Q&A Topic: Trial & Litigation
Russell M. Yankwitt, Partner
Yankwitt LLP recently celebrated its 11th Anniversary. To what do you attribute your success?
First and foremost, our people – a law firm is only as good as its attorneys, and I am committed to hiring the best and brightest. All our attorneys attended leading law schools, and/or graduated number one in their class, and worked for Am Law 100 law firms. What truly separates us from other firms, however, is that all of our New York attorneys served as federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and/or clerked for federal court judges.
Ross Morrison, our most recent hire and sixth partner, is a graduate of Harvard Law School, is one of the firm’s four former AUSAs, and was a federal law clerk. We bring a collective experience to each case that is unmatched by any other firm in Westchester County.
Second, our exclusive focus on litigation. Yankwitt LLP has one of the largest litigation teams in Westchester county and is one the few litigation-only firms in Westchester. While there are many law firms in Westchester, no other firm focuses specifically on litigation or has a roster of such experienced and pedigreed litigators.
Where and how do you get your clients?
Our clients range from large national companies to smaller local businesses and individuals. Some have been with us for years, but of course, we also work to cultivate new client relationships through our varied referral sources — existing clients, Westchester transactional and other non-litigation attorneys , and law firms who need local New York counsel or who otherwise cannot take a case due to size or conflict. About 60 national law firms currently refer us business on a regular basis. We are known as ethical, aggressive trial attorneys who provide unmatched client service. Referring law firms know their clients will receive excellent lawyering and service at rates that are substantially lower than those charged by big firms. That being said, we also network in both our legal and local communities. We are active in many organizations including the Federal Bar Council, the Westchester County Bar Association, the Business Council of Westchester, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, and the greater Westchester nonprofit community.
Why is it important for businesses to retain local counsel in New York?
Businesses need local counsel for several reasons. For one thing, in the New York federal and state courts, the local rules require each party to be represented by at least one attorney who is admitted in New York. For out-of-state companies, this often necessitates hiring local counsel. Even where out-of-state lead counsel is admitted in New York, having local counsel can make a big difference in a New York litigation. Also, in state court, New York’s procedural rules are governed by the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR), which is a different animal from the federal rules and most other state court jurisdictions. Clients need attorneys who are intimately familiar with the CPLR and Yankwitt LLP’s attorneys know it backwards and forwards. Finally, the Westchester state and federal courts are a close-knit community and reputation matters. Yankwitt LLP attorneys are well-known and well respected by judges in both courthouses, where we practice daily. And in the federal courts in particular, we have decades of courtroom experience – in addition to having four former AUSAs, most of our attorneys have clerked for federal court judges and in fact, Yankwitt LLP is the only law firm with attorneys who have clerked for every federal court judge in Westchester County.
Can you give me a practical example of this?
Yes. Yankwitt LLP recently was retained as local counsel for a multinational company in a massive coordinated state court litigation based out of Suffolk County Supreme Court. Our client’s outstanding lead counsel is a regional firm based in the Midwest, so they needed a New York firm to provide CPLR and other local expertise and support on an ongoing basis. The case routinely presents novel procedural issues but because Yankwitt LLP attorneys have a thorough understanding of New York practice, we have been able to help them navigate the case’s uncharted waters. By retaining Yankwitt LLP, our client and lead counsel are supported by seasoned New York litigators at local Westchester prices.
About Russell Yankwitt
Russell Yankwitt founded Yankwitt LLP in 2009 after honing his litigation skills at the premier New York City law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP; as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York; and as a federal law clerk to Thomas C. Platt of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
He litigates commercial matters of all kinds, including contract and partnership disputes, employment and shareholder lawsuits, insurance coverage disputes, ADA litigations and premises liability cases. Russell has accrued an enviable track record of trial victories over the past two decades and is recognized as Westchester’s go-to litigator and trial attorney.
Well respected by the bar and judiciary, he is known to be a fair, effective and zealous client advocate. Russell graduated cum laude from Cornell Law School and is admitted to the federal and state bars in NY, CT, PA, and NJ, as well as to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Russell M. Yankwitt
140 Grand Street