By David Mammano in alliance with Next Step Magazine
Growing up, attorney Mitchell J. Kassoff, Esq. had two heroes, his father and Perry Mason. Since both were outstanding attorneys, it’s no wonder that Kassoff has dedicated his life to preserving, upholding, and explaining the law.
Kassoff specializes in business law. Specifically franchising, discrimination, trademark, copyright, employment, and labor law. There are many different types of lawyers but Kassoff had an interest in business law from a very young age.
“While other Pre-Law students were majoring in Political Science, I opted for Public Accounting. I knew I wanted to enter the field of business law and thought this would be more appropriate.”
While Kassoff admits, “There is no `typical day’ for a lawyer”, he spends much of his time creating contracts, defending his clients or suing others in court, lecturing to attorneys and accountants, and doing paperwork. As far as hours per week goes, “It depends. Some weeks I’ll work 50 hours, and some 80. It just depends on the workload.”
Kassoff’s mission as an attorney is to win for the client. “Being an attorney means having honor and always doing everything you can within the law to win for your client. It’s a very competitive business.”
Kassoff began at the State University of New York at Albany where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. He then moved on to the University of Virginia School of Law where he dove into tax, finance and other business related law courses. His first job took him to Wall Street where he handled administrative and corporate law. “Working for a big firm was a great learning experience. I was paid well and learned how things were done in the real world. The negative part is that you are asked to consistently work very long hours. After awhile, I figured that I can make just a good living on my own, where the hours are designed by myself.”
If the only reason you want to become a lawyer is for the money “think again”, says Kassoff. “You should become a lawyer because of your love for law. My kids think I’m crazy, but I thoroughly enjoy writing a 100-page contract for a client. I feel like I’m creating something unique and special. My favorite part of being a lawyer is winning in court. It’s one the best feelings in the world.”
Kassoff warns young adults about entering the field of law just for money. “There are many lawyers who make only $40,000 – $50,000 a year. And then, there are some in Silicon Valley making $400,000 – $500,000 a year. The one thing you’ll find in common with these lawyers is their love for the business. You have to love it. It’s very intense and if you’re miserable making $400,000 a year isn’t worth it.
For young adults who wish to explore the field a bit before they jump in, Kassoff recommends first talking to a lawyer working in their field of interest. “Find a connection within your family. Most people know somebody that is or has a lawyer. Try to get an appointment with this lawyer and ask him many questions. Try to find a connection that will get the lawyer talking themselves and the field. I am an Eagle Scout so when an Eagle Scout calls me for advice or information, the door is wide open.”
Kassoff recommends thinking carefully about what you study at your undergraduate college. ” The common path law is Political Science but don’t necessarily choose this. Think about what area of law you’d like to pursue. I took business courses because I knew that I wanted to enter the field of business law. It’s also very important to take English and Writing courses. Good communication is the key to being a good lawyer. If you can’t write or speak well, you’ll be at a disadvantage.”