Distinguished Alumni Honored at Annual Luncheon
Brooklyn Law School alumni, faculty, trustees, and guests gathered at the Mandarin Oriental, New York, on Feb. 2 for the annual Alumni Association Luncheon. Honored as Alumni of the Year were Allen J. Grubman '67, one of the world’s most powerful entertainment lawyers and founder of Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks; and Hannah Cao '03, general counsel for China's Silk Road Fund, who has been recognized as one of China’s top general counsels. Andrew Rausa '13, lead advertising and privacy counsel for Facebook, was recognized with the Rising Star award.
"Each of these honorees is a shining example of the best of Brooklyn Law School,” Dean Nick Allard said in his opening remarks. “They are world-class lawyers who are tremendous leaders in their respective fields, widely admired for their expertise and achievements, and advancing the Law School's purpose of using the power of law to make a positive difference."
At the awards ceremony, Allard introduced Grubman, noting that “his client roster is a nearly encyclopedic collection of A-List celebrities from the music world, film, sports, media, and culture,” including Robert DeNiro, Lebron James, Tommy Hilfiger, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, and Martha Stewart.
“While Allen clearly has ‘made it,’ he has never forgotten his roots at Brooklyn Law,” Allard said. “For 50 years Allen has continuously been engaged with this Law School, making a significant impact on nearly every aspect of the Law School’s operations, from infrastructure to scholarships and programming. Allen, we are eternally grateful for your generosity.”
In his remarks, Grubman paid tribute to Professor Joe Crea ’47, crediting him for saving his law school career and putting him on the path to success. “I wouldn’t be here—I don’t know where I would be—if not for Brooklyn Law School and Joe Crea,” he said, telling the story of how Crea helped him to pass—just barely—his Torts class, which enabled him to stay in law school and eventually graduate. Grubman also recounted how he got his start in entertainment business, working in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency and as a page at CBS during law school. After graduation, he got a list of all the entertainment firms in New York and went door to door looking for a job until he closed his “first deal” with an attorney named Walter Hofer.
“I said to him: ‘My family doesn’t have much money. How much money will I have to pay you to allow me to work for you?’” Grubman recalled. “He looked at me and said: ‘I like that. I’m going to hire you for a $125 a week.’ And that’s where my career started.”
In an emotional closing, Grubman again expressed his gratitude to Brooklyn Law School: “I am deeply indebted to this law school,” he said, “and will be for the rest of my life.”
Professor Michael Gerber introduced Cao, remarking on her impressive career in the law in the United States and China.
“Hannah has managed to do—and do well—in multiple languages what I can barely do in one,” citing her success at Brooklyn Law School and her career that has taken her from major law firms in the United States to law firms in China, and then to the Silk Road Fund where she serves as general counsel to China’s new $40 billion fund that invests in infrastructure projects in developing countries in Central and South Asia. Cao was named by Asian Legal Business magazine as one of China’s top GCs in the last two years.
“To me, the legal education at Brooklyn Law School was transformational and empowering,” Cao said, recognizing past and present faculty members in addition to Gerber who had a profound influence on her, including Professors Roberta Karmel, Stacy Caplow, Neil Cohen, Joel Gora, Arthur Pinto, and the Hon. Claire Kelly ’93, judge of the U.S. Court of International Trade and a member of the Board of Trustees.
“This award is not just a recognition of my efforts, but also reflects the school’s strong international vision” she said. “It is a celebration of all our alumni’s commitment to making this world a better place.”
Cao also described her work with the Silk Road Fund to implement the Belt and Road Initiative, which is aimed at spearheading global economic development.
“My job as general counsel of Silk Road Fund is exciting,” she said. “My team and I work on some of the most meaningful projects—putting into place critical infrastructures in underdeveloped locations and helping to de-bottleneck local economies. It is satisfying to see that my legal training is making a tangible impact on people’s lives around the world. I am proud to be a lawyer and greatly appreciate the school for making me a lawyer and honoring me today.”
This year’s Rising Star, Andrew “Drew” Rausa, was introduced by Professor Jonathan Askin. “Drew was and is among the most interesting, thoughtful, original, and inspired students, lawyers, and people with whom it’s been my honor to work and to know,” Askin said. “Drew is the epitome of what it means to be a Brooklyn-trained, world-class, next-generation attorney—a thoughtful advisor to, and collaborator with, the ventures that are shaping society and the new and emerging world.”
Rausa spoke of the urgent issues facing the social media giant, including Facebook being implicated as a tool used to facilitate Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, saying he was confident his experience at Brooklyn Law School prepared him to deal successfully with those challenges within a rapidly changing legal profession.
“I’m not concerned because the skills that I learned at Brooklyn Law have equipped me to do just that,” he said, mentioning the valuable experience he received as part of the inaugural Business Boot Camp and the BLIP Clinic directed by Askin. “At Facebook, I have the duty and privilege to counsel on issues that are shaping our society. Issues like the future of journalism, free speech, net neutrality, and online privacy. My time at BLS not only armed me with the legal skills to tackle these issues, but also the mindset that truly good attorneys don’t just stay within their siloed discipline and handle the immediate issue at hand. Truly good attorneys learn what is necessary to identify and address the issues that may come a few weeks, months, or years down the road. I am thankful to be recognized by the institution that enabled me to do this.”
Alumni Association President Michael Grohman ‘83, a partner at Duane Morris LLP, praised his fellow graduates’ dedication to the Law School, reporting that alumni participation is currently higher than it has been in at least five years, with a record number of graduates donating to the Annual Fund in the last year.
“I hope we can count on you to join us in our support of Brooklyn Law School.” he said. “And please encourage your friends and classmates to do the same.”