Some see her as a crusader, including perhaps Allred herself—an interview from a few years ago had her photographed in full-on body armor, like Joan of Arc. On a table when one enters her house, her book Fight Back and Win is prominently displayed, as is Bloom's Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World.
For all her time in the public eye, Allred is a private person. I first met her through my mother, who is her neighbor, and who doesn’t have her phone number. (I have, however, been privy to Gloria Allred’s unsolicited dating advice: once, when I was deciding whether to go out with a guy again, she asked if he would pass “The Gloria Allred Dating Test.” It’s simple: “If you’d be embarrassed to introduce him to me, he didn’t pass.” Oh, and if you have to think about it? He also didn’t pass.) Allred, instead, does all her communication by e-mail, and only a handful people know her cell phone number.
“I do, but my lips are sealed,” Bloom said.
“She also knows I don’t answer,” Allred replied.
Outside of their legal careers, mother and daughter live very different lives, and in some ways embody two generations of feminism—Bloom, who practices meditation and goes to Burning Man every year with her husband and children, likes to watch I Love Dick. Allred, who it goes without saying has never considered going to Burning Man, prefers The Handmaid’s Tale. Bloom has already been to five countries this year; Allred not only does not travel, she doesn’t take days off.
“The worst thing would be to take a vacation,” Allred said. When I asked why she doesn’t take a break, she responded crisply: “Why should I? There’s no break from injustice.” She has a repertoire of such pithy rejoinders—Allred has told me more than once she lives “wherever there is a wrong to right.”
For a time, Bloom lived next door to Allred while she was raising her two, now-grown children, who had a weekly date with their grandmother. “On a Sunday morning when my grandchildren were little, they would come in for breakfast with me,” Allred recalled. “And we would always have a different debate topic.”
“Do you remember any of the topics?” Bloom asked.
“Yes I do. For example, the death penalty.”
“I think you have to have a sense of humor to do the kinds of things we do,” Bloom later added. “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry sometimes.”
“You have to be able to laugh at yourself,” Allred said.
“Which my mom will do. To the point of hysterics.”
“Not something I have seen the President of the United States do,” Allred noted. “In terms of being able to laugh at himself.”
In 2012, she had a client who wanted to compete in the Miss Canada pageant, owned by Trump, but who was kicked out after it was revealed she was a transgender woman.
“I essentially said to Mr. Trump, 'We don’t care what your anatomy looked like when you were born, and you shouldn’t care what her anatomy looked like when she were born, either,'” Allred recalled. “And Mr. Trump said something to the effect of, ‘Oh, Gloria would love to see what’s under my pants’ [on TMZ]. So then I responded, ‘Mr. Trump, I don’t have a magnifying glass strong enough to see something that small.’”
She ran into Trump again about a year later when she appeared on Fox News the same day he was on another program. According to her, he came to the green room to tell her client something. “He said, 'Miss, I just want you to know: you have the best attorney you could ever have. This woman is relentless. She will never ever stop. So never ever fire her because you will never get anyone better,'" Allred recalled. " That’s the last time I saw Donald Trump.”
The next time, Allred hopes, will be in court, with her client and former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, who accused the president of sexual misconduct (which he denied, calling Zervos’s claims lies). Zervos has countered by filing a defamation suit. (Trump claims immunity to the charges.)
There were only a few topics that made Allred, who often has her public face on, crack a real smile: her legacy, her daughter, and her lawsuit against Donald Trump (one of many pending against the President, of course). In particular, the fact that the Zervos case may compel the President to appear in court. “We look forward to getting his deposition,” Allred said, her grin wide.
Corrections July 22: This article originally stated that Allred won against the L.A. archdiocese for rape charges. They were actually sexual abuse charges.
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