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Gloria Allred is a founding partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Allred, Maroko & Golberg. A noted feminist and women's rights attorney, she has represented a wide variety[…]

Bringing a legal case against someone who is famous and powerful can be a “David and Goliath type of situation,” says the lawyer. But she’s “in the business of letting the celebrities know what the truth is.”

Question: Has our cultural obsession with celebrity helped or rnhurt women's rights?

Gloria Allred: Well there rndefinitely is a culture of celebrity and a fascination with it. And I rnthink generally the media is very interested in cases involving rncelebrities. I do represent a lot of women who have been hurt by the rnrich, the powerful, and the famous. Many of whom are celebrities and so rnwhile the... we're on the end of representing essentially the rnunderdog—the typical person against the celebrity. Now celebrities have rntheir highly paid legal mouthpieces. They have their publicist. They rnhave their promoters, they're managers, their agents, various and sundryrn hanger-oners, groupies, fans, and others who will be supportive of themrn because celebrities have often been in millions of living rooms throughrn television or the Internet or through feature films.

Often they rnare well-liked, well-known, and supported by many. And we're taking the rnperson who is not known at all, a typical person, but who may have been rnhurt by the arrogance and the sense of entitlement and privilege the rncelebrity has, and inflicted an injustice on our clients. So it is a rnvery David-and-Goliath type of situation where the David or Davida rnversus Goliath. But I'm a gorilla fighter—that's G-U-E-R-R. And I am rnvery happy to take on these battles where there's legal merit to the rnclaim and what we want to do is we want to equalize the power. And win rnas much justice as is possible for our client who has been the victim ofrn injustice by celebrities.

Celebrities are used to being able to rnget whatever they want, do whatever they want, whenever they want, rnhowever they want. They're often surrounded by yes-people, who don't rnexercise their judgment to say "no" to the celebrity or even suggest rnthat they might be doing something wrong or even illegal. Because those rnpeople surround them in their entourage sometimes are afraid that they rnwill be risking their own jobs if they anger the celebrity by telling rnthem the truth.

I'm in the business of letting the celebrities rnknow what the truth is, that we know it, that what they've done is rnwrong. They need to be accountable for it. They need to compensate my rnclients in an appropriate case if they have hurt them, and if there's rnlegal merit to the claim. And so that's what we do and this is shocking rnto most celebrities. They're not used to being challenged at all. And rnespecially by a woman. And they have generally underestimated the peoplern they have hurt. Not realized that those people do know enough to rncontact me or another attorney, and do that they have rights and will rnexercise them in an appropriate case.

So I don't know why they rnshould be shocked. I've been practicing for 35 years. It would not be a rnsurprise to most people that a lot of women who have been hurt by rncelebrities would come to me. But somehow sometimes these celebrities rnare just in total shock or express surprise. But I'm a practical person,rn they know that I'm reasonable, that they can resolve things with me. Ifrn they're going to be people who are knowing how to open up a dialogue. rnBut if they want to battle it to the end I'm there for the battle.

rn Why do celebrities continue to do things that carry such immense rnpotential risks?

Gloria Allred:  Because they can. rnBecause they do. And because in most cases they get away with it. So rnwhere they can be challenged, should be challenged, and where we have rnevidence to support our claim, we will challenge them, if our client rnwants us to, because we're not afraid of them. I've challenged rngovernment. I've challenged big corporations. I've challenged small rnbusiness. I've challenged wrong-doers. Famous, infamous and not known atrn all. Batterers, killers, discriminators, sexual harassers, those who rnsexually abuse children—many, many people.

And, you know, I'm notrn in fear. I know we're doing what is right. We're standing up for rntypical people who would otherwise have no voice and have no power, and rnwould not otherwise have anyone to advocate for them or enforce their rnrights. So the celebrities can say and do whatever they're going to say rnand do but we're going to do what we need to do that is legal and rnpeaceful to vindicate the rights of our clients.

Recorded on June 9, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman