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Attorney who beat Trump twice in court starts boutique firm


Roberta Kaplan, the veteran trial lawyer who represented New York writer E Jean Carroll in her landmark lawsuits against Donald Trump, is leaving the firm she founded seven years ago to start a new outfit with a trio of close friends.
The litigator is departing Kaplan Hecker & Fink to start a boutique that will focus on civil litigation, internal corporate investigations and strategic advisory, she said Wednesday in a statement.Tim Martin, another Kaplan Hecker & Fink partner, is leaving with her. The new firm will be called Kaplan Martin.
Kaplan Hecker & Fink’s unexpected growth to more than 100 lawyers and staff nudged Kaplan to make a change, she said, just three years after she and her colleagues celebrated the opening of an expanded office at the Empire State Building. She also said she wants to focus less on white collar matters, now a focus at her old firm.
“It’s really that the firm grew rapidly, which is great, but it grew in size and complexity beyond what I had in mind and I wanted to get back to something nimbler,” Kaplan said in an interview.
Kaplan, who won a landmark Supreme Court victory for same-sex couples in 2013, rose to further prominence through Carroll’s lawsuits against Trump. Carroll in 2019 went public with her claim that Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s, and then sued him for defamation after he called her a liar. Then she sued Trump for sexual abuse when New York temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on such claims.
Kaplan won both cases. A federal jury in Manhattan found Trump liable for sexual abuse and ordered him to pay Carroll $5 million. Another New York jury found Trump liable for defamation and awarded Carroll $83.3 million. Trump has appealed both verdicts.
Kaplan’s departure had been in discussions at the firm for many months, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The move will test Kaplan’s ability to bring her clients with her — again. She said all of her clients, with one exception, followed her when she left Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, the large firm where she worked for 25 years, to co-found Kaplan Hecker & Fink in 2017.
“Robbie’s contributions to the firm have been immeasurable,” Kaplan Hecker & Fink said in a statement. “We know Robbie will continue to change the world from her new perch and look forward to continuing to work together.”
Along with Kaplan and Martin, the firm’s two other founding partners are Steven M. Cohen and Mitra Hormozi, both of whom are former federal prosecutors with close ties to Andrew Cuomo, the ex-New York governor who left office under a cloud of sexual harassment claims.
Cohen and Martin both served as general counsel at Ronald Perelman’s investment vehicle MacAndrew & Forbes Holdings and worked closely together while at the firm. Hormozi was general counsel at Revlon Inc., where MacAndrew & Forbes was the largest shareholder before the cosmetic company’s 2022 bankruptcy. She made more than $752,400 as a director last year at Apollo Global Management Inc.
Cohen was secretary to Cuomo when he was governor and served as counselor and chief of staff to when Cuomo was the state’s attorney general. Cuomo appointed Hormozi in 2011 to chair the Commission on Public Integrity, which looked into ethics violations by public officials and lobbyists.
Kaplan’s own ties to Cuomo came back to bite her during the former governor’s harassment scandal. She stepped down from Time’s Up, a group supporting victims of sexual harassment, in 2021 after a state investigation revealed her role in helping Cuomo fight off harassment allegations, which he continues to deny.
In addition to her suits against the former president, she sued a group of White supremacists who rioted in Charlottesville, Virginia, a case she won at trial. She represented the Center for Countering Digital Hate after the nonprofit was sued by Elon Musk’s X Corp. over a report saying the social media platform once known as Twitter “is overwhelmed with harmful content.” Kaplan won dismissal of the case. Musk has appealed.
Not all of Kaplan’s suits against Trump have paid off. In 2018, she sued Trump, his company and three of his adult children on behalf of a small group of investors who claimed he lied in his pitches on The Apprentice for a multi-level marketing company. A judge denied Kaplan’s request for class-action status and threw out claims that kept the case in federal court.
In May, Columbia University hired Kaplan to defend it in a Jewish student’s lawsuit over the school’s handling of pro-Palestine protests on campus. Columbia in June agreed to appoint a liaison over its Public Safety Escort Program through the end of the year as part of a settlement of the proposed class action.
Cohen said he will remain a member of Blue Raven, a legal advisory services firm he launched in 2020 after leaving MacAndrews. It will be integrated into the firm as a separate arm best suited for consulting independent directors of public companies.

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