Grant Gisondo: Calming the Volatile Waters of Family Law

by Susan Cushing

There’s nothing typical about board certified marital and family law attorney Grant Gisondo. Words like unique or exceptional might sound superfluous, but even the way he discovered his life’s passion is a rather unusual story.

Like many new college graduates Gisondo was not fully drawn to any particular occupation. However, never one to be idle he filled his days working for various law firms in a variety of capacities including runner and paralegal.

Some might call it destiny, but Gisondo considers it a pivotal moment in his life the day he walked into the middle of a family law trial. Compelled by the passionate emotions and almost overly dramatic impact every aspect had on the clients on each side of the aisle he was immediately drawn in. Here was real life, everyday drama that impacted the lives of regular people.

According to Gisondo he was hooked. “It was at that trial that I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Working for various family law firms provided Gisondo a front row seat to observe the inner workings and have extensive contact with clients in this highly specialized area of the law.

“I spoke with the clients a lot,” he says, “and I saw their all too frequent frustrations. I felt compassion for them as they struggled and thought to myself, ‘I could do this better. I could make these clients happier.’ In my mind, I was deducting anything negative I observed but absorbed all the good things and that became my goal.”

My parents were very hardworking, career-oriented while at the same time very present and loving. I had a great childhood. Both my parents worked full-time their whole lives.

Law School

For most, law school is an arduous and frequently grueling time in their lives. For Gisondo, it was paradise. He thrived even though his trek to class every day meant rising before dawn to make the hour-and-a-half drive from his home in Palm Beach Gardens to Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center in Davie, Florida.

“It made me realize how determined I was,” he says candidly. “I always had an 8:00 or 8:30 morning class. I would wake up early, be in class all day, and then drive the hour-and-a-half back home and study most of the night.

“It worked for me, the self-determination had to start the minute I opened my eyes,” he continues. “I always felt that if you ease into your day, wake up, have a cup of coffee, have breakfast, if you begin your day too slow, you’re never revving up to do what you must do. My warmup was wake up, jump in the shower and get out the door. I’d be on the road by 5:30 or 6:00. And I loved it!”

On days when he didn’t have class, he could be found in a courtroom fully enthralled, taking mental notes and soaking up every detail.

It’s a pace and work ethic that has remained a constant in his life and one that he credits his parents and wife for inspiring and supporting.

Family

“My parents were very hardworking, career-oriented while at the same time very present and loving. I had a great childhood. Both my parents worked full-time their whole lives,” he says. “And then of course my wife, while I was going to school full-time, she was working to support us and maintain our lives. We had a home at that time, a mortgage, and suddenly I announced, ‘Hey, I’m not going to be working any more I’m going to law school.’ We definitely had some tough years financially.”

Indirectly, it was his devotion to his family that eventually led Gisondo to open his own firm.

“I was working at a large civil litigation law firm,” he says, “knowing that I was always going to practice family law because that’s where my heart was. I had begun taking a few family law cases and doing quite well with it and then went on a leave when my son was born. When I came back, I was essentially informed that the firm was downsizing and that if I wanted to continue to do family law, I was free to do it on my own.”

It wasn’t an auspicious return. At that time, the young lawyer had a new home, a new car, a new baby, and a newly minted stay-at-home wife.

“Quite frankly, I was so pissed about it that I knew I was going to do it 100 percent,” he says. “The large firm did help, though; they allowed me to rent space from them for a few months until things starting moving. I always did appreciate their graciousness.”

Serendipitously, it turned out to be the birth of what is now one of the fastest growing family law practices in the state.

Lemons into Lemonade

While it may be a trite saying, it’s one that bears up. When someone can convert a negative into something amazing, it’s truly worth noting. That’s exactly what Gisondo did. Taking only his long-time paralegal, Amy Mitchell, it might have been a scene worthy of the movie Jerry Maguire. With the same drive, determination, and passion for his work that made law school such an incredible experience, he established The Law Offices of Grant Gisondo PA.

As with everything in his life, Gisondo proceeded with commitment and dedication reflected in his mission statement.

“We are a guiding light through even the darkest of situations which result in solutions. I provide clients going through a tough time with a light at the end of the tunnel. I counsel clients about good decision making in both their emotional and financial futures.

“I started with four clients and Amy, and we just grew it,” he continues. “We spoke to the Legal Aid Society and took cases wherever we could find them, hoping we could grow and we did. In fact, we’ve nearly doubled in size each year.”

Best of Times, Worst of Times

As every attorney knows there are highs and lows. Great clients, and challenging ones. But through all the ups and downs Gisondo has never lost his passion to help and counsel those in the throes of some of the most emotional experiences of their lives.

“When a client hires you, they have a million questions,” he says. “They don’t know if they can trust you, they are skeptical of the legal system, they have no idea what the next year, two years, five years looks like. You know, family law is a home problem and when that person sits across from you, they feel lost. Everything in their life is about to change. Their relationship with their kids is changing. Their relationship with their spouse is changing. The home their living in might not be there anymore. Everything is changing and they have no idea what to do.

“But then, when the case is over, whether it be a settlement or a trial, you see that calmness and sense of ‘Wow, I made it through’ that’s really the reward that I get. Occasionally, I’ll run into a client three or four years later and they express to me, ‘You were right, I really am OK.’”

Even after all these years, Gisondo is sensitive to the nature of his work. His compassion goes a long way in helping these people bridge their lives and be able to continue.

When asked about the challenges of being a family law attorney, he smiles and says, “While I can be as sympathetic and compassionate as I am toward my clients, I’m always mindful to not cross that line to where I adopt their problems as my own. I am a passionate advocate, but it helps no one if I get too emotionally involved. I believe when a lawyer gets in too deep with a client, they lose their ability to do their job and they’re really no different than the client.

“Lawyers shouldn’t be angry at the other party,” he continues. “They should be advocates for what their clients want while at the same time maintaining their professionalism. Our job is to help calm the situation not fueling it.”

Law Offices of Grant J. Gisondo, P.A.

500 Village Square Crossing #103
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
561-530-4568
gisondolaw.com

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