Expanded Bio
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Roberta A. Kaplan

Partner

Tel: 212-373-3086
Fax: 212-492-0086
rkaplan@paulweiss.com

New York
1285 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10019-6064

A partner in the Paul, Weiss 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.” The ABA Journal has explained that Robbie “could be described as a specialist in emerging law. She litigates cases that shape the legal structure within which Americans live, love, work and hail cabs. Describing a 2015 oral argument at the Fifth Circuit, one legal commentator noted that Robbie “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.”

In addition to receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Law Journal, Robbie has also been selected by The National Law Journal as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers” in the United States, as “Litigator of the Year” by The American Lawyer, as “Lawyer of the Year” by Above the Law, and as the “Most Innovative Lawyer of The Year” by The Financial Times. The Financial Times noted that “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.”

Experience

Robbie has extensive experience representing a diverse group of clients such as JP Morgan Chase, Fitch Ratings, Columbia University, the Minnesota Vikings and Airbnb 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 acts as "coordinating counsel" for the syndicate of five major lending institutions. Recently, she succeeded in obtaining dismissal of 22 of the original 31 claims in that case.

Robbie has represented a number of technology companies in the "sharing economy." Robbie won a victory for Hailo when a New York state 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 Technologies, Inc. in litigation involving the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Robbie is currently representing Columbia University in litigation involving its former students Emma Sulkowicz and Paul Nungesser.  Mr. Nungesser's lawsuit, filed in April 2015, arises from a series of events beginning with a rape accusation by fellow former undergraduate Ms. Sulkowicz. Following an investigation and hearing, the university found Mr. Nungesser not responsible for sexual assault. In response to this finding, Ms. Sulkowicz began a performance art project entitled "Mattress Performance (Carry that Weight)," in which she carried a mattress around campus.  In his lawsuit, Mr. Nungesser alleged that, by permitting Ms. Sulkowicz to carry out her art project and by awarding her academic credit for doing so, the university violated his rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as well as various state laws.  The defendants' motion to dismiss argued that the conduct alleged in Mr. Nungesser's complaint did not state a Title IX violation, as Ms. Sulkowicz's art project and other public statements were directed at Mr. Nungesser's alleged conduct, rather than his status as a male.  On March 11, 2016, Judge Gregory Woods of the Southern District of New York agreed, dismissing the complaint with leave to replead certain claims and noting that accepting Mr. Nungesser's argument "would lead to the conclusion that those who commit, or are accused of committing, sexual assault are a protected class under Title IX. The statute does not permit that result."  Robbie also represented the Minnesota Vikings in connection with its settlement with former NFL punter, Chris Kluwe.

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 Obergefell 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 (W.W. Norton), which was chosen by the L.A. Times as one of the top 10 books of 2015 by Ms. Magazine as one of the top feminist books of 2015, and by Tony Mauro of The National Law Journal as one of the top 10 books about the Supreme Court of 2015. President Bill Clinton has noted 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." For more information, go to www.robbiekaplan.com.

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 of the State of New York 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 National Council of Jewish Women, the New York Women's Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign, the Family Equality Council, Stanford Law School, Columbia Law School, and the New York County Lawyers' Association. She has received honorary doctorates from 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 (GMHC) and is on the Board of Eye to Eye, whose mission is to develop mentoring programs for students with learning differences. Robbie serves as a subcommittee chair of New York's Commercial Division Advisory Council. She also is an adjunct professor of law at Columbia Law School, where she teaches a seminar on Advanced Civil Procedure.

 

Practices
Internal Investigations
International Arbitration
Securities Litigation
White Collar & Regulatory Defense
Pro Bono

Education

J.D., Columbia Law School, 1991


A.B., Harvard University, 1988

magna cum laude; Phi Beta Kappa
Clerkships

Hon. Judith S. Kaye, New York Court of Appeals

Hon. Mark L. Wolf, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts

Bar Admissions

New York
Massachusetts

Related Resources

Sep 02, 2016 | News

New York Court Expands Definition of Parenthood and Overrules 25-Year Precedent in Case Involving Children of Same-Sex Couple

Aug 08, 2016 | Publications

Southern District of New York Decision Suggests Increasing Scrutiny of Electronic Agreements

Aug 01, 2016 | News

District Court Denies Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction of Mississippi Anti-Gay Law HB 1523

Jul 19, 2016 | Publications

Robbie Kaplan Appointed to Judicial Task Force on the NYS Constitution

Jun 30, 2016 | News

District Court Grants Preliminary Injunction of Mississippi Anti-Gay Law HB

Jun 28, 2016 | Publications

A Guide to the Supreme Court’s Notable Decisions this Term—and Cases to Watch Next Term

Jun 22, 2016 | Publications

New York Court of Appeals Holds That Common Interest Doctrine Only Applies Where Pending or Reasonably Anticipated Litigation Involved

Jun 01, 2016 | News

Slate Publishes Article Highlighting Paul, Weiss's Advocacy on Behalf of LGBTQ Rights in Mississippi

May 11, 2016 | News

Campaign for Southern Equality Moves to Reopen Marriage Case to Address Mississippi’s New “Religious Freedom” Statute

May 02, 2016 | News

Mississippi Declines to Appeal Decision Declaring Gay Adoption Ban Unconstitutional

Mar 31, 2016 | News

Married Lesbian Couples Granted Preliminary Injunction in Mississippi Adoption Case

Mar 25, 2016 | Publications

The U.S. Supreme Court Issues Decision Allowing Use of Statistical Sampling and Representative Evidence by Class Action Plaintiffs in Tyson Foods

Mar 24, 2016 | Publications

First Circuit Interprets Communications Decency Act Expansively, Holding That Lawsuit Alleging That Website Facilitated Sex Trafficking Was Properly Dismissed

Mar 11, 2016 | News

Court Grants Columbia University Motion to Dismiss Title IX Lawsuit

Dec 22, 2015 | Publications

15-Year-Old Publishes Account of His Parents’ Challenge to Mississippi Adoption Ban

Oct 15, 2015 | Publications

New York Commercial Division Adopts Rule on Entity Depositions

Sep 28, 2015 | News

Wyoming State Court Dismisses Claims Against Fitch Ratings

Aug 27, 2015 | News

Pro Bono Client Obtains Favorable Decisions in Prisoner's Rights Case

Aug 11, 2015 | News

Pro Bono Clients Challenge Mississippi's Gay Adoption Ban

Jul 09, 2015 | News

Paul, Weiss Helps CSE Achieve Full Marriage Equality in Mississippi

Mar 11, 2015 | Publications

Robbie Kaplan and Michael Nadler Co-Author Article on Airbnb in University of Chicago Law Review

Mar 12, 2015 | Events

Roberta Kaplan to Speak About DOMA at the Jewish Theological Seminary

Feb 13, 2015 | Publications

Robbie Kaplan and Jacob Hupart Co-Author Article in Albany Law Review

Jan 23, 2015 | Publications

New York Commercial Division Adopts Rule on Deposition Limits

Jan 05, 2015 | News

The New Yorker and USA Today Discuss Paul, Weiss Work on Marriage Equality in Mississippi Since Windsor

Nov 26, 2014 | News

Mississippi Judge Strikes Down State Laws Banning Same-Sex Marriages

Oct 22, 2014 | News

Paul, Weiss Obtains Dismissal of Derivative Lawsuits Against Morgan Stanley and Van Kampen

Oct 16, 2014 | Publications

New York Commercial Division Adopts New Interrogatory and Privilege Log Rules, a Special Masters Pilot Program, and a Rule Requiring Staggered Court Appearances

Oct 09, 2014 | Publications

Mandatory Mediation and Settlement-Related Disclosure Adopted for New York Commercial Division to Encourage Early Settlement

Jul 18, 2014 | Publications

Regulation and the Sharing Economy

Jul 09, 2014 | Publications

Accelerated Adjudication and New Assignment Procedures Adopted for New York Commercial Division

May 13, 2014 | News

Paul, Weiss Achieves Victory for Airbnb

Mar 27, 2014 | Events

MAKERS Releases Documentary on One Year Anniversary of United States v. Windsor

Mar 19, 2014 | Publications

Roberta Kaplan Publishes Article Concerning Home Rule Clause of New York Constitution

Mar 05, 2014 | Publications

The Review of Securities & Commodities Regulation

Oct 15, 2013 | Events

Roberta Kaplan Featured as a Guest Speaker at Women on Wall Street Conference

Dec 07, 2012 | News

U.S. Supreme Court Grants Certiorari in U.S. v. Windsor
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