TAEM- Our magazine has been created to cover many subjects that students set their sights on for future careers. These include the Arts, Science, Music, Sports, and Acting. Our interviews are made to give them insight into the success of all those we interview and give them a path to follow to achieve the same success as theirs, and avoid the pitfalls that would be met along the way.
We have decided to explore a new field that many students may follow by opening a new segment of our magazine titled ‘LAW’. As in all the fields that we cover, we have sought those in the top rungs of their industries in order to focus on the success stories that would best guide our readers. Therefore we would like to introduce one of the top New York legal minds, Eric Rothstein.
Eric, first we would like to thank you for spending the time out of your very busy schedule in order to lend your guidance to those students looking to follow in your footsteps. Please tell us why you chose this profession to follow, and who was your inspiration in doing so ?
ER- Truthfully, I do not remember a specific reason why I went to law school. It seemed like a natural next step after majoring in political science in college. I remember when I was young my father once mentioning that law was a good profession to pursue.
TAEM- Please tell us about your educational background including the courses that you took and the schools that you attended.
ER- I graduated college from the University of Vermont in 1988 with a major in political science and a minor is sociology. One of my favorite courses was a business law class. I broke my rule against taking 8 am classes in order to take it! I also enjoyed a business class where I did a business plan for the Recreational Sports program where I was a supervisor.
I obtained my law degree from the University of Bridgeport School of Law in 1991. In law school, I particularly liked my tax classes and my real estate law classes. I wanted to go into real estate law after graduation but the market was tight and I was thrilled to get a job as a prosecutor.
TAEM- The legal field is multi-faceted with many avenues to it. Please tell us about the particular field of law that you chose and why you did so.
ER- I currently practice criminal defense and personal injury law. After law school I served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Queens County DA’s Office where I received very well rounded training. I was one of only two members of my Class to be assigned to the Homicide Investigations Bureau where I responded to murder scenes and assisted the Detectives with their investigation. I later worked in the Appeals Bureau and then the Trials Bureau. I was very fortunate to be designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York where I investigated and prosecuted airport narcotics importation cases. Based on my training as a prosecutor I have the skill set to investigate a case from scratch, successfully litigate and try the case, and then defend the judgment on appeal. Working as a civil and criminal defense litigator was a natural progression from being an Assistant DA.
TAEM- How long have you been in this profession, and tell us about some of the interesting cases that you represented ?
ER- I became a lawyer in 1991. As a prosecutor I investigated the murder of a Hofstra University Law Professor who had previously clerked for the Chief Judge of New York. I took the video-taped confession of one of the perpetrators and presented the case to the grand jury. I also represented an accused drug lord in a federal death penalty case. That was intense. We convinced the Department of Justice not to seek the death penalty on the last full day of the Clinton Administration. A day or two later the result likely would have been different.
TAEM- Of all the cases that you worked on what would you say would of been the most intent, and the rewarding success that you achieved for it ?
ER- It is hard to pick just one case. I like to say that I make a difference one client at a time. Every client comes to me with a problem; they have either been arrested or hurt in an accident. The common thread is that they all need help. Whether I think the case is big or not I recognize that it is all consuming for my client. That is why I treat every case like it is the biggest case in my office.
TAEM- In researching your past I noted that you had achieved a great honor in 2012 from the Martindale-Hubbel’s Peer Review Ratings. Please tell us about it, and the great feeling of this prestigious honor.
ER- Martindale-Hubbell gave me its highest rating – AV Preeminent – in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Litigation. Fewer than eight percent of attorneys achieve an AV Preeminent rating. I was very honored to receive this recognition.
TAEM- What are the ratings based on and how has this honor helped you receive further success ?
ER- Martindale-Hubbell ratings are based on a large number of peer reviews and Martindale-Hubbell’s own investigation. Having the AV rating plaque on my wall and the badge on my website is something that gives potential new clients confidence that I am the right lawyer to represent them.
TAEM- In 2016 you achieved another great accolade from Thomson Reuters. Please tell us about this and how it was made possible.
ER- Thomson Reuters has named be a Super Lawyer for the past six years (2012 – 2017). This recognition is based on nominations from fellow attorneys. Only five percent of lawyers received the Super Lawyer designation.
TAEM- Eric, what sage advice would you give our student readers towards a legal career, and what pitfalls should they avoid ?
ER- I tell people in college to think very carefully before committing to law school. The field is very crowded and the newspapers say it is hard to get a job. However, it is a very rewarding profession and every day is different. The job requires you to become knowledgeable about so many different things depending on what the issues are in your cases. I think the path I took was a good one. Working as a prosecutor gets you trial experience very quickly and you can build your skill set from there. You can read books about how to try a case but actually doing it is the only way to learn and improve. I would try to avoid working at a firm where you are going to just push paper for years and never see the inside of a courtroom.
TAEM- Eric, I want to thank you for your time for this valuable interview. Your accomplishments have been many and those you have helped in your career owe you much. We look forward to hearing more about you and hope that you continue to inform us of your many future successes.