NEW YORK, NY, January 12, 2023 – Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP announced today that world-renowned constitutional law scholar Laurence (“Larry”) Tribe from Harvard Law School will be joining the firm as Of Counsel. While at Harvard, Tribe served as the Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Harvard’s highest academic title. His students at Harvard included former President Barack Obama, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Attorney General Merrick Garland, U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff and Jamie Raskin, and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. Tribe’s influential treatise American Constitutional Law (published in three editions) remains one of the most widely cited texts in the American legal system.  

Throughout his career, Tribe presented oral argument to the United States Supreme Court in 35 cases and won a strong majority of the many appellate cases he has argued. One of his more notable Supreme Court victories is Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. National Gay Task Force, where he successfully defended an opinion holding that teachers could not be fired for advocating equality for gays and lesbians. Tribe also authored the ACLU’s amicus brief for the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, helping to pave the way for marriage equality. During the disputed presidential election in 2000, Tribe served as lead counsel for former Vice President Al Gore’s legal team. During the Obama Administration, Tribe was appointed by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to serve as the first Senior Counselor for Access to Justice. More recently, Tribe was appointed by President Biden to serve as a member of the President’s Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Since his earliest days as a lawyer and continuing through the present, Tribe has represented clients in a wide range of complex commercial and civil rights matters. One of his recent projects (which he will be bringing with him to Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP) includes representing Coca Cola as its chief constitutional counsel in The Coca-Cola Co. v. Commissioner, where Coca Cola disputes the retroactive application of IRS tax collection methods involving transfer pricing. 

Tribe has also represented state and local officials in all manner of proceedings, including victories at the United States Supreme Court in Boston v. Anderson (defending a municipality’s expenditure on a statewide referendum from a First Amendment challenge), Fisher v. City of Berkeley (upholding a city’s rent control ordinance from a claim of federal preemption), Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff (upholding a state land reform measure from a federal substantive due process challenge), PG&E v. California Energy Resources Conservation & Energy Comm’n (upholding a state nuclear power plant moratorium from a claim of federal preemption), and White v. Mass. Council of Construction Employers (upholding a municipal hiring preference from a dormant commerce clause attack). This work was celebrated by then-Professor David Barron in The Promise of Tribe’s City: Self-Government, the Constitution, and a New Urban Age, 42 Tulsa L. Rev. 811 (2007). 

“I am thrilled to join the incredible team at Kaplan Hecker & Fink,” said Tribe. “Since its founding only five years ago, the firm has come to be universally respected by lawyers, judges, and clients and it continues to play a pivotal role in maintaining democratic values in our civil society. I am eager to get started and look forward to working together with such an outstanding team of attorneys.”

Kaplan Hecker & Fink founding partner Roberta (“Robbie”) Kaplan said: “We are beyond thrilled to be able to welcome Professor Tribe to our firm. Not only does he share our commitment to tackling the most pressing challenges our country faces, but no lawyer is more respected by the bar or by sophisticated clients in the commercial and public interest space. It is hard to imagine a greater honor for our relatively young law firm than to have someone like Larry join us as of counsel. As the lawyer who litigated U.S. v. Windsor, I take great pride in having as a colleague someone who helped pave the groundwork for today’s recognition of the equal dignity of LGBTQ Americans.”

Kaplan Hecker & Fink managing partner Julie Fink said: “Larry is a titan of the bar, not to mention an exceptional legal scholar and trusted advisor. We are so fortunate to have such an accomplished individual join the firm and bring his breadth of experience to our work.”

Kaplan Hecker & Fink partner Sean Hecker added: “The addition of Larry to the firm could not come at a better time for our team, as we tackle some of today’s most high-profile and consequential legal and constitutional issues. His immeasurable knowledge of the law is unmatched, and I can’t wait to start working with him.”

In addition to his many independently published works, Tribe has co-authored two books with Kaplan Hecker & Fink partner Joshua Matz: Uncertain Justice: The Roberts Court and the Constitution (2014) and To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment (2018). In 2021, Matz published an essay in the University of Chicago Law Review celebrating Tribe’s historic contributions to the cause of LGBTQ equality (entitled “Tribe’s Trajectory & LGBTQ Rights”).

Tribe graduated summa cum laude in Mathematics from Harvard College, where he was recognized as the National Science Foundation Fellow and Woodrow Wilson Fellow and received the Detur Prize. Tribe then graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he received the Joseph Beale Prize. Following law school, Tribe clerked for Justice Potter Stewart at the United States Supreme Court, as well as for Justice Mathew O. Tobriner at the California Supreme Court. Before joining the faculty at Harvard Law School, Tribe spent a year at the National Academy of Sciences, where he wrote a report that led to the creation of a congressional office parallel to the President’s Office of Science and Technology. Among other honors in the course of his subsequent career in academia and private practice, Tribe has been elected to the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Science, co-founded the American Constitution Society, and received eleven honorary degrees (including from Hebrew University and the Government of Mexico).

See coverage from Law360Reuters, and The American Lawyer.