Bloomberg Law
May 18, 2023, 9:48 PM

Moonves Leak Meant ‘Staggering’ Suffering for Ex-Big Law Lawyer

Sam Skolnik
Sam Skolnik

An ex-Covington & Burling attorney has acknowledged her role in leaking information about the sexual harassment probe into former CBS chief executive officer Les Moonves.

Allison Diercks, who resigned from Covington after the firm suspended her, told the New York Times she doesn’t regret leaking despite the “staggering amounts of suffering” it has caused. She acknowledged she broke attorney-client privilege.

“What I did was wrong,” Diercks said in a Times podcast. “It was against the rules. There was no nuance to it. There’s no way around the bare fact that I violated a sacrosanct, bedrock principle of the profession that I spent years in school and went into debt for.”

CBS’s board hired Covington and Debevoise & Plimpton in 2018 to look into a dozen complaints of sexual harassment. Moonves agreed to step down later that year from CBS, now a unit of Paramount Global, and the board denied him a $120 million severance payment.

The D.C. Court of Appeals in early 2021 suspended Diercks from practicing law for 18 months. She said in the podcast she hasn’t applied to reinstate her license, even though the suspension has ended. In the last year, she said has found work as an on-call court reporter, according to the Times.

A disciplinary counsel advised her that Covington would fight her “tooth and nail” if she ever applied to get her license back, Diercks told the Times.

“I’m very, very, very worried about the law firm continuing to come after me,” Diercks said in the podcast. “It’s one thing to take your licks, accept your punishment and disappear. And it’s entirely another thing to come back and stand up and talk about it.”

A Covington spokesman declined comment. Diercks could not be reached for comment.

Covington Role

Diercks was one of about 35 people at Covington to review documents in the Moonves case, including emails and memos, according to the Times podcast. She said it was in that role when she began to see evidence of abusive behavior from Moonves and consistent support for him from “the upper echelons” of CBS management.

She said she decided to contact the Times when she became concerned that CBS might not act on the evidence that she and others had uncovered.

After Covington tracked her down as the leaker, the firm placed Diercks on leave, according to the podcast. Soon after, she quit.

Diercks conceded that she lied to Covington attorneys when she denied playing any role in the leak.

Diercks had options when weighing whether to avoid violating privilege and still abide by her moral compass, said Miami-based legal ethics consultant Jan Jacobowitz.

“What a lawyer has a right to do is to withdraw from representing a client, or to quit their job, which is not easy to do,” Jacobowitz said. “The underlying policy consideration is: Clients have to be able to talk to their lawyers—and to trust them.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at; John Hughes at

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