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Careers at Itkowitz PLLC

What follows are answers to Frequently Asked Questions about what it is like to be an associate at Itkowitz PLLC and our hiring process.

  1. What is the current composition of the firm? Who will I be working for and with?

    Itkowitz PLLC is Michelle Maratto Itkowitz’s law firm. Her husband and law partner, Jay B. Itkowitz, has a role in the firm as well. As of this writing in early November 2019, we currently have two associate attorneys. One is a 10th year who has been with us for many years. One is a third year, who we trained from entry-level. We have one well-trained paralegal. We have two technologists, an accounting person, and a human resources manager.

  2. How many hours per week am I expected to be at work? To bill?

    You should expect to be at work, on average, about 45 hours per week, depending on what is going on. There is no "billable hours" requirement. Associates are expected to enter into the time keeping program a record of all their activities while at work. Currently, the associates are required to record an average of 180 hours per month. Please note that those 180 hours are not "billable" hours, they are hours spent at work or working. Thus, things like researching from home count toward your 180 hours. This is not as onerous as the hourly requirements at large law firms, but neither does it make for a nine-to-five job.

  3. What will I be doing?

    For an entry-level position, the following are examples of what you will be doing at first:

    • Reading extremely long leases and contracts
    • Legal research, legal research, legal research
    • Routine court appearances, mainly for calendar calls and compliance conferences
    • Drafting letters
    • Routine, and increasingly more challenging, communications with opposing counsel and clients
    • Preparing pleadings
    • Preparing discovery demands
    • Responding to discovery demands
    • Organizing facts and data, making time lines and spreadsheets
    • Attending client meetings and taking notes
    • Electronically Stored Information (“ESI") discovery work
    • Preparing materials that partners need for depositions, oral arguments, trials, etc.
    • Legal Project Management

    The following are some examples of what you will likely be doing within the year:

    • MORE legal research
    • Drafting simple, and increasingly more complicated, motions
    • Arguing the motions you draft
    • Inquests
    • Defending depositions on cases you are very familiar with
    • Greater interaction with clients
    • Routine, and increasingly more complicated, settlement negotiations
    • Trial prep
    • Legal Project Management

    Within two years:

    • More legal research
    • Harder motions
    • Taking depositions where appropriate
    • Second seating trials
    • Legal Project Management

  4. It sounds like I will have a great deal of responsibility; will I have enough training and supervision, or will I be left on my own?

    You will be more than adequately trained and supervised. Every day will be a learning experience. In fact, this is a great job to have if your primary goal at this stage in your career is to develop as an attorney.

    We are committed to teaching. We teach and write extensively for the legal profession as well as for other professional groups. Moreover, we have a great computer system and we have many documents automated, so they are easier to draft.

  5. I see that you firm focuses on New York City landlord and tenant litigation. I did not concentrate in real property classes in law school. Nor did any of my clinics or jobs focus on real estate litigation? Is that a problem?

    Not in the least. You will be trained. We understand what we are getting when we hire entry-levels.

  6. Why do you hire entry levels?

    We prefer to hire recent law graduates (within a couple years of graduation) who are a natural match for an entry-level position. Entry-level associates are integral to our firm's delivery of superior client service in a value-driven model. It is healthy to train someone up to your standards. And the energy and enthusiasm an entry level brings to the table are unmatched. When entry levels are closely supervised and properly trained, they are an excellent part of a legal team.

    Law is an apprentice profession. It always has been. It has to be; there is too much to know, with more to know all the time. Experienced lawyers have to teach new lawyers, and we are happy to do so.

  7. What can you tell me about how you manage your cases at Itkowitz PLLC? - You mention Legal Project Management on the website - what is it?

    Legal Project Management is the discipline of managing resources to bring about the successful completion of the specific goals of a legal case, while honoring the constraints of the matter -- such as time, money, and the status of relevant law.

    The Michelle Itkowitz version of Legal Project Management works in the following way. A case is subdivided into a series of manageable stages (or "Scopes of Work"), for each of which there is a cycle of assessment, client choice, execution, and outcome. With LPM's in-depth assessment phase, the client and firm are focused on information gathering, risk assessment, and critical thinking from the inception of each Scope of Work, so that the client is better able to make choices. By the time we reach the execution phase, there is more realistic approach to allocation of resources, budgeting, cost control, and deadline management. Because the client is making educated, informed choices, the client is not surprised by outcomes. When each Scope of Work is completed, new information feeds right back into the next Scope of Work, and the assessment begins anew.

    All of our associates are taught to approach their work with this method.

  8. How will I get feedback? Is there a formal review process?

    We do not have a formal review process at this time. But in an environment as small as this one you will not be wondering what your strengths and weaknesses are. That becomes apparent very quickly. We give a great deal of feedback, both positive and constructive. Law is an apprentice profession, and continual feedback is part of the natural process. Look at it this way - it is in the firm's interest to capitalize upon your strengths and to help you improve upon the areas in which you need growth.

  9. What is the technology like at the firm?

    The technology at Itkowitz PLLC is excellent, truly as good as you will find at any firm, of any size, anywhere. Each Itkowitz team member has a state-of-the-art desktop and is supported by our team of top-notch technologists. Itkowitz PLLC employs seamlessly integrated practice management software, document management software, and document generation software, which allows the firm to be a "paperless" office. Itkowitz PLLC is a fully e-discovery capable firm.

    Itkowitz PLLC does not have technology for technology's sake, rather we have good stuff that works and makes life easier. Our experience has always been that the technology pays for itself by helping us efficiently provide excellent service to our clients. Most small firms simply do not invest the significant time and money in technology that Itkowitz does.

  10. What is the environment at the firm really like? How would you describe the company culture?

    Honestly…it’s nice here.

  11. Where will I sit? What are the facilities like?

    We are at 305 Broadway, right across from the court houses. Michelle Itkowitz owns the company that rents three floors in the building, so the law firm can take as much space as it needs. Here is a picture of the view from the associates’ room:

  12. What benefits do I get?

    Among other benefits, employees of Itkowitz PLLC get United Healthcare-Oxford Healthcare, after three months on the job, and the employee pays thirty percent (30%) of the premium. We will provide you with greater details on all of the benefits once we make you an offer and you are deciding whether to take the job.

  13. How much time off do I get?

    Associates start with three weeks paid vacation / sick time.

  14. What are the expectations with respect to attire?

    Business casual. Emphasis on “casual”. We do not dress up every day. Client meetings are scheduled in advance. We only dress up when we have to be at a meeting or in court. We all keep suits in the closet at work. This makes life much easier.

  15. What is the support staff like?

    The paralegal is a career paralegal, with a post-graduate paralegal certificate. The tech people are very experienced as well.

  16. Can I ever work from home?

    It is important for you to be present in the office for the first year at least. However, we give you the capability to sign in remotely if necessary.

  17. Is the advertised salary negotiable? Do you give end-of-year bonuses?

    The advertised salary is not negotiable. We do not give end of year bonuses; the salary is all you can expect for the year.

  18. Where do your associates come from and how long do they stay?

    Since Michelle founded her firm, she has had an average of two associates at a time, and those associates stay for an average of almost three years each (the average is 34 months).

    We do not favor any particular law school. We like any law school that produces great people. Our last seven associates' law schools were:

    • Emory University School of Law
    • University of Virginia School of Law
    • Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
    • Brooklyn Law School (2 of the 7)
    • University of Virginia School of Law
    • University of Ohio

  19. Does the firm have an internal mission statement?

    These are the things that we are trying to achieve at Itkowitz PLLC:

    • At the conclusion of every engagement, the client must have the opinion that they received value from our representation. Our goal is to have only happy customers.
    • We want a surfeit of potential good clients and good cases, so that we may choose whom we work with and what we work on.
    • We always want to remain above reproach in all things, from an ethics perspective.
    • We want our work to be respected by our colleagues, opponents, judges, and the public in general.
    • We want our associates, paralegals, and other team members to enjoy their time here and to grow professionally from the experience of being here.
    • We want to give back to the profession through teaching.
    • We want to maintain a healthy price point and archive a healthy profit margin.

  20. Itkowitz PLLC is a small firm; do you anticipate it remaining so?

    Yes, we will remain a small firm.

  21. Who are your clients?

    We represent tenants and landlords, in both residential and commercial matters. We are proud to serve all kinds of clients - individuals, big and small businesses, family businesses, start-ups, non-profits, and government, in this exciting niche area at the center of real property law. We also frequently work closely with corporate counsel, real estate transactional counsel, and estate counsel who bring us in to consult on the rent regulatory aspects of their deals.

  22. How is the firm's ethics record?

    We are proud to say that we have never made a claim to our insurance carrier, nor has anyone here ever been disciplined in any way by the Bar Association. Our ethics record is spotless.

  23. Why have you chosen to interview me? And what will my interview be like? Describe the hiring process.

    Our associate hiring process goes like this.

    We place an advertisement for an associate position with 50 law schools on Symplicity and with approximately a dozen minority bar associations.

    Applicants who do not follow the application process required by the job advertisement are eliminated immediately. Following instructions is important in this field.

    The remining resumes are subjected to a detailed analysis using a standardized point system that gives credit for: presentation, academics, writing, moot court, work experience, bar admissions, school, and other factors.

    ask the top ranked individuals for two writing samples. Before we read the samples, an administrative person redacts the names from the writing samples, so that as we read, we have no idea what a person’s gender is, whose name begins with A and whose with Z. Then we read the samples closely and rate them using a standardized point system that gives credit for: communication, complexity, persuasiveness, brevity, clarity, organization, topic sentences, format, etc.

    After rating the writing samples, we ask the top writers to come in for an interview where they meet with Michelle Itkowitz. Michelle has prepared a list of a super-psychological-scientific interview questions to ask the candidates. It is important that we know what you would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Honestly, the questions are straightforward, and most are simply designed to get you to talk. If you have made it to this point in the process, you are qualified for the job. Michelle's task at the interview is simply to determine who is likely to be the best fit for the job. Thus, there are no correct or incorrect answers to the questions.

    We do not do second interviews anymore.

    If we are going to offer you the job, we will ask for your references and speak with them. We also ask for a copy of your law school transcript.

    It is a long and hard process - for the firm - NOT for the candidate. But there is nothing more important to this firm than hiring the best people, so it is well worth the trouble.

  24. How many people am I competing with for this job?

    If you average the last four associate ads that we placed, we get 209 resumes every time we place an ad.

  25. Why do you give so much information about the job?

    Wrong question. The question should be – why doesn’t every firm answer these questions ahead of time?

    We got tired of wasting interview time telling people the answers to the same questions over and over. We prefer to be efficient and transparent.