A partner in the Litigation Department, Roberta (Robbie) Kaplan has been described as a “litigation superstar,” a “powerhouse corporate litigator” and a “pressure junkie” who “thrives on looking at the big picture” whether “in the gay-marriage legal fight or high-profile corporate scandals.” Commenting on a recent oral argument by Robbie at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, one legal expert noted that “Ms. Kaplan deserves special recognition for her argument at the hearing. An accomplished attorney long before she came to represent Edith Windsor, Ms. Kaplan offered concise, smart and well-reasoned responses to the judge’s questions.”
This year, Robbie will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Law Journal. She has also been selected as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers” in the United States as well as a 2013 “Litigator of the Year” by The American Lawyer, the 2013 “Lawyer of the Year” by Above The Law and the 2014 “Most Innovative Lawyer of The Year” by The Financial Times. In choosing Robbie for this honor, The Financial Times noted that “The 10 most innovative individuals in the North American legal sector are once again an impressive group, as they have been in the four-year history of the US Innovative Lawyers report. But the judges had little trouble picking just one of them to win the award for most innovative individual – itself an innovation for the report this year. Robbie Kaplan has been involved in some of the most important legal developments of recent years.”
Robbie has extensive experience representing a diverse group of clients such as JP Morgan Chase, Fitch Ratings, Columbia University, the Minnesota Vikings, Airbnb, and Handy in complex, high-profile matters. She has been active, for example, in matters involving stock analyst's recommendations, market timing in mutual funds, reinsurance transactions, and structured finance transactions. During the period from 2007 through the most recent financial crisis,
Robbie represented Fitch Ratings in dozens of regulatory investigations and civil litigations in both state and federal court relating to Fitch's credit ratings of RMBS, CDO, and municipal bond transactions. As a result, Robbie has developed an expertise dealing with the complex interplay between regulatory investigations, and the onslaught of civil lawsuits that often follow. Robbie currently serves as lead counsel for JP Morgan Chase in a multi-billion dollar lender liability proceeding arising out of the bankruptcy of Thornburg Mortgage, where she also acts as "coordinating counsel" for the syndicate of five majorlending institutions. Recently, she succeeded in obtaining dismissal of 22 of the original 31 claims in that case.
Robbie has also represented a number of companies in the "sharing economy." Robbie won a victory for Hailo when a New Yorkstate court vacated a temporary restraining order that halted implementation of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission's taxi e-hail pilot program. On behalf of her client Airbnb, she succeeded in quashing a subpoena from the New York Attorney General seeking vast amounts of Airbnb's user data. Robbie currently represents Handy in litigation involving the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Robbie recently represented the Minnesota Vikings in connection with its settlement with former NFL punter, Chris Kluwe. She is currently representing Columbia University in Title IX litigation in the Southern District of New York involving its former students Emma Sulkowicz and Paul Nungesser.
Robbie successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of her client Edith Windsor in United States v. Windsor, the landmark Supreme Court case. In Windsor, the nation's highest court ruled that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the U.S. Constitution by barring legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the wide-ranging benefits of marriage conferred under federal law.
The consequences of the Windsor decision have been both rapid and profound. Dozens of courts throughout the United States have explicitly relied on Windsor to extend equal rights to gay people under the law. Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School has observed that he cannot "think of any Supreme Court decision in history that has ever created so rapid and broad a lower-court groundswell in a single direction as Windsor." That consensus now includes the Supreme Court, which in Obersefell v. Hodges, held that gay couples have an equal protection and due process right to marry in all fifty states. Since Windsor, Robbie successfully won a case seeking marriage equality in the State of Mississippi and has filed a case challenging Mississippi's gay adoption ban. Although she has been described as a "new hero to the gay rights movement," Robbie has credited her friends and family "for helping her get through the 'out-of-body experience' and historic, high-stress litigation work for which she is noted.
Robbie is the author of the book Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA to be published by W.W. Norton in October 2015. Former United States President Bill Clinton has explained that "United States v. Windsor was a landmark ruling and the case's architect, Roberta Kaplan, emerged as a true American hero. Then Comes Marriage is a riveting account of a watershed moment in our history, and the strategy, ingenuity, and humanity that made it happen."
Robbie has also published numerous articles on a variety of legal topics, including "Investigating the Case" in Commercial Litigation in New York State Courts, and "Interplay Between Commercial Litigation and Criminal Proceedings" in Commercial Litigation in the Federal Circuit Courts. She recently published the articles "Regulation and the Sharing Economy" in the New York Law Journal and "Airbnb: A Case Study in Occupancy" in the University of Chicago Law Review.
While serving as a senior law clerk to then Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, Robbie assisted Judge Kaye in connection with State Courts at the Dawn of a New Century: Common Law Courts Reading Statutes and Constitutions, 70 NYU L Rev 1 35 (April 1995). Robbie also clerked for Judge Mark L. Wolf of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Robbie's achievements have been honored by many, including the American Constitution Society, LOGO/MTV, the New York Women's Foundation, the Family Equality Council, the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee, Stanford Law School, Columbia Law School, and the New York County Lawyers' Association. She has received honorary doctorates from the Johns Hopkins University and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Robbie currently serves as the co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Gay Men's Health Crisis and is on the Board of Eye to Eye, whose mission is to develop a coalition of mentoring programs for students with learning differences. Robbie serves as a subcommittee chair on Chief Judge Lippman's Commercial Division Advisory Council. She also is an adjunct professor of law at Columbia Law School, where she teaches a course on Advanced Civil Procedure.