HomeFrontpage NewsUnityBalancing Family, Law Practice, and Macedonian Heritage – An Interview with Kristina Ivtindzioski

Balancing Family, Law Practice, and Macedonian Heritage – An Interview with Kristina Ivtindzioski

This is the second of a series of interviews UMD is conducting with rising stars in the global Macedonian community.

Kristina C. Ivtindzioski, an attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, specializes in personal injury and immigration law. Leading up to her career as a solo practitioner, she graduated cum laude from Pace University School of Law, where she earned her Juris Doctor degree and Certificate of Concentration in International Law. During law school, she served as a student attorney at the John Jay Legal Services Immigration Clinic, where she represented indigent clients with various immigration issues.

After Kristina joined the law firm Davis Saperstein & Salomon, which specialized in complex trial litigation and personal injury. Later, she was recruited by the leading insurance defense firm Braff Harris & Sukoneck, where she managed litigation defense cases involving general liability, automobile negligence, product and premises liability, and insurance coverage disputes.

She is married to Goran Matlijoski, who was her longtime sweetheart, and is the proud mother of two remarkable daughters, named Milana and Valentina. They live in New Jersey where she grew up. Learn more about Kristina's work by clicking HERE.

Join us for a trip down Kristina’s life balancing family, including suffering a major immigration obstacle with her husband, a legal practice, and her Macedonian heritage.

“It is my goal to visit Macedonia with my husband and my two children every year. I want to give to them what my father gave to me – the gift of experiencing Macedonia.” – Kristina says.

UMD: What motivates you?

Kristina: I have two motivating factors. As to the first, I have an inherent need to help people. I know first-hand how terrifying it is to have an immigration crisis. In those circumstances, you most want an attorney who will treat you and your case with professionalism and care. I am determined to be that attorney for all of my clients. It is my goal to make each and every one of my clients feel as though they are my only case. This way, they feel safe and know they are being handled with care. It is so gratifying to help a client obtain a green card, for example, or recover money for their severe and permanent injuries.

In addition, my children motivate me. I want to set an example of strength, courage, and dedication for my daughters. I want them to understand that with hard work, perseverance and a dream, anything is possible.

UMD: Who is your role model and why?

Kristina: My father is my role model. My father came to the United States from Macedonia approximately 45 years ago. In Macedonia, he grew up and lived in a village where he was a farmer. He came from a family with minimal resources, had very little formal education, and barely spoke English. Yet, notwithstanding those hurdles, he came to the United States with my mother, seeking a better future for his wife and for his future children. He overcame so many obstacles and managed to be a success. His children, including my sisters, my brother, and me were his motivation. He worked hard every single day, without fail, so that he could give us a better life. He vowed that he would send each one of us through college, and he did. He vowed that he would support me through law school, and he did. He vowed that he would give us a happy upbringing, free from worry and stress, and he did. In my eyes, my father is an unparalleled man.

UMD: Tells us about your proudest achievement?

Kristina: Most memorably, I was selected from thousands of worldwide applicants to serve as an extern for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, located in The Hague, The Netherlands. There, I assisted my fellow team in the prosecution of war criminals, including infamous international leaders. Since I am fluent in English and Macedonian and can fluently read and write Cyrillic, I was able to utilize these multilingual abilities in my role at the Tribunal in addition to providing legal expertise.

On a personal note, I am also proud of the fact that I successfully petitioned for my husband to return to the United States after being removed to Macedonia and suffering a ten year bar of re-entry. At the time of deportation, my husband and I were newly engaged and had been dating for a decade prior to that time. One morning, I received the dreaded telephone call from my now husband, then fiancé, stating that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had captured him and his mother. This was such a devastating and heart-wrenching time for me. I was still in law school and mostly unfamiliar with how to deal with such complex immigration matters at the time. Nonetheless, I embarked on a mission to bring my husband back to the United States. After three long years of hard work, I successfully overcame his bar and my husband returned to the United States on Christmas Eve. In those same three years, I graduated law school, worked for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, passed three bar examinations, and found gainful employment.

UMD: How was your experience at ICTY, and would you consider going back to The Hague later in your career?

Kristina: It was a great honor to have worked at the ICTY. Akin to the Nuremberg trials that took place post-World War II, the ICTY has irreversibly changed the fabric of international humanitarian law. To be a player in that momentous role was a life-changing experience. Without hesitation, I would return to the ICTY. However, as an ad hoc tribunal, the ICTY is no longer in the trial phase of its work. Currently, it is dealing with appeals only. To that end, the ICTY is rarely accepting employees. Nonetheless, there are various other United Nations tribunals at other geographic locations, which have commenced to bring justice to war-ridden countries. I would absolutely consider a legal role in one of those tribunals later on in my career.

UMD: What are the things that give you most satisfaction in your work?

Kristina: Initially, when a client comes in for their first consultation, they are panicked, scared, stressed, overwhelmed, and lost. Typically, these clients are confronted with a serious immigration matter or are coping with severe injuries. During the course of the initial consultation, I notice that their panic, fear, stress, and sense of being overwhelmed and alone begin to dissipate. By the second consultation, it is obvious that those negative feelings are replaced by hope, confidence, trust and excitement.

I am so grateful to help my clients erase their fear and worry and replace those feelings with strength and hope. Each and every one of my clients has my full attention to their case. This makes them feel relieved. The best reward is when their legal situation has been resolved with success. This feeling of satisfaction is indescribable. I am honored to have the knowledge and experience coupled with inherent drive and passion to help people successfully deal with their most difficult legal times. So, to summarize, alleviating my clients’ worries during the course of the legal process and successfully resolving their matter is extremely gratifying to me.

UMD: How often do you travel to Macedonia and what is you favorite place to visit in Macedonia?

Kristina: As a child, my father took us to Macedonia almost every single summer. He wanted us to experience the culture and to understand where he came from. He succeeded.

During the period of my husband’s deportation, I visited Macedonia two times per year. It is my goal to visit Macedonia with my husband and my two children every year. I want to give to them what my father gave to me – the gift of experiencing Macedonia.

UMD: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Kristina: In ten years, I hope to have made a positive and dramatic difference in countless lives. Additionally, I anticipate that my practice will grow exponentially. I hope to emerge as an influential advocate and leader in the areas of immigration and personal injury law.

UMD: What made you decide to be a lawyer?

Kristina: Every since I can remember, it has been my goal to be a lawyer. I am convinced that I did not make the decision to be a lawyer, but rather, I was born to be a lawyer. Simply put, in light of my personality and character, to be a lawyer is my natural calling. Neither I, nor any of my loved ones, can picture me as anything but an attorney.

UMD: What advice can you give young Macedonians deciding on a career path in law, and on a career path in general?

Kristina: Being a lawyer is a very demanding and powerful profession. It is a profession where you hold people’s lives and destinies in your hands. In this respect, it is not to be taken lightly. However, it is also an extremely rewarding career. The feeling you get when your client receives his or her much overdue green card, or when you reunite a family that has not seen each other in several years, or when an accident victim receives just compensation so as to make them “whole,” is indescribable. I would advise the younger generations that, if it is your dream and passion to be a lawyer, go for it. You will never regret it.

I would also encourage the younger generation to set goals and dream big. Then, work as hard as you can to accomplish those goals so that you could live your big dream. Once you decide and are committed to success, you will achieve it. It is that simple. Just decide to be successful and you will be.

UMD: What factors did you consider in opening you own law firm?

Kristina: Certainly, when you own your own business, whatever business that may be, you will face certain challenges. For example, it is one thing to be a terrific lawyer, and it is quite another to be a savvy businessperson. There is a learning curve in this respect. However, I always knew that it was just a matter of time before I transformed my career and began operating as a solo practitioner. No obstacle, no matter how big, would have deterred me from opening my own firm. It has always been my dream.

UMD: In what ways have you managed to stay involved in the Macedonian community?

Kristina: It is extremely important to me to stay involved with the Macedonian community. For one, I regularly attend Sunday church masses, functions, and fundraisers. Additionally, I support fellow Macedonian businesses. I speak Macedonian to my daughters, and am in the process of enrolling my older daughter in Macedonian folklore dance school, so that she could learn Macedonian folklore dance and walk in the same footsteps as Goran and me. (Goran and Kristina danced for the Makedonka Macedonian Folk Dance Ensemble for many years)

UMD: How do you think the Macedonian community can best help Macedonia?

Kristina: In addition to supporting Macedonian businesses in the United States, we, as a community, need to support and promote Macedonian businesses in Macedonia. Macedonia is a diamond of a country, having some of the most breathtaking landscapes and owning such ancient history. Notwithstanding its beauty and history, the country is in desperate need of economic resurrection. We must endeavor to reintroduce financial wealth into the country. Once this occurs, the Macedonian people will have a new outlook on life and on their future.

UMD: How important do you think it is for members of the Macedonian community to stay connected and help each other get ahead?

Kristina: I cannot emphasize enough how vital I believe it is for the Macedonians to stay connected, support each other, and get ahead. We should be our biggest and grandest supporters. There is an impressive amount of Macedonian people in New Jersey. Considering this count, if we simply unite, we could make a difference. We could change lives. First, we could each help our businesses grow and reach grand milestones. Second, we could help those in other communities and truly differentiate ourselves as an influential group of people. Simply stated, the sky is the limit for how much good we could generate if we simply support each other and remain united.

UMD: Do you think the Macedonian community is close-knit in the USA, or can it come together and do a better job?

Kristina: Indeed, the Macedonian community in the USA, generally, or New Jersey, specifically, is close-knit. However, I do see room for improvement. For instance, the younger generations cannot communicate in the Macedonian language nearly as well as the people in its predecessor generations. We cannot lose the ability to communicate in Macedonian. It is so critical that we speak to our children in Macedonian, that we play traditional Macedonian music for them, that we take them to Macedonia where they could experience, for themselves, the beauty and depth of the historic, ancient country. If we do all of these things at a minimum, the Macedonian community in the USA will flourish.

UMD: Thank you Kristina for sharing with our audience more about your career, family, and your pride in our rich Macedonian heritage. We can just predict you will be going far in life, and wish you the very best.

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