Distinguished Alumni Honored at Annual Luncheon
In February, alumni, faculty, trustees, and guests gathered at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York for the Law School’s annual Alumni Association luncheon. 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, were honored as Alumni of the Year. Andrew Rausa ’13, lead advertising and privacy counsel for Facebook, was recognized with the Rising Star award.
At the awards ceremony, Dean Nick 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, noting his long-standing generous support of the Law School.
In his remarks, Grubman paid tribute to Professor Joe Crea ’47, crediting him for saving Grubman’s 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 the 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 recalls. “He looked at me and said: ‘I like that. I’m going to hire you for $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.”
“To me, the legal education at Brooklyn Law School was transformational and empowering,” said Cao, who was introduced by Professor Michael Gerber. Acknowledging 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 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; it 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 $40 billion Silk Road Fund, which is implementing the Belt and Road Initiative aimed at spearheading global economic development. Cao was named one of China’s top GCs in the last two years by Asian Legal Business magazine.
Rausa, this year’s Rising Star, was introduced by Professor Jonathan Askin. Citing the urgent issues facing social media, including Facebook being implicated as a tool used to facilitate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Rausa said he was confident his experience at Brooklyn Law School prepared him to deal successfully with those challenges.
“My time at Brooklyn Law School armed me with not only the legal skills to tackle these issues, but also the mind-set that truly good attorneys don’t just stay within their siloed discipline and handle the immediate issue at hand,” he said, mentioning the valuable experience he received at Business Boot Camp and in the BLIP Clinic directed by Askin. “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.”
Alumni Association President Michael Grohman ’83, a partner at Duane Morris, reported that alumni donor 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.”