The New York State Bar Association honored Roberta A. “Robbie” Kaplan with its highest honor, the Gold Medal Award, on January 27 during its Annual Meeting in New York City.
Kaplan is best known for representing Edith Windsor before the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor (2013), which held that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the constitution by barring the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages and denying these couples wide-ranging benefits of marriage.
“Robbie’s life has not been the same since U.S. v. Windsor, but this outcome builds on an extraordinary career by an extraordinary individual,” said State Bar Association President Sharon Stern Gerstman. “Beyond her legal skills, Robbie always keeps the focus on the best interests of the clients, painting the picture of the clients as real people and illustrating how their lives are affected by the legal matters at hand. Further, she emphasizes the critical importance of equality in the profession and in the justice system.”
Last year, Kaplan founded Kaplan & Company—a new law firm that handles high-stakes commercial litigation alongside groundbreaking public interest cases. The firm represents a diverse group of clients including T-Mobile and Airbnb in complex matters and at the same time – along with the new nonprofit Integrity First for America – has sued two dozen neo-Nazis and white supremacists responsible for violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last August.
Recently, Kaplan, along with Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff Tina Tchen, helped launch #TimesUp, a new nonprofit that will provide legal representation to women who have experienced sexual violence, abuse or harassment. Prior to starting her own firm, Kaplan spent 25 years as a litigator at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
The Gold Medal is awarded each year to a lawyer whose qualifications include outstanding legal accomplishments, an active interest in and positive influence upon the profession, and constructive contributions in civic and community matters.
Past winners of the State Bar’s Gold Medal include U.S. Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Thurgood Marshall, William Brennan, Jr. and Sandra Day O’Connor; U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; former New York state chief judge Judith S. Kaye; former New York City prosecutor Robert Morgenthau, and Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, co-founders of The Innocence Project.
About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
Contact: Christian Nolan