Joshua Matz, a constitutional lawyer who worked on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during President Donald Trump’s impeachment, is returning to Kaplan Hecker & Fink to launch a Washington office for the nearly 3-year-old boutique law firm.
Matz joined the House Judiciary Committee’s work as a counsel on impeachment in October and worked through the Senate trial. Alongside Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, Matz in 2018 co-authored “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.”
Matz, a Harvard Law graduate and former clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, will be the eighth partner at New York-based Kaplan Hecker, where he worked as counsel prior to his government stint.
“The firm is trying to do something quite different than any other firm out there is doing,” Matz said in an interview. “This is a firm with a first-rate civil rights impact litigation practice but that also provides top-flight services to white collar and civil litigation clients, particularly in the technology sectors. And what we’ve discovered is that this model works in a remarkable way.”
Matz this week was among dozens of former clerks of Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt who signed a letter supporting an attorney who told Congress that the judge sexually harassed her during her clerkship. Matz declined to comment on the letter.
The boutique firm’s co-founder Roberta Kaplan is a former Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison partner who co-founded the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. Kaplan Hecker made news in January by hiring lawyer Marshall Miller from Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, a prestigious firm that rarely sees departures.
Matz said it was difficult to draw conclusions on whether Trump’s trial would have a lasting impact on the impeachment process. His book concluded that high levels of partisanship in politics could short-circuit even “urgent and meritorious” impeachments, he said.
“I took no pleasure in watching in real time as that lesson was confirmed by the Senate in the case of president Trump,” he said.
“The president seems to have drawn the lesson that he is free to continue abusing his power, which is one reason why I am so proud to rejoin a firm that has repeatedly sought to enforce the principle that not even the president is above the law,” Matz added. “I hope this impeachment will come to be seen as an aberration. Or at least the impeachment outcome in the Senate will come to be seen as an aberration.”
Kaplan said the firm would look to recruit more talented lawyers in Washington, but that the firm’s growth would be cautious, and limited to “the absolute best legal talent.”
“He is an incredibly creative lawyer,” Kaplan said of Matz, “and that is what we pride ourselves on being able to provide for our clients.”