Robert (Bobby) Rudolph ‘05 says he “grew up in a family that always supported the Anti-Defamation League” (ADL). In middle school, he attended ADL events like Team Harmony, which featured speakers like former First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to help engage youth in the fight against hate of all forms. He didn’t know it at the time, but it would have a lasting impact on his career as a lawyer representing clients whose rights have been violated.
“I always felt aligned with ADL’s mission to stop the defamation of Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all,” Rudolph says. “At a basic level, the ADL’s goal is to create a world without hate. This is a very easy mission to get behind and support.”
It was a natural progression to join ADL’s Peer Training program when Rudolph arrived at Govs, where he was further inspired by mentors on campus. “Kathy Guy was instrumental in bringing the ADL’s Peer Training program to campus and making it as successful as it has been,” recalls Rudolph, who was a peer trainer and also participated in ADL’s Youth Congress. “She spent countless hours outside of the classroom helping students on campus facilitate the ADL’s programs and her commitment to the ADL had a significant impact on me.”
Rudolph relied on guidance from student advisor Bill Quigley P’04, ‘10 — whose “door was always open” — and dorm parent Janet Adams-Wall P’08— his “mother away from home” who at the time was director of college counseling. But it was the experiences in and out of the classroom that truly shaped his character.
“Govs pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, to get involved in groups and activities on campus, and to take advantage of everything the school had to offer,” says Rudolph, noting a range of activities such as Student Government Association, student-faculty Diversity Committee meetings, and serving as a senior dormitory proctor. “I learned to take risks, to give back to others, to be a leader, and to stand up for what was right instead of what was popular. Those lessons continue to be important in my life today.”
It’s no surprise that’s true, given that Rudolph went on to earn a juris doctor degree from Boston College Law School and pursued a career in the legal profession. He represents clients in litigation related to business, employment, and real estate/construction disputes. He routinely appears before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concerning claims of wrongful termination, discrimination, and harassment. In February 2021, he was named partner at Rudolph Friedmann LLP and works alongside his father and Govs Trustee Jim Rudolph ‘68, P’05, ‘12, and Jim’s classmate, partner Jay Worthen ‘68.
“Becoming a partner at Rudolph Friedmann was particularly special to me since I grew up around the office and have known many of the attorneys and staff since I was a child,” Rudolph says. He spent one high school summer as the firm’s “runner,” delivering documents for attorneys. On weekends during law school, he would often study in a conference room at the Boston office.
Rudolph says his work as a lawyer is different every day — and challenging. “In today’s world, I think one of the challenges of the legal profession is that there is no “closed” sign on the front of a law firm. Clients have issues 24/7 and want (sometimes need) advice immediately. I learned quickly that although a certain legal issue or lawsuit may seem rudimentary to me, for many clients being involved in litigation is unfamiliar territory, emotional and costly — both in time and dollars. As a result, I try my best to be available when clients need advice, whether late at night or during the weekend and to keep them constantly updated throughout the process.”
But with that comes reward. “I love helping clients navigate difficult legal issues, settle contentious litigation, or prevail in court, and most clients are extremely appreciative of the attentiveness and counsel we provide.”
Serving people is something that Rudolph learned early on. “Govs had a big impact on both my Dad and me; we are very similar. We take a lot of pride in working hard and giving back to the communities we work and live in. We also love to have a good time with friends and family. I think some of that definitely comes from our time at Govs and it’s why my dad has continued to be a trustee for so long.”
Having his father hand him his diploma at his Govs graduation is something that Rudolph says, “I’ll always remember.”
Rudolph continues to remain active with ADL, currently serving as co-chair of the ADL Associate Board. He was co-chair of ADL’s Young Leadership Celebration, a graduate of ADL’s Glass Leadership Institute, and served on the Associate Board’s Development Committee, Young Lawyers Committee, and as co-chair of the Associate Board’s Nominating Committee. In 2014, he spent two weeks in Germany representing ADL in its partnership with the German government’s Germany Close-Up program. In June 2020, he received the organization's prestigious Daniel R. Ginsberg National Leadership Award in recognition of his accomplishments. And he shows no signs of stepping away from his advocacy work.
“We live in turbulent times,” Rudolph says. “As the COVID-19 pandemic raged, ADL’s Center on Extremism began tracking and publishing reports of upsurges in extremist hate and violence targeting Asian-Americans, Chinese, Jews, and immigrants. We are all aware of the recent rise in hate speech around the world — where names and tropes once considered unacceptable are becoming normalized once again. ADL’s work is more important now than ever.”
Rudolph is hopeful that learned prejudices can be changed. “ADL is the leading organization that helps people unlearn prejudice through awareness, education, and action. When instances of hate occur, ADL is a voice for victims and an invaluable resource for law enforcement, educators, and municipalities responding.”
Rudolph continues to be inspired by his early experiences as an ADL peer trainer at Govs and an intern at ADL’s Boston office. “I saw first-hand the ADL’s intent and ability to support victims of hate and to bring communities together during times of unrest. I believe in the ADL’s Peer Trainer Pledge that ‘one person can make a difference and that no person can be an innocent bystander when it comes to opposing hate.’”