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Eichner Fellow Matt Mikhail '13 reflects on summer experience in New York

Matt Mikhail had never been to New York before.  “It was pretty exciting,” he said. “It’s unbelievably big.”  Mikhail, a 3L, spent 10 weeks living and working in Manhattan, as part of a fellowship program created by College of Law alumnus and CEO of The Continuum Company LLC (TCC), Ian Bruce Eichner. Mikhail and classmate Yinan Zhang received hands on legal and business training working for Eichner’s real estate development firm.

For the first five weeks, Mikhail worked with the development team, which exposed him to both real estate and finance through sitting in on meetings and partaking in research and writing projects. The last five weeks, Mikhail worked closely with Mike Merola, TCC’s general counsel.

“He was great,” Mikhail said of Merola. “I spent a lot of time drafting letters of intent for purchasing property, confidentiality agreements, partnership agreements, contracts, and operating agreements. It was interesting.”

Mikhail became aware of this opportunity in August last summer, prior to his 2L year, when he saw an online posting for the fellowship as an On Campus Interview.  He and Zhang wrote two-page essays on their interests in the position, with a specific focus on entrepreneurial spirit and interest in non-traditional career paths.  The next step was a phone interview before finding out they were going to be New York bound the following summer, beginning in June.

Despite no prior exposure to real estate, Mikhail certainly has an interest in real estate after his 10-week experience in New York.  “I didn’t really know anything about it before hand. Very little,” he said.  “(But) real estate in general is pretty exciting."

Although Mikhail said he did not work extremely closely with Mr. Eichner, he was very appreciative of the opportunity and did enjoy interacting with him throughout the summer. “He was very welcoming,” he said, noting they had the occasional lunch together and talked about a variety of things. 

While in New York, Mikhail and Zhang stayed in The Manhattan Club, one of TCC’s buildings, just a few blocks from Central Park and a short subway ride to the office each day. “New York’s exciting. There’s a lot going on. There’s always something to do.” Mikhail said. “It was tiring. You’d work all day and try to see the city afterwards and do something.”

For Mikhail, a lifelong soccer fan and player, the “coolest thing” he did in his free time was attend an international friendly soccer match at MetLife Stadium between Brazil and Argentina. Although Mikhail, a Brazil fan, was disappointed with the 4-3 Argentina victory, he said he had great seats and even witnessed a “hat trick” by Argentina’s Lionel Messi, perhaps the greatest player in soccer today.  Of course, Mikhail said he enjoyed the food in New York as well.

The 24-year-old was raised in Covington, Ky., where he graduated from Covington Catholic High School before attending Wake Forest University and ultimately earning a degree from the University of Kentucky.

Mikhail switched majors a few times before settling on an English major. It was during Mikhail’s studying for finals junior year at UK when a friend encouraged him to join him in taking a LSAT study course. “I said okay, and told my parents the next day I was going to law school,” Mikhail said.

This semester, Mikhail is carrying over his “entrepreneurial spirit” from this summer into the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, which he is “excited about,” he said. In his free time, Mikhail is likely playing sports of some kind – whether that is soccer, tennis, racquetball, basketball or intramural flag football at UC. 

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13