Robins Kaplan LLP Celebrates 85 Years

May 2023

Robins Kaplan LLP celebrates its 85th anniversary this year, continuing to honor the premise on which it was created – to provide equal access to justice to all.

Robins Kaplan has never been a law firm that walked in the path well-trod by so many firms. What started as a two-person partnership in Minneapolis in 1938 has grown to a national powerhouse litigation firm with seven offices across the United States. The fight for access for everyone, for a place at the table for all, became part of the firm’s DNA and is the foundation of who we are today.

“As I look back on our history of taking on challenging cases, delivering life-changing results through our pro bono work, and training multiple generations of great trial lawyers, I am proud to say we have continued to honor our founders’ mission to provide equal access to justice for all,” said Ronald Schutz, Chair of the Executive Board.

Securing Justice

The firm has historically taken on cases cast aside as unwinnable and unprofitable by more traditional firms. That willingness to take risks, to challenge convention, remains a fundamental part of the firm’s culture today. The firm’s trial lawyers are involved in legal issues of lasting civic importance, and they have secured tens of billions of dollars for their clients over the years.

A sampling of some of the firm’s most recent notable cases include:

  • Kelley v. BMO Harris Bank, N.A.: In November 2022, following a four-week trial, a Minnesota jury awarded approximately $564 million in damages to Robins Kaplan client Douglas A. Kelley in his capacity as trustee for the BMO Litigation Trust. It is the largest jury award in Minnesota history.
  • In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation: Serving as co-lead counsel, obtained a $5.6 billion settlement on behalf of U.S. merchants in a case against Visa, Mastercard, and their member banks for allegedly charging supra-competitive fees on card transactions. It is the largest settlement of a private antitrust action in the 130-year history of the Sherman Act.
  • State of Minnesota v. JUUL Labs, Inc.: Partnering with the Minnesota Attorney General and co-counsel Zimmerman Reed, obtained a historic settlement against JUUL and Altria for deceptively marketing e-cigarettes to youth. This is the second time that the firm has taken on big tobacco and won.
  • Pope v. Chauvin, et al. and Code v. Chauvin, et al.: On behalf of its clients John Pope and Zoya Code, secured two settlements, totaling $8,875,000, with the City of Minneapolis. In the plaintiffs’ lawsuits against the City, former police officer Derek Chauvin, and several additional Minneapolis Police Department officers, the complaints alleged police misconduct, use of excessive force, and racial discrimination from incidents dating back to 2017. 
  • National Prescription Opiate Litigation: The firm represents 28 Tribal Nations in the national opioid litigation. The value of settlement and bankruptcy claims by Tribes against major opioid manufactures, distributors, and chain pharmacies now exceeds $1 billion. 

Commitment to Pro Bono

Robins Kaplan’s dedication to service is also reflected in the firm’s history of pro bono representation. Since 2008, 5% of total attorney billable time has been contributed to pro bono work, and in 2022 alone, attorneys devoted more than 16,000 hours to pro bono representation. The firm’s largest pro bono effort to date recovered more than $77 million for I-35W bridge collapse survivors and those who lost loved ones; the firm’s attorneys and staff devoted more than 20,000 pro bono hours to the case during a period of more than three years.

More recently, our pro bono efforts have included an ongoing name change clinic for transgender individuals in partnership with OutFront Minnesota. In these free legal advice clinics, volunteer attorneys walk clients through the name change process and help them draft legal forms to start the name change process. 

Dedication to Professional Development

The firm continues to develop the next generation of world-class trial attorneys, which is shown most recently with the launch of Robins Kaplan Academy. Building upon the firm’s history of providing exceptional training with its First Chair Training Program, Robins Kaplan Academy includes programming and recommendations from the firm’s Professional Development, Business Development, Research and Business Intelligence, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Pricing and Legal Project Management, and Financial Analytics teams. The holistic program equips attorneys with essential tools to raise their market prominence, leverage networks to develop business, and expand their skills in multiple areas to best serve clients’ needs.

Ronald J. Schutz


Chair of Executive Board

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