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Feminist lawyer Gloria Allred: “I don’t invest my time in feeling despondent”

By Leah Fessler
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Gloria Allred self-identifies as the most famous female attorney practicing law in the US today, a fearless advocate for justice and equality, and, definitively, a feminist lawyer. She’s not a fan of equivocal language. “There is a war on women,” she says in Seeing Allredan upcoming Netflix documentary on her career. “This has got to end, and it’s got to end right now.”

Since 1976, Allred has relentlessly waged a battle against sexual predators and systemic patriarchy in courts across the country. Her career is fueled by her own experience having survived a violent rape and near-fatal abortion in her twenties. ”I help people evolve from becoming a victim, to becoming a survivor, to becoming a fighter for change,” Allred says in the trailer of Seeing Allred, which will be released on Feb. 9. “Women depend on me to be strong and to assert and protect their rights.”

“Many, many changes are needed in the justice system in order to provide true justice for women and minorities.”

Beginning her career at a time when few lawyers were willing to take on sexual-harassment cases, Allred has since defended a number of high-profile clients. These have included the family of OJ Simpson’s slain wife, Nicole Brown Simpson; Mel “Scary Spice” Brown, who was successful in claiming that actor Eddie Murphy had fathered her child; Rachel Uchitel, the most well-known of Tiger Woods’s mistresses; some of the women who accused comedian Bill Cosby of rape; Summer Zervos, a former Apprentice contestant who says Donald Trump aggressively kissed and fondled her; and one of the women who accused former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore of sexual assault.

By all accounts, the 76-year-old attorney has no intention of slowing down. “You’d have to drag her kicking and screaming out of the office,” says her daughter Lisa Bloom to the New Yorker.

In an interview with Quartz, Allred explains the greatest legal barrier in protecting women from sexual misconduct and the futility of feeling despondent.

1. What’s your big idea that other people aren’t thinking about or wouldn’t agree with? Why is it so important?

It is time to eliminate all statutes of limitations for both criminal and civil cases involving rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and sexual harassment.

2. What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute to your success?

Preparation, persistence, taking educated risks, integrity, and good communication with clients.

3. If you could make one change to help women at work, what would it be?

More women at top levels of businesses and corporations.

4. At the start of your career, what do you wish you had known? What, if anything, do you wish you had not believed?

That many, many changes are needed in the justice system in order to provide true justice for women and minorities.

5. When in your career did you feel most despondent, and what did you do to turn it around?

I don’t invest my time in feeling despondent.

6. A key part of success is building strong professional relationships. What practice do you use to cultivate them with your colleagues?

Mutual respect, good communication, and valuing the contributions of others are important qualities.

7. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I never met Mother Jones, the famous labor organizer, but I like her quote: “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

8. If there’s one thing men can do to improve women’s life at work, it would be…

To make sure that women enjoy the title, the pay, and the responsibility that men in similar jobs enjoy, and make sure that there is no sexual harassment in the workplace.

This interview is part of How We’ll Win, a project exploring the fight for gender equality at work. Read more interviews with industry-leading women here.

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