So what do you do when you’re the only child of the most famous female attorney in the United States? Most people in that situation would go running from the law, but not Lisa Bloom, the daughter of famed L.A. women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. Bloom has carved out a career for herself in the law. Indeed, she spent a decade working in her mother’s firm handling high-profile cases herself – such as suing the Boy Scouts of America over sex discrimination – before moving to New York to be a host of her own Court TV show, and establishing herself as a legal commentator on CNN and other networks. Two years ago, she moved back to Los Angeles, where her fiancé lives, and opened the Bloom Firm, which handles a variety of cases. But what really drives her these days is a goal to write one book a year. Her first book, published last year, “Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World” was a New York Times best seller. It’s about women in an era of degrading reality television and a culture obsessed with beauty. Bloom recently sat down with the Business Journal at her Woodland Hills office to talk about her relationship with her famous mother, why international travel is so important and why she wants to write a book every year.
Question: How was it growing up with your mom being one of the biggest lawyers in the country?
Answer: I saw her go through a lot. She went to law school when I was in middle school, then became a lawyer in my early years of high school and immediately started doing cases that got media attention. One of them was one that I pointed out to her at a Sav-On drugstore.
What happened there?
The toy aisle had one side marked “Girls Toys” and the other side was marked “Boys Toys.” The girls’ side had play vacuum cleaners, fake mops, etc., and the boys’ side had all the (play) money. And I said, “This is wrong. Why shouldn’t some of the money be on the girls’ side?” And she agreed. So she ended up suing Sav-On.
Just like that?
Well, we had a protest with me and my friends, my mom and some other mothers out front. I was probably 14 or 15. And they changed their policy immediately and just put up signs that said “Toys” from that point on. It was a great awakening for me because I thought, “Wow, you can actually get someone to change something.” And it wasn’t that hard.
Did your mom influence you to go to law school?
It was definitely a combination of things. In the beginning, my mom definitely pushed me. Then in college, when I was winning so many debate tournaments, everyone said, “Hey, you should go to law school.” It made sense. But my mom definitely pushed it and I’m glad she did.
What’s the best advice your mother ever gave you?
To live your values. And one of the things that she says about me is “My daughter lives her values,” which is a great compliment.
What are your values?
Being respectful and treating everyone with consideration –especially remembering people at the bottom of the ladder; people who are struggling, poor, disabled. Everyone deserves respect. And part of my obligation is to help people who are less fortunate. Life isn’t about making money. It’s about making a difference.
With both you and your mom having very strong personalities, did you ever bump heads?
Actually, people would be surprised. We’re both strong-willed women. But we also have great love and respect for one another. So with any kind of conflict, we usually just agree to disagree. We’re very close. And with everything we’re here to love and support each other.
You went on to practice law with your mom for 10 years. How was that?
My mother, who has always been a big influence in my life, was always telling me that I should go out to Los Angeles and practice law with her. I was in New York at that time. And I was resistant. I guess I just wanted to establish myself first on my own terms, and I was offered early partnership at Robinson Silverman. I loved the people there. I enjoyed the practice. But I looked up the totem pole and saw the life that a lot of those partners had, which was working very long hours, 24-7. They didn’t get to see their families. People were depressed and unhappy. And I thought this is not the life I want to have. My kids were little at that time. So we left New York in 1991 and came out here.
And that’s when you started practicing with your mom?
I practiced with my mom at her firm, which is Allred Maroko & Goldberg. And that was until 2001. I had a great time practicing law with my mom.
Did you get the independence you were hoping for?
I had a lot of independence. I had all my own cases. And we did a lot of interesting and important work. I represented a girl who was suing the Boy Scouts for sex discrimination.
What was that about?
A girl was suing the Boy Scouts. Her name was Katrina Yeaw. She had a twin brother. And she was more interested in the things that he was doing in the Boy Scouts than what she was doing in the Girl Scouts. And she said, “Why should I be deprived of a youth activity because of my gender?” And I thought what an interesting thing to say. And she said here is my research. And it turns out that all over the world, Scouting was coed. The only place where it was still single sex was the U.S., Yemen and a very small number of other countries.
Did you win it?
At the time that we were litigating her case, there were three cases; we call them “girls, gays and God.” The gay case went all the way to the California Supreme Court, which said that they are a private organization and they have the right to discriminate on any grounds they want. So our case at that time was working its way up the system and once that decision came down, that was the end of our case. But it really wasn’t the end because a lot of the organizations that had previously given money to the Boy Scouts stopped doing it.
What did you love about that case?
My client, Katrina. She was so inspiring to me. She would never give up. She had done her research and she wanted to do something about it and it was my privilege to try and help her.
But then you left your mom’s firm. What happened?
So in 2001, Court TV had offered me my own show in New York. Prior to that, I had been doing some television as a legal commentator. They saw my passion for the law and justice. At first I said I don’t want to go back to New York, I like Los Angeles. But when I went out there in February to meet everybody, I got on the set and started talking about cases and interviewing Nancy Grace as if she were a guest on the show, I thought “Oh, I really want to do this. This is a lot of fun.” So they offered me the job and I said yes. I was an anchorwoman hosting my own show live, five days a week, two hours a day.
Why did you leave the show?
I fell in love with Braden, who lives here. And I decided I wanted to come to L.A where he lived. Also, Court TV was making a lot of changes at the time. It was the right time. My youngest child was going off to college. So in 2009, I made the decision to come back to L.A. and give up my Court TV show and start this law firm, the Bloom Firm, and write my books. I continue to do TV as a guest.
What kinds of cases are you handling now?
We do family law, we do business, and I do a lot of media and First Amendment issues. It’s a true general practice law firm. Most law firms specialize now. I’ve been doing this for a long time, since 1986. I’ve practiced in a lot of different areas of the law. I’m pretty comfortable in a lot of different areas in the law.
Tell us about your books. You decided to write just like that?
I have no fears at all about writing. My only fears are that I won’t have enough time in this lifetime to write all the books I want or that I write books that I’m not proud of when I look back at them. I always write books that are meaningful to me, books that I know I will always be proud of. You can’t write if you have fears. You have to put the voice aside in your head. You can’t doubt yourself. I’m determined a book a year. I’m 50 years old and I think when I turned 50, it kind of lit a fire under me, like, “OK, you can’t waste time anymore.”
Your first book, “Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World,” hit No. 15 on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. Tell me about it.
It’s a book about how tabloid media reality shows and the beauty industry are dumbing down women and girls, and what we can do to push back and reclaim our brains.
So how can women do that?
Straight from my book, the best advice I can give can be summed up in one word: read. Don’t be one of the 80 percent of people who didn’t read a book last year. Reading is mental fitness. It is a workout for your brain. You just cannot get enough intelligent information without a steady diet of written articles, commentary and, most importantly, books. Readers do better in school, earn more money, are better citizens, have happier personal lives and are more actively engaged in the world around us.
What about your second book?
My second book just came out a couple of months ago and is called “Swagger: 10 Urgent Rules for Raising Boys in an Era of Failing Schools, Mass Joblessness and Thug Culture.” That’s about how our culture is hammering boys and how they are doing very poorly in school compared to girls, and what parents can do to raise strong, successful boys.
How can they do that?
Young people know about “swagger” and “swag” and part of it is just fun and puffing yourself out with confidence. And that’s all good. But unfortunately for a lot of boys and young men, it’s really crossed the line into arrogance. And that’s what really harms them. Because a young man who is arrogant does poorly in school, has emotional issues, is more likely to fight, drink, do drugs. So what I tell parents to do in the book is teach your kid humility instead of swagger. And humility is this old-school value that we hardly talk about anymore. Everybody deserves your respect and consideration.
What are you focusing on for your next book?
Not only am I writing my first fiction, but it’s a fiction trilogy. So that’s a new challenge for me and it’s exciting – starring a kick-ass female lawyer, of course.
Do you have time for anything else in your life?
My fiancé and I are very active in animal rights organizations and in sort of the healthy vegan sort of lifestyle. I exercise every day. We kind of have an unusual life because our goal is to travel internationally three months a year. I hit it last year, so three one-month trips. So international travel is a big part of my life.
That’s a lot of traveling.
It gives me a different perspective in what I do in all of the areas that I do – in my law practice, in my writing, in my legal commentary. Because I feel that in the U.S., people tend to be very focused on what we do and we should all learn from each other. If other countries have a way of doing things that works out better than the way we’re doing it, then we should learn from that.
I love Thailand. It’s a beautiful country. The people have a very gracious way about them. The beaches are just spectacularly beautiful. It’s ridiculous. I love Thai food. I also love Argentina. We went out on a glacier– the Perito Moreno Glacier. In fact, that’s where Braden proposed to me – on the glacier. How could I say no?
How romantic. So when’s the wedding?
Probably this December, although we really haven’t decided entirely. This December will be five years together. So that probably seems like a good time.
Gotta ask. How do you manage everything you do?
A lot of the time I’m multitasking. I also like working out every day. So when I’m working out, I’m reading a brief. I have to be very careful about delegating. I have very good staff. But there are still a lot of things that I personally need to be doing.
Do you ever see yourself retiring?
I don’t ever see myself retiring. Period. My fantasy would be eventually just writing books and that’s all I do. But not yet – I still love practicing law. I don’t see the appeal of retiring. And that’s one of the reasons why Braden and I have built our life around the three-months-a-year travel model. Because a lot of people work and work and work, and they say I’ll travel when I retire. Well, I don’t want to wait till I’m 65 or 70.
So what’s next on the itinerary?
We’re going ice camping in Greenland. People probably don’t want to do that when they’re 70. Actually, some people do. When we were in China, there was an 82-year-old woman in sneakers who was out in front of our group every day and we had to struggle to keep up with her. God bless her. And that’s going to be me.
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