David Boies, Chairman of the law firm Boies, Schiller and Flexner LLP, speaks during the ABA Conference panel discussion on Value Billing for the Legal Profession at the Marriot Marquis in Atlanta. Photo: Alison Church/Freelance. 2-11-2011. (Alison Church/Freelance)
Unless litigation erupts between Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Co. (TWC), David Boies said he will continue to represent the embattled movie producer and his firm will continue to represent TWC.
“I’m still doing what I was doing,” said the Boies Schiller Flexner chairman, a longtime legal adviser to Weinstein, in an interview with The American Lawyer.
Some news accounts have speculated about a looming battle between Weinstein and his namesake film studio, which terminated him last weekend. Questions about the roles played among Weinstein’s changing cast of outside counsel have surfaced because of the high-profiles of certain faces, which seem to come and go.
Most recently, Weinstein tapped litigator Patricia Glaser of Los Angeles-based Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro to represent him in negotiations over his exit from TWC. Glaser, who has advised other top entertainment figures in Hollywood, previously worked with Boies in counseling William “Bill” Gross, the ousted boss at Pacific Investment Management Co. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the time of this story.
As for Boies, who has his own film finance venture that has done business with TWC, he carefully delineated what his role will—and won’t be—in representing Weinstein. He won’t be helping Charles Harder of Beverly Hills-based Harder Mirell & Abrams, who last week threatened a $50 million suit against The New York Times over its story alleging that Weinstein for years sought sexual favors from actresses, sometimes in workplace settings. (Boies Schiller has done work for The Times.)
Nor is it to address “the subject matter of various news stories,” said Boies, referring to articles published since the Times’ explosive story detailing additional sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein, including one by The New Yorker that accuses him of raping three women. Weinstein has denied those new allegations, specifically stating he has not engaged in sex that was not consensual.
“Any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” said a statement from Sallie Hofmeister, a crisis communications consultant retained by the movie mogul. “Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
Nor does Boies expect to represent Weinstein in any litigation with TWC. That would be Glaser’s role, he said. For his part, Boies has adopted a conciliatory tone about Weinstein’s negotiations with the company.
“I am working with him and the company to resolve these issues,” Boies said. “This is one in which I think everybody believes that litigation would be a bad thing for everybody. The company is going through substantial trauma as it is. Everybody recognizes that [litigation] would be very damaging to the shareholders.”
But potential conflicts may arise because Boies, his firm and his film finance company Boies/Schiller Film Group (BSFG) have multiple ties to Weinstein, his brother Robert Weinstein (now head of TWC) and the company itself. BSFG has co-produced movies with TWC, 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 family lawyers that litigate divorces, represented Bob Weinstein, now separated from his ex-wife. Harvey Weinstein, whose own wife said this week that she intends to file for divorce, has told friends that his brother is responsible for orchestrating his recent well-publicized troubles, according to some media reports.
Choosing sides in a sex scandal that seems to expand each day may ultimately be necessary when it comes to the Weinstein brothers and TWC, conceded Boies, although he noted that his firm has previously obtained a least one conflicts waiver from TWC.
“If it were to come to litigation, we would have to face that issue,” Boies said.
The fallout from the myriad allegations against Harvey Weinstein boldfaced Boies’ name in another way, as multiple stories noted that he contributed $10,000 to New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s campaign coffers shortly after Vance declined to prosecute Weinstein on sexual assault charges stemming from a 2015 incident involving him and an Italian model.
“David Boies has been a supporter of the district attorney since long before 2015, including before he was first elected, and has never spoken to him about Harvey Weinstein,” a Boies Schiller spokesman said this week. A communications director for Vance, who has recently come under scrutiny over donations made to him by prominent New York lawyers, confirmed that Manhattan’s top prosecutor did not speak with Boies about Weinstein.
In an email, Boies reiterated that sentiment and wrote that “I think the only time in more than 50 years of practicing law that I had dealings with the DA’s office was 15 years ago when I represented Tyco and, at the DA’s request appeared as a witness in the DA’s prosecution of Tyco’s CEO and CFO.”
Boies, who did appear as a witness in the high-profile prosecution of former Tyco CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski and ex-CFO Mark Swartz, which concluded in 2005 after both were convicted on fraud charges following a second trial, added that Vance is the only district attorney that he has ever supported financially.
“The support that my family and I have given to him has been entirely because we believe in his leadership and what he is doing,” Boies wrote. “No one who knows either of us would believe that I would try to influence him for a client, or that if I did try, he would be influenced.”
As Boies weathers the ongoing storm surrounding Weinstein, he’ll have some new lawyers as company on a powerhouse legal team. While so-called feminist adviser Lisa Bloom and ex-White House special counsel Lanny Davis have since left Weinstein’s camp, he has moved quickly to replenished his attorney ranks.
Several entertainment industry publications reported Wednesday that Weinstein has hired Blair Berk, a name partner at Los Angeles-based Tarlow & Berk. Berk, a criminal defense lawyer, is known for helping celebrity clients escape various legal entanglements.