Roberta Kaplan and Audrey Strauss received the 53rd annual George A. Katz Torch of Learning Award (TOL), presented by American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU) at Cipriani on May 18.
At the event, AFHU president Pamela Emmerich said: “These two brilliant women, whose careers are the stuff of which legends are made, are most deserving recipients of the Torch of Learning Award, named in memory of the late George Katz, founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. It honors outstanding lawyers who have made a significant impact in the legal profession and in the broader community. Both of our distinguished honorees meet that requirement in spades.”
Roberta (“Robbie”) Kaplan is the founding partner of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, which she founded to build what she calls a “new-fashioned, old-fashioned” law firm that combines a cutting-edge civil and criminal litigation practice with a groundbreaking commitment to using the courts to serve the public interest. To that end, she has been in the news recently for the successful representation of E. Jean Carroll. Before that, her victory in the landmark Windsor case helped pave the way for marriage equality in the United States. Robbie has taken on the white supremacists who attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., and co-founded the Times Up Legal Defense Fund.
Dahlia Lithwick, lawyer, New York Times bestselling author, journalist, and senior editor at Slate presented the award to Kaplan.
“The State of Israel is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis concerning the independence of its court system,” said Kaplan. “In our world today where democracy seems to be in danger in so many different places and in so many ways, I believe it is even more important for us to support institutions like the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that help to foster the foundations of Israeli democracy. I’m so honored to be receiving this award.”
Audrey Strauss, senior counsel of Fried Frank, represents clients in white-collar criminal defense and regulatory matters. Prior to rejoining Fried Frank in 2022, Audrey served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where she oversaw all criminal and civil cases brought on behalf of the United States. These include taking on Roy Cohn and the Gambino family.
Geoffrey S. Berman, partner of Fried Frank and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, presented the award to Strauss.
“It is a profound honor to receive this year’s Torch of Learning Award, along with my co-recipient Robbie Kaplan, joining the ranks of many distinguished past awardees,” said Strauss. “I am proud to continue to support American Friends of the Hebrew University and HU’s Faculty of Law in its efforts to educate and champion outstanding future global leaders and innovators, among other important work.”
Celebrating its 53rd year, the award raises awareness and important support for the Hebrew University Faculty of Law and the mission of its American Friends.