Attorney at Law Magazine Jacksonville Publisher Tom Brady sat down with Giselle Carson to discuss her career and what she hopes to accomplish in the future.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
Carson: I’m passionate about health and helping others. I was a physical therapist before becoming an attorney. As a therapist, I was able to make a difference in my patients’ health and lives. They came to me after a total hip replacement or a stroke. We sat down, developed a plan and when they were discharged, they had achieved their goals. And that’s a powerful and uplifting feeling.
I decided to become a lawyer because I wanted to make a difference on a larger scale while continuing to do something that I enjoyed and was passionate about. As a business immigration attorney, I use my passion and experience in immigration (I’m a two-time immigrant – born in Cuba and immigrated to Canada and the United States) to guide employers and foreign nationals through the complexities of immigration law.
I am very proud to be able to say that I’ve helped hundreds of employers and talented immigrants to develop a plan, decide what work visa is best for them and make that plan become reality.
AALM: What was the greatest lesson you learned in law school?
Carson: We are responsible for our own learning and successes. I worked very hard while at Florida Coastal School of Law and had the honor of graduating first in my class. This honor was not by chance. It was the result of going the extra mile, not giving up, having a plan of action and developing relationships.
At Coastal, the doors of my professors, deans and classmates were always open. I received guidance, mentorship and support throughout my time there and to this day. My peers and professors had diverse backgrounds and experiences which made the learning even more real and interesting. Many of my peers where also second career professionals with families and other commitments. We were focused on getting a great education and being the best lawyers we could be.
The support did not end when I graduated from law school. The backing of my former professors, deans and school peers has been invaluable throughout my law career. I’m thankful to many but would like to specially recognize Judge Corrigan, Judge Flower, President Stone, Dean DeVito, Sarah Sullivan and Ericka Curran.
AALM: What experiences have taught you the most?
Carson: Serving as the Jacksonville Bar Association (JBA) president this past year while also maintaining happy clients, a successful immigration practice, active community involvement and training for an Ironman triathlon and the Boston Marathon have taught me a lot about being productive, determined and decisive. It has also reinforced the importance of managing my energy and resources and making time to exercise and recharge.
Every day, I plan for what I need and want to get done. I focus on the tasks and minimize the interruptions. I prioritize, organize and delegate. I hold myself accountable to my goals and also hold others more accountable.
To be and do the best I can, I start my day the night before with planning. I wake up and kick-start the day with exercise. This allows me to get more done, have more energy and stay energized for all the activities to come.
I’ve learned to visualize and experience the future I want to achieve. As JBA president, there were several things I envisioned accomplishing, such as increasing membership to over 2,000 and writing a weekly president’s message to keep members informed and engaged. At times, I doubted these goals would become reality; but, with persistence, teamwork and focus, they got accomplished.
AALM: What first drew you to your firm? Tell us about your role there.
Carson: Because of my background in physical therapy, I was attracted to Marks Gray’s strong medical litigation team and the firm’s outstanding and long-standing reputation for excellent legal work and community engagement. I started my legal career at Marks Gray under the mentorship of great lawyers, including Jep Barbour, Jerry Weedon and Allison Hauser.
As I practiced and learned about the needs of our community and clients, I realized that many of our clients, community businesses and talented foreigners lacked access to a local business immigration attorney. I decided to develop a niche practice to fill this gap.
I studied successful immigration practices, learned from other immigration attorneys, took many immigration law seminars, wrote articles about what I was learning and developed and implemented an immigration business practice building plan. With passion and persistence, I have developed a fulfilling immigration practice and an amazing team. I’m proud to be a local go-to business immigration attorney and of my contributions to my firm, our community and our clients.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future?
Carson: Many speak about writing a book and I have been one of them for a while. Over the last year, I have made the commitment to gradually work at it and I am almost at the publishing stage. This first book is titled, “Beyond the H-1B: A Guide to Work Visa Options for Employers, Foreign Nationals and Graduating Students.”
I wrote the book to educate readers and my clients about the most commonly used work visas under U.S. immigration law, including the H-1B and beyond. Please stay tuned for additional information and previews of this book.