Harvey J. Wolkoff ’75

Major League

By Joy Y. Wang

Summer 2011

Harvey J. Wolkoff ’75 maintains what he calls “a shrine to the Yankees” in his office. Similar setups likely surround the desks of law firm partners throughout Manhattan. However, Wolkoff’s office at Ropes & Gray overlooks Boston’s Charles River and Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, the Yankees’ long-standing rival. “I don’t know if [being a Yankees fan in Boston] takes dedication or being incredibly thick skinned,” the Long Island native admits with a chuckle.

Wolkoff specializes in complex litigation at Ropes & Gray and adds that feeling impervious to outside pressure also serves him well in the courtroom. “It helps as a litigator to be very focused and not be bothered by the slings and arrows of your opponent,” Wolkoff says. “Our job is to take the complex and make it simple. There’s an art to that.”

One of Wolkoff’s most high-profile clients is Ameriprise Financial, which he represented in a headline-making 2008 suit against a money market fund. He successfully argued that the Reserve Fund tipped off investors to losses, causing a run that “broke the buck” when the net asset value dropped below $1. Ultimately, Wolkoff succeeded in obtaining 99 cents on the dollar for Ameriprise. 

Outside the courtroom, Wolkoff celebrated his son’s graduation from Columbia Law School recently and is not shy about sharing fond memories of his alma mater. “The quality of the professors and the students just absolutely blew me away,” he says. “I thought to myself at the time, ‘Now I’m not only in the major leagues, but also in the all-star game.’”