Gloria Allred: 14 Facts About The Famous Attorney Representing Epstein's Victims

The following article includes references to sexual violence.

In America, anybody can be a celebrity — including lawyers. Enter Gloria Allred, who has become a public figure in her own right after representing famous clients. She's known for making sure her clients get their voices heard, no matter how many press conferences she needs to call. Some have even accused Allred of making victims into celebrities, an accusation she discussed with CNN. "A lot of my clients have not begun as celebrities," she said. "Because they were involved with a man who was a celebrity, they have become, in a sense, celebrity victims."

While Allred's knack for getting the media to pay attention has drawn criticism, it's also the reason she's as successful as she is — and the reason her clients often win massive settlements. "In 35 years we've never paid one penny for P.R.," her law partner Michael Maroko told The New York Times. "Gloria just has an ability to handle the mishegas. She can face 150 cameras as cool as a cucumber."

Allred's career in law — and in the media — stretches back decades. She's remained in the headlines thanks to her involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein case, but Allred has been on the frontlines for years, fighting for women and underrepresented minorities since the very beginning.

Gloria Allred almost dropped out of high school

Gloria Allred was born July 3, 1941. Though she's now known for handling high-profile legal cases where settlements often reach seven figures, Allred came from relatively humble beginnings. "I grew up in Southwest Philly, on Springfield Avenue," she told Philadelphia Magazine. "My parents had an eighth-grade education. We had no car. It was a one-new-dress-a-year situation."

This made the young Allred self-conscious, especially at school. She attended Philadelphia High School for Girls, also known as Girls' High, a magnet school with rigorous academic standards. Though she was granted admission to Girls' High, Allred found herself comparing her circumstances with the other kids at school. She was embarrassed by how their family lives lined up. "So many of the girls had parents who were doctors, lawyers, elected officials. And then there was me," she said. "My dad was a door-to-door salesman. My mother was at home."

As a result, Allred said she considered dropping out, feeling like she didn't fit in. When she told a guidance counselor that she planned to leave school, she revealed that the most successful student in her class had an IQ only five points ahead of Allred's. That convinced her to stick it out. "I received so, so much encouragement there from so many women teachers," Allred recalled. "They helped me believe in myself and realize that I could make a difference."

She had a contentious divorce from her second husband

When Gloria Allred first went to law school and opened her own firm, she was married to a man named William Allred. Previously, Gloria was briefly married to Peyton Huddleston Bray, Jr. They divorced in 1962. Gloria's second husband had founded a manufacturing company called Donallco, but in the mid-1980s, the company was investigated, reported The New Yorker. William was convicted of conspiring to defraud the government, and his company was accused of selling counterfeit airplane parts. Gloria and William separated and then divorced — but it was quite contentious, stretching into the early 1990s as Bill served time in prison.

Things reached a boiling point in 1992 when Gloria was awarded $4 million in the divorce. Bill contested the amount at a bankruptcy hearing and remarked to The Los Angeles Times, "I put her through law school and now she's going to take everything I ever earned. I don't think feminists would approve of that." Gloria, for her part, released a statement that read, "I consider his statements about me defamatory and I am saddened that he has chosen to publicly attack me instead of paying the judgment." Later, Gloria told Los Angeles Magazine, "We had something special for a while. ... There's nothing in any article that will explain what really happened. I'll just leave it at that."

In 2010, Gloria told The New York Times that she had no interest in ever getting married again. "I'm not interested in dating," she said. "I like being with my own best friend, me."

Allred sued a men-only club for membership

In 1987, Gloria Allred decided she wanted to be a member of the Friars Club. Until that point, the club's members were only men (and a few honorary members who were women), but Allred applied anyway. President Milton Berle welcomed her into the club. "Their action shows leadership, courage, imagination and good will," Allred remarked at the time (via UPI). A few months later, she wanted to have lunch at the New York Friars Club. They didn't let her in, insisting that the New York branch was only for men. Allred filed a sex discrimination complaint, telling reporters at a press conference, "A Friar policy of sex segregation which excludes females is as damaging as a policy of racial segregation would be if it excluded blacks" (via The New York Times).

The following year, Allred clashed with the Beverly Hills club. Though she had been welcomed as a member, women still weren't allowed to use the sauna. "She's going to milk this thing for all the story's worth," legal committee chairman William Sarnoff said, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Decades later, she was roasted at the Friars Club, suggesting they'd been able to settle their differences. According to a source who spoke with Page Six, Allred recounted the end of the sauna saga. "After winning, she put on a 1890s-style bathing suit," the source said. "She knocked and announced herself, then entered holding a measuring stick and singing 'Is That All There Is?'"

She has long fought for abortion rights

As a longtime supporter of women's rights, Gloria Allred has been on the front lines of the fight for abortion rights. She has gone public with her own history with abortion, revealing at a rally that she was raped (via CNN). "I had to get a back-alley abortion in a bathtub from a person who was not licensed, they were just doing it for the money," she recalled. She wound up in the hospital after hemorrhaging. "The nurse said to me, 'This should teach you a lesson,'" Allred recalled. "The lesson I did learn is that abortion should be safe, legal, affordable and available."

During a clash in the 1980s with the government of California, Gloria Allred presented State Senator John Schmitz with a chastity belt. He insulted her publicly, putting out a press release that called her a "a slick butch lawyeress." Allred sued for libel; she won an apology and $20,000."I felt that these statements must not go unchallenged because they could deter members of the public from exercising their constitutional right to testify," Allred told The Los Angeles Times.

Allred also later represented Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe, the defendant in the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide until it was overturned in 2022. In a column for Variety following the new ruling, Allred wrote, "From the bottom of my heart and my womb, I urge you to join me in fighting for justice for women."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Gloria Allred was involved in the O.J. trial

Gloria Allred has been involved in some of the highest-profile trials in American legal history, including what many would consider the highest-profile trial of all. When O.J. Simpson was tried for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, Allred served as the lawyer for his ex-wife's family.

In 1994, she called for District Attorney Gil Garcetti to consider the death penalty. "If Mr. Simpson committed the murders with which he is charged, he certainly shouldn't get a break from the D.A. on the death penalty," she said, according to The Los Angeles Times. The former football star was infamously acquitted. In Allred's memoir, "Fight Back and Win," she wrote, "I felt that it was a sad indictment of the criminal justice system and could have serious consequences."

The "Naked Gun" star ultimately went to prison for an unrelated armed robbery charge in 2008; he was released on parole in 2017. Allred was unhappy. She worked with a Nevada legislator to draft a bill that would make parole boards take domestic violence into account. "Justice is blind, but it should not be blind to the public legal record," Allred said, pointing out that he was convicted in 1989 of spousal battery, which the parole board never heard (via The Hollywood Reporter). She noted, "If a parole board had been able to consider the full legal record of Mr. Simpson, they might have found that releasing him could present a risk of harm to the community."

Gloria Allred was ejected from the courtroom during the Cosby trial

At first, Gloria Allred wasn't sure she wanted to get involved with the high-profile trial of Bill Cosby, who was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting numerous women. "I thought, 'It's too late for me to file a legal claim,'" she told ABC News, noting that the statute of limitations had expired on many of his alleged crimes. "But then, as I listened to the women, I understood they wanted to have a voice, and they wanted to speak out," Allred recalled. And so she got involved. "Justice is long overdue for these great women," she said at a press conference, "and they will be silent no more."

Cosby did ultimately face charges, and Allred was present in court for the case. However, in an embarrassing incident in June 2017, she was removed from the courtroom when her phone rang. "It was so off!" she insisted to the New York Daily News. "I don't understand how a phone rings when it's off."

Thankfully, Allred was allowed to return, and Cosby was convicted on numerous charges, though the conviction was later overturned. In a separate civil case in 2022, Allred represented a woman who accused him of sexual battery, and he was found liable. At a press conference, Cosby's crisis manager, Andrew Wyatt, accused Allred of being a "self-proclaimed, self-righteous civil rights attorney." Allred responded, "People who engage in personal attacks and name-calling do so because they really don't have a good argument." 

If it came to it, Allred would've served as the opposing counsel to her daughter

The entertainment world was rocked by the emergence of the #MeToo movement in 2017. Considering her long history of speaking out on behalf of victims of sexual assault, one might expect Gloria Allred to have been one of the most prominent figures in the ensuing legal battles. Instead, it was her daughter — Lisa Bloom, also a high-powered attorney — who found herself in the spotlight. Bloom agreed to represent accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, drawing criticism from Allred's followers who were surprised that her daughter wasn't following in her footsteps.

Allred released a statement to Vanity Fair about her daughter's choice of client. "Had I been asked by Mr. Weinstein to represent him, I would have declined, because I do not represent individuals accused of sex harassment," she said. "I would consider representing anyone who accused Mr. Weinstein of sexual harassment, even if it meant that my daughter was the opposing counsel."

Bloom dropped Weinstein little more than a week after her mother's statement. "I can see that my just being associated with this was a mistake," she told BuzzFeed News. For her part, Allred refused to criticize her daughter further, explaining in an interview with ABC News that she would be stepping back from the discussion. "My daughter has a separate law firm and she makes her own decisions about who her clients are going to be," she said. "I'm not here to second-guess her in any way."

She's been a long-time advocate for LGBTQ+ rights

For decades, Gloria Allred has been a trailblazing legal activist on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. Allred represented David Engel, a man who won a landmark Supreme Court case in 1983 that created protections for LGBTQ+ customers. Engel and a friend were denied placement in a book of photos from their high school reunion on the basis of being gay, which Allred argued was discriminatory. However, the ruling was overturned in 2023, when the Supreme Court found that businesses can discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. In a press conference, Allred said states should step in and pass stronger protections. She advised, "I always say... 'First we cry, and then we fight.'"

In her memoir "Fight Back and Win," Allred recounted the 1983 tale of Zandra Rolon and Deborah Johnson, a lesbian couple who were denied the ability to eat at the best section of a restaurant as they were reserved for opposite-sex couples. Allred won the case, forcing restaurants to end the practice of segregating rooms based on sexual orientation. "You don't have to accept second-class citizenship because of your sexual orientation," Allred wrote. "Stand up for your civil rights and fight back."

In the early '90s, Allred also represented victims of AIDS discrimination, including at the height of the epidemic. "We will not rest until persons with AIDS enjoy all of the protections which the law can provide," Allred remarked, as The Los Angeles Times reported at the time.

She's been accused of ambulance-chasing

Not everybody is a fan of Gloria Allred's style, which often involves flashy press conferences and a preternatural tendency to find a camera. Critics have called her an "ambulance chaser," a term for the kind of lawyer who follows people at their worst moment just because they know there's a payday. Comedian Chelsea Handler once called out Allred in a blog post. "If all she's concerned about is women who are wronged, there are plenty of women with regular jobs in the Midwest that nobody has ever heard of who have been cheated on by their husbands," Handler wrote (via The New York Times). She'd also earlier accused Allred of "setting the women's movement back a hundred years."

Allred has denied accusations of ambulance-chasing or of only choosing the cases that she thinks will get her attention. In an interview with the Associated Press, Allred explained, "I'm not a politician. I don't put my finger in the wind to try to determine which way it is blowing, to try to curry favor with the public" (via The Legal Intelligencer). Instead, she said she's guided by a simple principle. She claimed, "I do what I believe is right."

Most of Gloria Allred's cases don't involve celebrities

While Gloria Allred is famous for taking on clients who are in the news, she told Harper's Bazaar that that's far from all she does in the legal realm. "More than 90 percent [of my cases] are confidential. You don't know about them and never will," she said. According to her memoir "Fight Back and Win," Allred also loves taking on smaller cases that nevertheless represent larger systemic issues.

In 1984, Allred became aware of a woman who was being charged more at her local dry cleaners simply because she was a woman. Allred held a press conference outside the store announcing that she planned to bring a lawsuit, and the chain's vice president immediately agreed to equalize prices across all of their locations. "Sometimes it only takes a small push to get a big result," Allred wrote. A year later, Allred represented a 3-year-old girl named Yael Miller. Miller's mother was charged $2 more for her daughter's haircut than her son's, even though her daughter's cut was quicker.

In a message on her website, Allred addressed regular people who may feel like they don't have the same power as her celebrity clients. "To those who suffer the daily indignity of discrimination and are treated as second-class citizens or as sexual objects, I say, 'Enough!'" Allred advised. "Don't tolerate it for a single day or even a single minute."

She didn't mind SNL's spoof of her

In 2010, Gloria Allred represented Nicky Diaz Santillan, the former housekeeper of then-California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. Diaz worked as an undocumented immigrant in Whitman's home for almost a decade, and Allred made headlines when she introduced her client to the press. Allred claimed that Whitman exhibited "cold and heartless treatment of a hardworking Latina," according to CBS News.

That weekend, "Saturday Night Live" poked fun of Allred and her press conferences. "Is there anything you won't do to push your butt-ugly mug in front of a camera?" the sketch asked, while Nasim Pedrad answered as Gloria, "I have to think about that, but I guess my answer would be 'No.'"

Later, Allred released a statement to Radar Online saying she enjoyed the sketch — and she took the opportunity to include a teachable moment about her long record of fighting for people who don't have a voice. "I am a fan of 'Saturday Night Live' and I have watched them over the years poke fun at Presidents, Governors and celebrities," she said. "I laughed when I saw those and I smiled when I saw this comic portrayal of me, but standing up for women and minorities who have been denied their rights is no laughing matter."

Her NDA policy is controversial

When Gloria Allred obtains settlements for her clients, she often seeks non-disclosure agreements that prevent either party from talking about the conclusion of the case. This practice has drawn criticism, with some saying it only serves to keep victims from going public with details about their abusers. An opinion piece in The Hill, for example, doubted Allred's justification that perpetrators are more likely to settle when NDAs are involved; California, after all, has outlawed NDAs that protect abusers.

As a result, Allred has had to defend her position on these agreements several times. Speaking with Business Insider, Allred said that she simply wants to give her clients the option of settling or going to trial. "Their choice has been taken away from them by the accused sexual predator, and I'm there to support her having a choice," she insisted.

The lawyer elaborated on her position in an op-ed for The Los Angeles Times, acknowledging that her use of NDAs may seem contrary to her normal position on victims having a voice. "Some people may be shocked that lawyers, especially a feminist lawyer like me, would ever assist a client to enter a confidential settlement," she said. "The alternative, however, would be to insist that victims be denied the choice to settle their case, and be forced to file lawsuits, appear for depositions, answer interrogatories, testify publicly under oath and take the risk that a jury will not believe them."

Despite Epstein's death, Gloria Allred continues to represent many of his victims

In July 2019, Gloria Allred announced that she would be representing an undisclosed number of people who were allegedly victims of Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier who was accused of running a vast sex-trafficking operation. "There's still time for any accusers to come forward," Allred announced, according to The Daily Beast. "It is not too late to help in the process of seeking justice." Mere weeks later, Epstein died by suicide in jail.

Even though Epstein is no longer around to stand trial for his crimes, Allred hasn't let up. In 2023, she sent a letter to the Department of Justice on behalf of her clients, asking for more information about the circumstances that allowed Epstein to harm himself in custody. "The victims of Mr. Epstein deserve to be told the truth about how and why the justice system failed them again," she wrote, according to documents published by Business Insider. Allred has also hit out at Prince Andrew for his association with Epstein, sending a bus to London with a sign urging the royal to speak with the FBI. "If he thinks we're going away and forgetting ... he's wrong," she said in a video shared by The Guardian.

Allred has continued her advocacy in 2024, representing 20 of Epstein's victims. She explained things simply to News Nation, insisting, "Here's what my clients want ... They want to know everything they can about what happened to them and why."

Gloria Allred has no plans to retire

Gloria Allred has been working in law for decades at this point, living her life in the spotlight as she fights for the rights of victims. One might expect that her career is beginning to wind down; after all, in 2023, she celebrated her 82nd birthday. However, over the past decade, Allred has said she has no plans to ever retire. She told The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 that she could never give it up because she still enjoys the variety in her career. "Every day is an adventure," she said.

She told ABC News something similar in 2018, insisting that she wants to keep working because her clients need her. "She explained that she lives by "the Gandhi quote, that you must be the change you wish to see in the world." She continued, saying, "I need to live that change, and I do feel I have a duty to help others."

Allred's daughter, lawyer Lisa Bloom, confirmed to The New Yorker that her mom isn't going anywhere — at least not willingly. "You'd have to drag her kicking and screaming out of the office," Bloom joked. Considering who might take up her mantle in the future, Allred mused, "I hope the next Gloria Allred is many, many young lawyers."