AFJ to Honor Roberta Kaplan with “Champion of Justice” Award

By: 
Alliance for Justice
Published on:
December 5th, 2018
Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 3, 2018 – Alliance for Justice is pleased to announce that it will honor attorney Roberta Kaplan, founding partner of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, with a Champion of Justice award at its Champions for Justice dinner in New York on Tuesday, December 4.

“Roberta Kaplan is a breath of fresh air and an inspiration to all of us in these difficult times,” said Nan Aron, President of Alliance for Justice. “That’s why it is such a pleasure to honor her this year. Roberta’s commitment to her principles has never wavered. Her historic victory in the Windsor case is just one example of how millions of people’s lives can benefit when our legal system is used as a force for good, and her continued dedication to public interest law inspires us and encourages us every day.”

“I’m so honored to be receiving this award from Alliance for Justice, which remains at the forefront of the struggle to build and maintain a justice system that honors the rights of all,” said Ms. Kaplan. “These have been very challenging times for our country and our democracy. Now more than ever, it’s vitally important to take a moment to reaffirm our shared commitment to a legal system devoted to our Constitutional values and the rule of law. We must provide justice for everyone, including the most vulnerable members of our society. That is the work AFJ does every day.”

Roberta  (“Robbie”) Kaplan began her career clerking for Judge Mark Wolf of the District Court of Massachusetts and later for Chief Judge Judith Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals.  As a clerk to Judge Kaye, she worked on the decision that affirmed the right of gay families to adopt children in New York State.  She joined the Paul Weiss firm in 1992, and became a litigation partner there in 1999.

After her clerkships, Ms. Kaplan remained a trailblazer in the arena of LGBTQ rights. In 2006, in Hernandez v. Robles, she argued before the New York Court of Appeals seeking to obtain the right of gay couples to marry under the New York State Constitution. That case did not succeed, but a few short years later, in 2009, she agreed to represent Edith Windsor pro bono in the case that would ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court as United States v. Windsor (2013).  That historic decision stands as a landmark in American jurisprudence and in the LGBTQ rights movement.

After Windsor, Ms. Kaplan and her team went on to litigate three separate, though related, cases in Mississippi.  In 2013, they won a case seeking marriage equality in Mississippi. Next, they sued to overturn Mississippi’s ban on adoption by gay and lesbian couples. Then, Ms. Kaplan worked with the Campaign for Southern Equality in its efforts to defeat Mississippi’s HB 1523, an anti-LGBT “religious freedom” law.

In 2017, Ms. Kaplan founded her own firm, Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, which does cutting-edge commercial litigation alongside important public interest cases.  Today, while representing clients including Airbnb, Uber, Columbia University, and many others, Ms. Kaplan also represents ten plaintiffs who have invoked the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 to sue twenty-four neo-Nazi and white supremacist individuals and organizations responsible for the conspiracy to commit racially-motivated violence that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. In recent weeks, the firm filed a RICO lawsuit against the Trump family in connection with their operation of an enterprise to fraudulently promote and endorse business opportunities and training programs in which thousands of Americans lost money.

Ms. Kaplan is also a co-founder of the Times Up Legal Defense Fund, which helps to provide legal assistance to people who have experienced sexual assault, harassment, and abuse.  She successfully represented Melanie Kohler in the defamation case brought against her by Hollywood producer Brett Ratner.  She currently represents Moira Donegan, creator of the “s****y media men” list, in another “backlash” defamation case.