“I’m fortunate enough to work every day with my best friend,” says Kristina E. Wilson, partner in Simply Legal, a boutique firm with practice areas in corporate law, real estate, general counsel, international business transactions, compliance and government law, and employment law. Wilson and Maria Jose “MJ” Granados-Godoy first met and became friends in law school.
After earning her Juris Doctor, Wilson worked as associate/deputy general counsel for Dezer Development and later at a firm focusing on corporate and real estate matters located in Brickell. While at Dezer Development, Wilson managed a vast array of legal issues for more than 150 entities and joint ventures, participated in major real estate acquisitions and developments, and managed numerous complex business transactions. Wilson also has work experience in marketing, project management, and internal auditing with several large corporations.
Exercising her entrepreneurial spirit, Granados-Godoy founded her own law firm in 2009. The two stayed in touch and even worked a number of projects together over the years. Granados-Godoy has extensive experience assisting foreign and domestic investors in real estate acquisitions, leasing, management, sale of commercial and residential properties and has acted as closing and title agent for more than 300 residential, commercial and business acquisition transactions in the South Florida area.
Wilson says, “When I was ready to take the leap of faith and start my own practice, I knew partnering with MJ would be the perfect fit. We complement each other so well in what we do because we both have experience representing clients on different sides of the transaction, so together we have a holistic understanding and approach to a deal.”
The two joined forces and opened Simply Legal LLP in 2017 and the duo has also worked hard to hire the right staff to join their team. “We have an open door policy that allows us to work closely with our team. We enjoy what we do and the clients we serve, so it’s important that we have top-notch staff that can best serve our clients. There’s not a person on our staff I wouldn’t place in a conference room with any of our clients. We work as a team and we view ourselves as part of our clients’ team,” Wilson says.
The firm’s slogan “Where Law, Real Estate and Business Meet,” reflects the blend of legal needs that often occur in Miami. Real estate, whether acquiring or leasing property, obtaining licenses or zoning, is generally an important component of many of the business transactions we encounter.
We view being women attorneys as a strength. We’re unique. We hustle. We work hard and our work product speaks for itself.”
Additionally, one of the firm’s strong suits is the entrepreneurial and real-world business expertise of the founders. “We view being women attorneys as a strength. We’re unique. We hustle. We work hard and our work product speaks for itself,” Wilson says. Granados-Godoy says, “We grew up working in and helping our own families in their businesses, so we truly understand the practical needs of a business owner. I come from a family made up of brilliant entrepreneurs who inspired me to not only found a law firm straight out of law school, but also to help other business owners establish and protect their businesses.” Wilson also worked in the corporate world before becoming a lawyer and holds an MBA in finance. These skill sets allow the partners to think outside the box and craft better outcomes for their clients.
“When Kristina and I were discussing business names, we wanted to pick a name that reflected a philosophy important to us – keep it simple,” Granados-Godoy says. Their approach is to tailor their services to each client’s needs and budget so that each client can focus on his or her business. “Give us your legal problems so we can do what we do best and you can focus on what you do best: your business. We also provide legal services without resorting to legal jargon. We present material and our work in a way our clients understand,” Granados-Godoy says.
Another of the firm’s strength is the partners’ ability to serve not only as legal advisors, but also in consulting in other functional areas to help make their businesses run more efficiently, prevent legal issues from arising, streamline processes, minimize exposure, and to let them rest easy at night so they don’t have to focus time and energy on challenging and often confusing matters.
Client education is also a focus. The attorneys address a client’s immediate legal concern, but then they work to educate, train, and improve that clients’ business so they can be more profitable and see increased savings in the legal (and other) areas down the road.
“Our biggest challenge when it comes to building our practice is educating clients on why it’s worth making an initial investment in legal services at the beginning in order to avoid bigger headaches down the road. If they put in the resources now, they’ll see that benefit in their bottom line in the long run, but we understand that starting a business is hard, and resources are limited,” Wilson says.
Each partner agrees that a key to their success is an ability and a willingness to listen to client needs, which vary from client to client and from industry to industry. Wilson says, “We think like business owners.”
Some clients require in-depth and very detailed services while others need only broad due diligence focused on certain specific areas. The attorneys listen and learn what type and what level of service clients need and then strive to provide that and more. “We go above and beyond looking out for their interests. We stay within the scope of what the client wants, but give added value,” Wilson says.