Kevin Fritz, Protege to Stephen Meister, Hits the Real Estate Fast Track
Daniel Geiger Feb. 15, 2012, 9:30 a.m.
He’s a rising litigator in the city and, at the side of well-known lawyer Stephen Meister, his career has been on the fast track.
Kevin Fritz has become Mr. Meister’s right hand man in a host of cases, including a recent $11 million fraud suit that has drawn attention in Manhattan real estate circles.
In that case, Mr. Fritz is working with Mr. Meister to defend Isaac Chetrit, a cousin of the well known real estate investor Joe Chetrit, in his attempts to rightfully gain control of the Manhattan office building 315 West 35th Street. The bizarre case began in 2010 when the current owner of the property, Aaron Chitrik, who has long been in default, allegedly altered the deed to the property’s mortgage along with cohorts, placing it illicitly into an entity they controlled.
Along with Mr. Meister, Mr. Fritz has been one of the lead attorneys in that case, helping to relaunch Mr. Chetrit’s foreclosure proceeding against the property and get the property into the hands of a receiver while the case is sorted out.
Mr. Fritz began his career out of law school at the large law firm Paul Weiss, but quickly moved over to federal court, working for Sandra Feuerstein, a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. It was there that he got his first taste of criminal misdeeds and difficult litigations.
“It was intense, you’re part of a staff that is assisting the judge in preparing the rulings for all of the cases,” Mr. Fritz said. “It’s all types of cases, criminal and civil cases, everything, even gang related case. It certainly was a humbling position.”
Mr. Fritz struck up such a close working relationship with Judge Feuerstein that she officiated his wedding in 2009. After working for the judge for several years, Mr. Fritz moved to Storch Amini & Munves PC, a firm that allowed him to finally get in the courtroom as a litigator, a longtime ambition.
“Working there was the first time I really got into court in a representative capacity even though I had been in the court for years,” Mr. Fritz said. “I love the challenge of having to think on your feet. It’s one thing to put together a legal brief when there’s not a gun to our head and it’s a whole other thing when you’re being questioned by the judge on the spot and you have to be on your toes and be sharp, I love the challenge of that.”
Mr. Fritz is a fitting protege of Mr. Meister’s. Representing clients like Joe Moinian and Harry Macklowe in a series of high profile suits in the city, Mr. Meister has developed a reputation for being an astute litigator who is not afraid to scrap in the court room.
Mr. Fritz said that he got the chance to join Mr. Meister’s firm, Meister Seelig & Fein, by chance; the firm is in the same building as Storch Amini & Munves PC: 2 Grand Central Tower.
“I can’t even qualify the amount I’ve learned under Stephen,” Mr. Fritz said. “He comes up with brilliant approaches that most people wouldn’t think of in a case.”
Besides the action against Mr. Chitrik in the foreclosure case at 315 West 35th Street, Mr. Fritz is also involved in representing investor Yair Levy in his case against former partner Kent Swig. Mr. Levy alleges that Mr. Swig embezzled money at the Sheffield, a residential building that Mr. Levy and Mr. Swig bought together that eventually went into foreclosure.