Keynote Speaker: Roberta Kaplan ’91
Roberta (Robbie) Kaplan, a partner in the Litigation Department of Paul, Weiss LLP, has been described as a “powerhouse corporate litigator” and “pressure junkie” who “thrives on looking at the big picture” whether “in the gay-marriage legal fight or high-profile corporate scandals.” Kaplan has been selected as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers” and one of the top “40 Under 40” lawyers in the United States, as well as a 2013 Litigator of the Year by The American Lawyer and 2013 “Lawyer of the Year” by Above The Law.
Kaplan successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Edith Windsor in the landmark case of United States v. Windsor. In Windsor, the nation’s highest court issued a landmark ruling 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. At least 18 courts throughout the United States, including courts in New Jersey, Ohio, New Mexico, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia, have relied explicitly on Windsor to extend rights to gay people.
Ariel Levy chronicled Kaplan’s representation of Edie Windsor in her piece in the September 30, 2013, issue of The New Yorker entitled “A Perfect Wife.” Kaplan was also recently profiled in a documentary produced by the PBS “MAKERS” series.
Kaplan is a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School and received the 2011 Distinguished Alumna Award at Columbia Law Women’s Association 31st Annual Myra Bradwell Dinner. Kaplan’s work has been honored by many other organizations, including the National Organization for Women, the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Foundation, the American Constitution Society, Stanford Law School, and the Family Equality Council. She is to receive an honorary doctorate this year from Johns Hopkins University. However, Kaplan is probably most proud of the fact that a character was named after her in Terrence McNally’s latest Broadway production, “Mothers and Sons.”