Rachel Ambats is a self-empowered New York City attorney and owner of the Law Office of Rachel Ambats, PLLC. Since Rachel launched her legal career over a decade ago, her practice has focused on protecting the rights of children, families, and individuals. She has represented clients in matters involving civil and human rights violations, employment discrimination, matrimonial law, child abuse and neglect proceedings, and appellate applications. She litigates before both state and federal courts, as well as before administrative boards. In addition, Rachel Ambats served as a hearing officer for the City of New York, adjudicating cases involving violations of the New York City Administrative Code, the Rules of the City of New York, and the New York City Health Code. Rachel currently works in the appeal unit, where she reviews the records from hearings, evaluates the evidence presented, objectively analyzes the arguments asserted on appeal, and drafts decisions accordingly.
Ms. Ambats earned her Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, where she was recognized for her commitment to volunteer service and was a recipient of the Community Spirit Award for Innovation in Service. She also qualified as a member of Cornell’s Dean’s Scholar Program. Rachel continued her education at Brooklyn Law School where she earned her Juris Doctor by attending law school in the evenings while working full-time as a public-school teacher during the day.
Where did the idea for the Law Office of Rachel Ambats come from?
It can be somewhat daunting to take the step and open your own law firm. Successful or not, all decisions are my own. It would be much easier to have someone else take all the risks. I was inspired to go out on my own by the loving support and guidance of my father. I knew my strengths and the extent of my experience. The Law Office of Rachel Ambats came from knowing that I was capable of carving-out my path independently.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start each day by going for a short walk, even if just around the block. It gets me energized, and gives me the opportunity to clear my mind and go over my plan for the day. I am a big “to-do” list maker. I use lists to prioritize what I need to accomplish each day. I also spend time each morning answering emails or other correspondence, and arranging phone conferences when necessary. I create a clear idea of what my day will look like, and I budget my time for each case and task accordingly. I make sure not to become hyper-focused on one case, and make sure to take breaks from cases, switching to other cases or tasks. Then, I can return to the previous case at a later time with a new, fresh perspective and attitude. I also meet with clients or communicate with them over phone, and I participate in Zoom conferences with colleagues. I always make time to research new issues and to read up on current court decisions.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Ideas begin to form when I first speak with the client about their case, their concerns, and their goals. I communicate with client in a meaningful way. I begin by writing a preliminary outline of what each case will entail, and adjust the outline and my course of action as I gather more. I make sure to do the necessary research on each case, helping me build the case from inception until it comes to fruition.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Communities are protecting their environments. Communities are making their voices heard about what they want and need. One trend that I like is the unity that I see in people advocating for change, and not giving up.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am hard-working, and always make sure to get the job done. When I have an idea that I want to see come to fruition, I do the research and the work. I also maintain close relationships with former colleagues, and take interest in their work and how they accomplish their goals. I am always open to opportunities to learn from other entrepreneurs.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self not to doubt my instincts, and to give myself the credit I deserve. Most importantly, I would tell myself not to focus on competing with others. There is room for everyone to succeed, and to support and learn from each other.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
As I mentioned above, there is room for everyone to succeed. You don’t need to compete with others to achieve your goals. Everybody has the ability to succeed if you are willing to put in the work. There are many opportunities out there, you just have to recognize them and make them your own.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Stay organized, and don’t procrastinate. Have a set list of goals, and stick with it. Give yourself a timeline, and set milestones. As your cases evolve, always make sure to reevaluate your list and time frames. Use this tactic in all aspects of your life, making lists for work, personal use, and other areas. That way you will know what needs to be accomplished, and you won’t get overwhelmed. I also recommended always staying connected with colleagues. You can always learn from them, discuss current issues, and maybe even work together in the future.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The best strategy for any success is setting goals and maintaining priorities. Working closely with clients and assessing their specific needs is my strength. Dedication to my cases, and working diligently to achieve goals has helped me grow my practice.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented hardships in all areas. Particularly the closure of the courts caused a slowdown in clients and financial intake. The city is slowly reopening, but there are still obstacles, and new struggles have emerged as a result of the recent events. I always try to keep a positive attitude and brainstorm innovative ways to gain new clients and maintain my practice.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I do have several business ideas about various issues, but I’m not quite ready to part with them just yet.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently donated to organizations that are close to my heart – the Humane Society of the United States, GoFundMe for critical medical care for a rescued dog, the Riverside Park Conservancy, the Wolf Conservation Center, and DonorsChoose.org, which supports individual teacher’s classroom needs.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use Microsoft Excel to keep a list of my cases. I can index cases by sections of law, topics, and issues. I can see results at a glance. The keyword search tool is extremely useful for my work, and can use it to help me connect cases with similar subjects.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar. It is about realizing how to create your own meaningful path in your journey through life.
What is your favorite quote?
”Everything is constantly changing. No moment ever appears again in exactly the same way. None of the 6,400,099,180 moments of a day can be repeated, and nobody knows what will happen next.” – Dainin Katagiri
• Be confident, remain positive, and believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone else make you feel inferior. You can accomplish whatever you set out to do.
• The best strategy for success in business and life is setting goals, sticking to them, and maintaining priorities.
• Know your strengths and the value of your experience. Know that you are capable of carving out your path.
• Above all else, do what makes you happy.