Life is inspired by ambitious unsung heroines who forge their way through many battles, much for the benefit of others. Rachel Ambats is one such individual. She is a humanitarian who wears a variety of hats. She is recognized as an attorney, an entrepreneur, an educator, a judicial hearing officer, and above all, she is an advocate of human rights for individuals, families, and children, as well as an advocate for the protection of animals and community spaces.
Rachel Ambats’ zeal to protect the human rights of others began long before her career training was complete. Throughout the time she was earning her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University, she volunteered her time to educate children in the community about abuse and neglect prevention, by teaching children to learn their rights and voice any concerns. She also worked helping to build homes for low-income families. Her efforts were recognized when she received the Community Spirit Award for Innovation in Service, and by qualifying for the Dean’s Scholar Program at Cornell University.
After graduation, Rachel backpacked her way throughout Australia and New Zealand, which afforded her the opportunity to expand her world view of other cultures and ways of life. Upon returning from her travels, Rachel began her career as a New York City public school teacher, serving in a Title I school, servicing children in highly impoverished neighborhoods. As her momentum grew, so too did her passion. She was determined to positively impact the lives of children and to serve for the betterment of communities. The power of her determination resulted in Rachel putting herself through law school, working as a teacher during the day while attending law classes at night. Her determination paid off, and she attained her Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School. She then began her legal career began as a prosecutor for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), where she gained a wealth of experience over the next six years. Inspired by the support and guidance of her father, Rachel, ultimately transitioned into private practice.
As an Entrepreneur and sole owner of the Law Office of Rachel Ambats, PLLC, Rachel champions her clients to achieve their goals and resolve legal matters. Her expertise is practiced in state, appellate, and federal courts. Rachel also works for the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH). She began her career at OATH by serving as a hearing officer, presiding over 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 later transferred to OATH’s Appeals Unit, where she currently reviews appeal records from hearings, evaluates the evidence presented, and objectively analyzes the arguments presented on appeal.
As an animal and community advocate, Rachel often contributes to the Humane Society and the Riverside Park Conservancy. She also partook in a way to make a positive impact by giving back to organizations in need during the pandemic, while simultaneously staying active and keeping in touch with friends and family. During the month of August, she participated in a 100-mile virtual race to benefit the Wolf Conservation Center. Rachel participated in a team of individuals, supporting and encouraging each other throughout the event. Her team placed 2nd out of 168 teams, and they raised over $1,200 in donations to benefit the Conservation Center.
For over more than a decade, Rachel Ambats has endeavored to achieve excellence in business and in her personal life. She has achieved a multitude of successes through her determination and hard work. She has been a heroine for many, and a humanitarian for others. One thing is clear, her passion for the law is only surpassed by her commitment and tireless dedication to the clients she represents.
How did you get started as a lawyer?
I have always had a strong commitment to public service. While I was in college, I volunteered teaching children in the community about their rights and how to stand up against abuse. After graduating, I worked as a public school teacher for several years in a Title I school, serving one of the most highly impoverished neighborhoods in New York City. I quickly came to see law school as a pathway to have a much-needed greater impact on children’s lives and on the betterment of communities. I transitioned into my legal career by putting myself through law school – attending classes at night, while working as a teacher during the day. My first position as an attorney was with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Over the next six and a half years, I handled child abuse and neglect matters, including severe and repeated abuse cases.
What made you go into private practice since you had an established career path?
After working at ACS, I worked for a small private firm where I continued to pursue foster care cases, freeing children for adoption. I also gained a wealth of experience in other areas of law, and practiced in state and federal courts, as well as in administrative proceedings. I decided to transition into private practice, where I have been able to carve out my own path of how I want my legal career to take form, and what cases and issues I want to focus on. I continue my pursuit of helping children and families, while also expanding to cases involving employment discrimination, breach of contract, and civil rights violations.
What part of your job do you find most challenging?
I have to be constantly cognizant my clients’ position and my role as an attorney when taking on a case. I deal with families, people, their businesses, their homes, and their livelihoods. It is not just about enforcing the law for my clients; it is also about a client’s personal feelings, emotions, and attachments about a wide variety of issues. I pay close attention to the cases and the clients I take on. I am very attentive and exercise meaningful contact with my clients. I maintain a sensitive connection when engaging with clients about their cases. It can be very challenging at times.
What do you find as the most enjoyable aspect of your work?
I love the law and all of its nuances. I enjoy figuring out how to resolve issues, especially when brainstorming with colleagues. I enjoy research; there is always something new and often complex to analyze with each case. The ultimate joy is helping people achieve their goals. It is very rewarding to see a child who has been in foster care for years get adopted into a loving forever family.
What sets your law firm aside from other similar practices?
My experience is extensive and comprehensive. In addition to my legal practice, my commitment to public service grounds me, and sets me apart from other attorneys. In college, I taught child abuse and neglect prevention programs. I also worked with an organization called On-Site Volunteer Services, where we built homes in low-income areas. I have also traveled – often independently – to various countries to expand my world view and experience other cultures. My unique background, coupled with my dedication to my clients and my willingness and determination to achieve my client’s goals, sets me apart from other law firms and practices.
What is the toughest business decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit New York City and all its industries hard. Courts were closed, and eventually only virtual emergency hearings were permitted. Client intake slowed, business was sparse, and I had to decide how to proceed with my practice in such a climate. Ultimately, I chose to keep my firm open and developed new ways to garner client interest, such as adding monthly blogs to my website on current and relevant issues.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I believe my experience carries the weight of my success. I am also very relatable with my clients and colleagues. I am hardworking and fully dedicated to my work and my clients. I am willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
What has been your most satisfying moment in your career?
There have been so many extremely satisfying moments, but one that stands out the most is when I had the distinct honor of being a recipient of the Fund for Teachers Grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant allowed me to travel to Costa Rica, where I connected with many different schools across the country. I used my experience there to develop an interactive curriculum for my students back in New York. The curriculum I developed gave my students the full experience of what it was like to travel and experience another culture – even getting their own mock plane tickets and passports to begin their journey into another country. I integrated all subject areas into the curriculum. For example, we constructed a huge map incorporating art, science, math, and more, in order to provide a comprehensive and exciting experience for the students. Another satisfying experience that stands out in my mind was a particular child abuse case where one child was deceased due to abuse by a parent, but we were able to successfully fight for rights of the four siblings. The siblings were ultimately freed for adoption and remained together in their new home, which is rare, as often siblings are separated into different homes. I am also very satisfied with the work that I have done at the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), enforcing public safety laws and codes, while ensuring that all parties have a fair hearing and an opportunity to be heard.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I think the future holds an expanded private practice. I have been collaborating with other colleagues on larger and more complex cases. I believe there will be a lot of fall-out for the state, stemming from the current climate. There will be consequences with everything – from employment discrimination to people losing their jobs due to the pandemic, and other abuses of power. People are facing losing their homes, and constantly fear being evicted. I will be involved in helping people get through a variety of these tough issues. I am also dedicated to continuing my work with OATH. Now that I have been a hearing officer and currently work in the Appeals Unit, I hope to expand my experience working with OATH to benefit the overall functioning of the agency.
What books have inspired you?
The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Yes, absolutely. I was a mentor for two years after graduating Brooklyn Law School for students who were interested in family law and public service. I can be reached either by completing the contact section on my website: www.rachelambatslaw.com or by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.