Complicating the matter is the fact that, at the very same time, Boies’s firm was representing the very same paper in an unrelated libel suit: Even as The Times paid Boies Schiller Flexner to defend it from attacks against its work, the law firm was assisting in efforts to undermine its work. In a statement released Monday, the Times said, “We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe. It is inexcusable and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies.”
Boies has since apologized for his part in the attempts to silence Weinstein’s accusers. “Had I known at the time that this contract would have been used for the services that I now understand it was used for, I would never have signed it or been associated in any way with this effort,” Boies wrote in a letter to staff on Tuesday that the firm shared with The Atlantic.
Elsewhere in the letter, Boies says that Weinstein wasn’t even his client at the time, though he had represented him in the past. Boies wrote, “While I told Mr. Weinstein that I was not in a position to represent him on these issues his request to contract with investigators seemed at the time, like a reasonable accommodation for a longtime client. I regret having done this.” Boies, however, went on to maintain that working with Weinstein while also representing The New York Times was not a conflict of interest. In his letter to staff, Boies cites language from the firm’s contract with the paper, which reads, “We have explained and you have agreed that as a result of the types of clients the Firm advises and the types of engagements in which we are involved, we may be requested to act for other persons on matters which are not substantially related to the Engagement, where the interests of the other persons, and the Firm’s representation of them, may be against the client’s, including adversity in litigation.”
The outing of Boies Schiller Flexner as playing both sides of the Weinstein scandal comes as something of a surprise. But the fact that the firm was somehow involved in trying to aid Weinstein isn’t that shocking at all. As one of the top law firms in the country, Boies Schiller Flexner is considered a hub of legal power, and, as such, its client list includes a number of rich and powerful companies and individuals—usually when they’re in the midst of some pretty ugly legal battles. Among the high-profile defense clients represented by Boies Schiller Flexner are the banks Goldman Sachs and Barclays, and the biotech start-up Theranos, whose board Boies later sat on while still acting as legal representation.
(In fact, this isn’t even the first time that the firm has been accused of trying to silence someone making allegations against its client. Tyler Schultz, a whistle-blower at Theranos who alleged that the company had ignored failed quality-control tests and falsified research told The Wall Street Journal that lawyers from Boies Schiller Flexner approached him at his grandfather’s house and tried to intimidate him. He also said that he was followed by private investigators hired by Theranos.)