Seventeen years ago at the age of 25, Alexander Shaknes landed in New York City with no concept of American litigation. And as an �migr� from the former Soviet Union — one of some 60,000 who arrived in the United States that year — he scarcely spoke a word of English.

As for the profession he would come to pursue, “I had no idea what lawyers even do,” Shaknes recollected in a recent interview.

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