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The Legal Profession Enabling Rape, Part II

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In this entry, I took issue with lawyers who write non-disclosure agreements (NDA's) to furnish to clients for the purpose of helping them muzzle women they have sexually abused or, sometimes, outright raped.  The Harvey Weinstein scandal was the occasion for that entry.

Things have gotten worse.  Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story about a previously very highly regarded lawyer, David Boies, who  --  to translate the somewhat opaque language in which the story is written  --  hired a "private investigative firm" to dig up dirt on one of Weinstein's numerous victims in order to bludgeon her into silence.

The reason the Times is angry about this, as it full well has a right to be, is that Boies was trying to prevent the Times, which was at the time also a client of his, from getting what would have been a fantastic scoop.  The Times is correct in viewing this as a betrayal.

But to my way of thinking, there is something else much more appalling about Boies' behavior:  It's another instance of a lawyer's not merely seeking, through a contractual clause, to suppress truthful information about his client's vile (and criminal) behavior, but of promoting a blackmail scheme to threaten the victim.

"Zealous advocacy," embrace your true name.

From the NYT story:

Mr. Boies said neither he nor his firm had any role in initially hiring the private investigative firm, Black Cube. But he said he had made a mistake in helping out Mr. Weinstein, whom Mr. Boies described as a longtime client and who has denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex, in forging a new contract with the firm.

Notice the word "initially."

"It was not thought through, and that was my mistake," he said in the statement. He pointed out that he had never been disciplined for his work.

That being the whole problem with the legal profession's facilitating, and profiting from, the sexual abuse of women.

In an interview, he sought to minimize his involvement with Mr. Weinstein, contending that he was brought in to deal with a "billing dispute" with Black Cube. But in effect, Mr. Boies helped draft a new contract to retain the services of Black Cube for Mr. Weinstein. The contract, a copy of which was posted on The New Yorker's website, said one objective was to provide Mr. Weinstein with "intelligence" to "stop publication of a new negative article in a leading NY newspaper."

"In retrospect, we should not have gotten involved in the billing dispute," Mr. Boies said. "In the case of Harvey Weinstein, there is a lot of information that I didn't have."

Again, let me do some translation.  "In retrospect" means "after the story became public, but I sure enjoyed getting that fat fee before then."  And "a lot of information I didn't have" is intended to mask the information Mr. Boies, one of the most sophisticated and best-connected lawyers in the country,  did have, as did practically everyone else who worked with or for Harvey Weinstein.

The episode may deepen the perception that Mr. Boies pushes the boundaries on potential conflicts, while raising questions about why he didn't seek to learn more about Mr. Weinstein's team of hired-gun investigators.

The answer to that one is easy.  Professional "ethics" put a premium on willful blindness and take a moral holiday regarding the behavior the blindness is designed to conceal.

Actual conflict or not, legal experts said Mr. Boies would most likely pay little penalty for his dual work for Mr. Weinstein and The Times.

No kidding.

News flash:  The reason lawyers pull this sort of stuff is that it pays and they get away with it.

They said disciplinary action was unlikely because it usually required a formal complaint. Moreover, they said, some clients may find Mr. Boies's aggressiveness appealing.

It's all true.  Some clients  --  rapists for example  --  will find it appealing that the ethics rules lawyers have written for themselves actually exist to (ready now?) help them rake in the fees.  If, in the process, we facilitate a culture of rampant rape, well, hey, look, boys will be Boies.  

1 Comment

When it's not the Clinton and Democratic National Committee lawyer
lying to you to prevent coverage of a crime
(for a year), then it may be the lawyer
of Clinton's friend, Harv Weinstein, lying to you to prevent coverage of a crime.

"When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer @marceelias pushed
back vigorously ... Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with
sanctimony, for a year,"

[NY TIMES Reporter Maggie] Haberman tweeted.

~ http://thehill.com/homenews/media/357079-new-york-times-

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