Gloria Allred v. OctoMom (What’s a "Celebrity Lawyer?")

It is, perhaps, the most bizarre of legal specialties: Celebrity Lawyer. It must be a specialty, because the media insist on tagging California attorney Gloria Allred that way.

Allred managed to get her mug in the news by suing Octomom Nadya Suleman. Leaving aside the little issue of whether Allred has standing to sue — apparently on behalf of a child welfare advocate with no apparent connection to the case — at least I understand what an Octomom is. But a “celebrity lawyer?” This headline comes from New York’s Daily News: Octomom Nadya Suleman sued by celeb lawyer Gloria Allred for exploiting her babies.

Now I understand what a matrimonial lawyer is. And I know what an entertainment lawyer is. And certainly what a personal injury lawyer is.

But what the hell is a “Celebrity Lawyer?” Do all celebrities have the same issues? Think about it. Criminal defense. Real estate. Securities. Immigration. Corporate work for those that have their own productions companies. Child welfare if you’re Britney Spears. Adoption if you’re Madonna.

The list of potential legal needs is limited only by the many ways people need to protect themselves from troubles.

So someone who pitches her services as being a “celebrity lawyer” is, in fact, saying that she is a Jane-of-all-trades (and, therefore, master of none). But should a major media outlet buy this self-promotional aggrandizement?

Allred’s website starts with this bit of vomit-inducing narcissism:

Gloria Allred is the most famous woman attorney practicing law in the nation today, a tireless and successful advocate whose high-profile legal battles …

I don’t know the lady but I hate her already. Anyone who writes about themselves that way seems to have an ego so large it would ultimately get in the way of any legal issue presented. If I’m a client, I don’t want the case to be about the lawyer. I want it to be about me. My issue. Not the lawyer’s desire for fame.

It’s clear that Allred does a fine job of getting her mug in the news, and therefore she probably gets cases as a result. But why anyone would hire such a person for a specific problem is utterly beyond me.

I once knew a lawyer with lot of high profile clients, and he asked me to try a medical malpractice case with him. The lawyer had decades of experience. We went to verdict. He was, in my 24 years of experience, the worst trial lawyer I ever saw. Lots of shtick, but no preparation. No concept as to how a medical malpractice case should be handled. Rookies I’ve tried cases against were far better. But he had high profile clients, and that begot more high profile clients. What he lacked were actual courtroom skills. Every time I saw his face in the news I knew his clients would hang.

Hiring a “celebrity lawyer” is, perhaps, the dumbest thing a person can do if they need actual legal help.

See also:
Celebrities + Lawyers = One Train Wreck After Another (Legal Pad)

The (shudder) “Octomom” is gonna face Gloria Allred in court. Allred, consistently described in news articles as “feminist celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred,” is going after the mother of 14 for being unfit…

Links to this post:

celebrity lawyer gloria allred
related posts. we don’t feel competent to handle your hair (0); rob lowe nanny lawsuits (2); november 27 roundup (0); muscling into her clients’ wedding pictures (3); moe the chimpanzee escapes; st. james davis v. west covina update (9)
posted by Walter Olson @ May 05, 2009 7:07 PM

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22 Responses Leave a comment

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:38 | Quote

    Eric: Perhaps “celebrity lawyer” means simply “lawyer who is a celebrity.” Ken
    # posted by Anonymous Ken Adams : May 05, 2009 8:46 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:38 | Quote

    Ken:

    I thought about that. But anyone that feels compelled to claim on their website that they are a celebrity clearly isn’t one.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : May 05, 2009 9:39 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:38 | Quote

    For shame. If Gloria Allred were a man you would praise “him” for “his” tenacity and drive.
    # posted by Blogger Lisa : May 05, 2009 10:38 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:38 | Quote

    Sorry Lisa. I treat everyone the same. She may have tenacity and drive, but ugly self-aggrandizement is ugly self-aggrandizement regardless of the chromosomes.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : May 05, 2009 10:52 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:38 | Quote

    This outrageous woman has the biggest ego on the planet. How dare she inject herself into Nadya
    Sulemans life ! It is obvious that
    Allred wants to be a celebrity herself at the expense of other peoples fame. I cannot believe how simply outrageous her claims have been over the Octomum, Nadya. She went on national T.V. to state that Nadya does not love her children, I’d like to see her prove that in a court of law. It seems obvious that Nadya does love her children, she loves kids so much she chose to keep having more and more. the most ridiculous law suite is the one claiming the babies were being used for child labour ? ? ? WHAT ? ? ?
    As they lay silently sleeping, I am sure that they did not raise a single drop of sweat, while a few snaps were taken. Since babies feed around the clock, at all hours of the night, what difference does it make about the time the photos were taken by the media. Child labour, invokes images of children down mine shafts covered in black soot, working and slaving away for their next morsel of bread. Not babies, lying in their cots in a beautiful Californian middle class suburb, with nannies to help with their every need. This Gloria Allred seems intent on trying to sabotage all efforts for Nadya to provide a comfortable future for her children, and a decent roof over their heads. Allred has tried to have the children removed and destroy a family, with no real reason to do so, except spite ! At first Allred said, she lives in a house too small to provide, and tried to stop Nadya raising her own kids, then when Nadya stepped up to the task, and purchased an adequate home to provide for the children, she tried to bring in child services, there are new accusations arising all the time, and it seems to me that Gloria Allred is out to get Nadya no matter what ! ! !
    I think Gloria allred is jealous of Nadya, after all Nadya is attractive and Gloria is NOT ATTRACTIVE, Nadya is flourishing with children all around her, and Allred is a jealous old hag !

    Enough said, I am disgusted in Allred for trying to remove those babies from their natural mother, for no good reason at all. Nadya is succeeding in employing all the help needed, providing a beautiful home, and loving kids so much she just had to have more.

    Gloria Allred is certainly the wicked stepmother in this scenario,
    from where I sit, and Nadya, has not done one spiteful evil thing to anyone, she just wants to raise her kids !

    Diana
    # posted by Anonymous Anonymous : May 05, 2009 1:19 PM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:38 | Quote

    But why anyone would hire such a person for a specific problem is utterly beyond me.

    If your problem is getting attention for your lawsuit, then Allred isn’t a bad lawyer to have.

    There are certainly bigshot lawyers out there I wouldn’t trust to tie my shoes, but Allred did win the ludicrous (and high-profile) Hunter Tylo lawsuit. She also won the ludicrous (and ultimately counter-productive) lawsuit against West Covina over Moe the violent chimpanzee. So there’s at least a track record behind the self-aggrandizement.
    # posted by Blogger Ted F. : May 06, 2009 12:18 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:39 | Quote

    Just remember everyone–this is the same Gloria Allred who tried to take Michael Jackson’s kids away after what happened in Berlin involving Jackson and one of his sons.
    She didn’t have standing to get involved then either–she got a lot of face time, however.

    Wouldn’t this be cause for something along the lines of Rule 11 sanctions (frivolous lawsuit, without standing)? Or, hauling her up before the disciplinary committee too?
    # posted by Anonymous Anonymous : May 06, 2009 1:28 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:39 | Quote

    Diana – you sound as mentally ill as Octomom. Scary!!! Lord help us all if you are not sickened by the enabling of the mentally ill who are harming themselves and others (innocent children in this case, and our society to boot).
    # posted by Anonymous Anonymous : May 06, 2009 5:58 PM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:39 | Quote

    Lisa — you are joking pulling out the gender card here, right?? Are you Lisa, Gloria’s TV daughter? That would be awesome!! LOL!

    I for one can think of more than one female lawyer in the US is is more famous, and, frankly, being famous for being on TV doesn’t cut it in my book. Anyone who starts off identifying themselves as the most famous anything deserves a razzing. How about most accomplished? This is not about gender, it is about getting slammed deservedly.
    # posted by Anonymous Anonymous : May 06, 2009 6:01 PM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:39 | Quote

    For years it was joked that the most dangerous place in the practice of law was between Alan Dershowitz and a camera. Perhaps it is time to update the joke.
    # posted by Anonymous Anonymous : May 06, 2009 8:14 PM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:39 | Quote

    Wrongful use of civil proceedings, Gloria is thy name.
    # posted by Anonymous Max Kennerly : May 06, 2009 9:26 PM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:39 | Quote

    This woman is a witch! Where is inquisition when you need them!?
    # posted by Anonymous Anonymous : May 07, 2009 1:24 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:40 | Quote

    If those kids didn’t have money, they’re certainly going to have it after Allred gets through paying Rule 11 sanctions. Maybe I should sue Allred for causing Octomom to pay legal fees? I have just as much standing as Allred does.
    # posted by Anonymous Anonymous : May 07, 2009 10:52 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:40 | Quote

    How is she even bringing this case? I haven’t read the complaint, but for the life of me, I can’t envision how she has standing. I don’t practice in California (nor do I practice family law), but I would assume the state has a rule that prohibits meritless or frivolous claims. To quote my teenaged nephew, “What a load of bunk.”
    # posted by Anonymous Anonymous : May 07, 2009 10:54 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:40 | Quote

    How is she even bringing this case?

    I have to assume that she has claimed some tangential relationship to the mother. My guess, like that of others, is that it will be insufficient.

    A far more interesting lawsuit would have been to have the State of California bringing a med mal suit against the fertility doc to recoup the extraordinary medical expenses that taxpayers paid via Medicaid. Of course, that also presents a problem since the mother isn’t suing, and I don’t see how the State can bring such a derivative suit without Suleman.

    But then, I don’t practice in CA so both of those comments are guesswork on my part.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : May 07, 2009 11:18 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:40 | Quote

    One of Gloria Allred’s advantages to clients is that when she takes a case, the case gets publicity, and when the actions of the defendant really are despicable (as most of those Allred goes after truly are), the media exposure usually results in almost immediate settlements favorable to her clients. Can you do that?
    # posted by Blogger Blue Dog Stew : May 07, 2009 12:52 PM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:40 | Quote

    One of Gloria Allred’s advantages to clients is that when she takes a case, the case gets publicity, and when the actions of the defendant really are despicable (as most of those Allred goes after truly are), the media exposure usually results in almost immediate settlements favorable to her clients. Can you do that?

    I don’t know, since I learned to try my cases in the courtroom and not in the press.

    But I think it safe to say that when it comes to child custody issues, most folks don’t just give up their kids because someone is hollering at them in the press. That makes media exposure irrelevant to a final determination.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : May 07, 2009 12:55 PM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:41 | Quote

    I would like to talk more about the lawyer you co-counseled with. In Australia we instruct barristers to do our advocacy and the most difficult yet very often worthwhile to instruct are the senior counsel or what used to be Queens Counsel. These SC (or silks after the material their robes are made from) are often vain, conceited and seemingly lazy. Many are the times in personal injury, workers compensation or medical negligence claims I have prepared a detailed brief sent months earlier and on picking up counsel up at the airport only a couple of hours before trial they have said to me: “Now Terry, what is this case about?” This stressed me amazingly until I realised the old showponies were just winding me up so I would be amazed at their competence when they got on their hind legs. I hope you learned something from your counsel in your case Eric.
    # posted by Blogger Terence O’Riain : May 11, 2009 12:06 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:41 | Quote

    This stressed me amazingly until I realised the old showponies were just winding me up so I would be amazed at their competence when they got on their hind legs. I hope you learned something from your counsel in your case Eric.

    Yes, I learned to be much more wary about who you try cases with. nd I learned that having years of experience in the courtroom doesn’t mean you are good at it.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : May 11, 2009 6:40 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:43 | Quote

    By declaring herself as a ‘celebrity’, it only proves that she is not. Honestly, what could she ever get by suing ‘Octomom’? Obviously fame, publicity, whatever you want to call it. The last thing Nadya wants is to be sued by some celebrity lawyer because she inadequately ‘loves’ her babies? Good luck presenting that to a sane set of jury. If she could do that, she might as well sue any rich man for being not ‘masculine’ enough. See the problem?
    # posted by Anonymous Tom St. Louis : May 21, 2009 10:52 AM

  • Comments 2010.6.21 at 00:43 | Quote

    Definitely sounds like a bit of jealousy to me.

    Diana- Get your facts straight. No one is trying to take those babies away from their “mother” (I use that term loosely here. Paul Petersen brought the petition to have a FINANCIAL guardian ad litem appointed- someone to watch and make sure the children’s financial interests are being taken care of.
    # posted by Anonymous Donna : August 07, 2009 8:02 PM

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