By: David Bjorkgren, Senior Editor
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit close to home at the Koutsoudakis & Iakovou Law Group in New York.
Partner Andreas Koutsoudakis Jr. lost his father to the virus.
Andreas Koutsoudakis Sr., a Greek immigrant who came to America with very little, but who built a thriving business on his hard work, died March 27.
“It was just very sudden,” said law partner Michael Iakovou. “Someone with not many underlying health issues, fairly young, 59 years old, to pass like that.”
Koutsoudakis Jr. and Iakovou have organized a GoFundMe campaign in Koutsoudakis’ name, hoping to raise $1,200. As of April 8, they had raised $51,250.
The money will be spread out to buy N95 masks and face shields for medical staff at hospitals in need.
That includes Richmond County University Hospital in Staten Island, where Koutsoudakis passed; and ones in Crete, where Koutsoudakis is from and at hospitals on Kos and Kalymnos Islands in Greece, where Iakovou’s family is from.
Iakovou’s wife, Isabella, has been dealing with the coronavirus in her work as an ICU nurse at Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell. She’s been working an inordinate amount of hours to take care of very sick patients.
Responding to a pandemic
The law firm and its clients have not been immune from COVID-19, either. The law group represents many restaurants, hospitality groups and construction companies. When the pandemic shut down the economy, it impacted many of their clients.
Koutsoudakis & Iakovou went from handling contract negotiations and real estate and business transactions to helping their clients process the paperwork surrounding the various loan programs and business aid, like the federal CARE Act that suddenly appeared on the scene.
The firm is prepared to handle much more from the pandemic fallout.
“We’re still representing businesses, but just not in the same context as we were representing them last month. That’s what a good lawyer or law firm is all about, to be able to provide service to clients based on the situation on hand, not just the things by rote,” Iakovou said.
Koutsoudakis & Iakovou represents small and medium-sized businesses as well as the personal legal needs of the business owners.
They handle both litigation and transactional matters. That means bringing people together on business deals as well as settling disputes when they come up.
Iakovou’s practice areas of focus include real estate acquisition, asset protection, business and real estate holding restructuring and commercial transactions.
A one-stop shop
It’s a one-stop shop because of the coming together in December 2018 of Andreas Jr., a litigator; and Michael, a transactional lawyer.
Both had established practices when they merged so the partnership allowed them to offer large scale legal representation at a boutique law firm price.
Business has exploded in the past 18 months because of the scope of their legal coverage, Iakovou said.
They merged to help each other with the workload, to spend more time with family. What happened instead was better service to their clients because of their combined skills.
Iakovou describes himself as a deal maker. “Just reaching a consensus to me is very satisfying, knowing I can make a deal happen for my client even under the most unreasonable or difficult circumstances.”
Iakovou has a lot of medical practitioners in his family. His father, Christos, a Greek immigrant, is a well-known physician in the Greek American community with the Northwell Health System on Long Island. He studied at the Athens medical school, and started his career in America.
His mother is a recently retired nurse practitioner. One of his sisters Annamaria, is also a physician at Northwell, while his other sister is a teacher.
He grew up in New York, mostly on Long Island, in a Greek American household. “We received great exposure to both cultures, American and Greek, which was very important for my upbringing.”
He learned the importance of family and church on his Greek side, along with a Greek American work ethic and a need to do well that influenced his successful career later in life.
In a household of healthcare professionals, Iakovou asks himself all the time how he ended up a lawyer.
The law, and all things connected to it; history, philosophy and language, have always been of tremendous interest to him.
He describes the path to being an experienced lawyer as a baptism by fire.
For him it was a 10-year learning experience. “It takes time to be well rounded,” and to admit you don’t know everything and aren’t always in control.
Looking ahead, Iakovou sees Koutsoudakis & Iakovou, now in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, expanding into the Philadelphia and Connecticut markets, once the pandemic ends.