TNJ Law issue 2011 Stephen C. RobinsonStephen C. Robinson, Esq.
Partner
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom L.L.P.

From his Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Cornell University for a bachelor’s degree and a law degree; to a research fellowship at Yale Law School; to a judgeship; then to partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom L.L.P., Stephen C. Robinson’s 26-year career in law followed a road less traveled by most attorneys. “I’ve had a lot of jobs and I’ve learned that life is about what’s working for you right now. I always try to do what moves me,” he says.

What moved him were three years with the FBI as principal deputy general counsel and special assistant to the director; another three years as U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, a position to which he was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1998; and seven years on the bench as a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, to which he was appointed in 2003 by President George W. Bush.

But nothing has moved him more than his role as a father, he says. Following his wife’s death in 2001, Judge Robinson became a single parent, drastically changing the trajectory of his life. He explains, “I needed a job that would allow me to have control over my time. It was an incredible honor to be a judge, but one of the significant factors was that it was a career that allowed me to be active in my daughter’s life.”

Last fall — his daughter on her own path in pre-medical studies at Stanford University — Robinson left his judgeship to join Skadden as a partner, handling litigation, government enforcement and white-collar crime. He muses about making way for a new generation of lawyers. “I’m excited to look at ways to make positions within the law more diverse, not only for African-Americans, but also for Asians, Latinos, gays and lesbians and others, on both corporate and international levels,” he says.     

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