Jennifer Rosenkrantz has earned a reputation as one of Long Island's most capable young divorce lawyers, a partner at Schlissel Ostrow Karabatos in Garden City, who is already well known and respected in the courtrooms of Nassau County. Now in her early 40s, Rosenkrantz is, in many respects, one of the reasons the 8-lawyer Schlissel Ostrow Karabatos firm remains at the top of the Long Island divorce bar. Peers say she's candid, possesses a strong grasp of the law, and has an excellent memory and writing skills - all of which have served her clients well. Moreover, she's spent all of her career - more than 18 years now - practicing matrimonial law with, among others, the renowned Stephen W. Schlissel and Elena Karabatos, two of the state's best. There's a modesty about Rosenkrantz that conveys substance before style: "I'll never be known as the glitziest or showiest lawyer in our field," she says. "But I'm OK with that."
Growing up in the Annadale section of Staten Island, the oldest of three, Rosenkrantz says she was "definitely the good child - I always did well in school and I don't think I ever broke the rules." Her parents - her mother was a New York City schoolteacher and assistant principal, her father an advertising sales executive - imbued that sense of reliability and hard work, she says; she considered becoming a lawyer early on, in high school, largely because she knew she was not intimidated by any of its intellectual rigors. (She says she also liked "L.A. Law", a TV series that "made it all look enticing even if it wasn't very accurate.") At Staten Island's Tottenville High School, she graduated at the top of her class - and promptly did the same at SUNY Albany in little more than three years.
At Brooklyn Law School, she took family law courses knowing then that "representing corporations and pushing documents was not for me. I knew that, for me to practice law, I wanted to have a direct and meaningful impact on people's lives." Thus, Rosenkrantz took family law internships and court clerkships that introduced her to the people and processes of the specialty. More importantly, one of her law school professors was Stephen Schlissel, who spotted the diligence and thoroughness of Rosenkrantz's work; as he has with several of his younger partners, Schlissel hired her right out of the classroom. Rosenkrantz says "in the beginning he could be pretty intimidating, the expectations are very high." But Schlissel and Karabatos of course became two of her greatest career influences - and continue to be, she says. "Ours is a culture that expects every lawyer to learn from his or her mistakes." She adds, "I love our firm and I don't think I could practice anywhere else."
Like many female professionals, Rosenkrantz has faced down the beast of balancing work and family - she and her husband Seth, an administrator with the N.Y.C. Department of Education, have a 15-year-old daughter and an 10-year-old son, and "their school and other events don't get missed. You might call it a healthy combination of flexibility and discipline."
Today Rosenkrantz - in her earlier years she sat second chair on major trials, gaining valuable courtroom experience - has, like her colleagues, a litigation practice that spans from the City's boroughs to the courthouses of Nassau and Suffolk; she was named a partner of Schlissel Ostrow in 2006. What's more, she has written for and contributed to legal publications, on such issues as temporary maintenance guidelines, and she is in line to lead the County Bar's Matrimonial Law Committee. Thus, in many respects Rosenkrantz, focused on divorce litigation from the start and now confident and experienced, is entering the prime of her career. The courts recently recognized her stature by naming her a Special Master, an arbitrator who brings "a fresh eye" to litigated cases. One week of the year, though, you won't find her in the office: That's when she and her family make time for an annual Disney Cruise. "It's become a fun little tradition for us."