On this week’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast, we speak with Carol Williams, Founder and CEO of Williams Immigration. Carol is a former Adjudications Officer at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and founded Williams Immigration to be able to offer personalized service to companies, employees, and families seeking legal counsel within the complex area of immigration law.
Carol knew she wanted to be a lawyer from a very young age and had this to say about it: “As a little kid, even though I didn’t know exactly what a lawyer did, I knew that they explained the legal process to their clients, and every night I would wonder if people that had been arrested really understood what was about to happen to them. So, I just put it in my head that I wanted to be that person to explain. I didn’t know whether they were guilty or innocent, but I just wanted to be that person who really kind of held their hand and just explained what was about to happen to them and guided them through that process.”
Even though Carol ultimately chose not to pursue a career in criminal law, she stayed true to her goal of helping people navigate complex legal systems. Today, she’s a successful immigration attorney—at a time when really good immigration attorneys are needed more than ever.
We chat about Carol’s journey to creating Williams Immigration, as well as:
- Why women have a unique perspective on working in immigration
- Being unabashedly honest and embracing your truest self
- Important qualities of a legal professional that can’t be taught
- Changes in immigration practice
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
- Carol’s Site
- Carol’s LinkedIn
- Williams Immigration Facebook
- Williams Immigration Twitter
- Williams Immisgration Youtube
- Carol’s Instagram
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcast. Our mission is to provide thought-provoking, powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable wealth-generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm so you can live your best life.
I’m your host, Davina Frederick, and I’m here today with Carol Williams, founder and CEO of Williams Immigration. Williams Immigration, founded by a former US CIS adjudications officer offers personalized service to companies, employees and families seeking legal counsel within the complex area of immigration law. Welcome, Carol. I’m so happy to finally have you on the podcast.
Carol Williams: Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.
Davina: Great, great. So why don’t you start out just telling us a little bit about your journey to creating Williams Immigration because I know that you have a really interesting story and sort of career path that’s very diverse in some of the jobs that you’ve had before you got to this point. So tell us about that.
A (Very) Early Start in Law
Carol: Sure. Well, I, you know, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was seven. Everything I did was to get me there.
Davina: Oh, wow. I wish I had known at such an early age. That’s great.
Carol: It was a blessing and a little bit of a curse. I was
Davina: How did you know that? How did, I’m interrupting you, but how did you know that at that age?
Carol: So I knew because whenever, so every night at dinner, my family and I, we would eat dinner together every night and the TV was always on kind of in the background. My dad loved the news. But the news was always on in the background and part of the news is what’s happening in, you know, in terms of crime or what have you.
And so I always wondered, even as a little kid, even though I didn’t know exactly what a lawyer did, I knew that they explained the process to their clients. And every night, I would wonder if people that had been arrested really understood what was about to happen to them. And so I just got it in my head that I wanted to be that person to explain.
I didn’t know whether they were guilty or innocent, that wasn’t my thing at the time, but I just wanted to be that person who really kind of held their hand and just explained what was about to happen to them and, you know, guided them through that process. So, you know, fast forward, I get to law school and I know that I want to do something in criminal law. And I hated my criminal law class. And then I took evidence, and I hated evidence even more. And I thought Wow, well, being a litigator and being in court all day and being a criminal lawyer is out.
Davina: I understand that.
Carol: Yeah. So then I kind of floundered for a little bit. You know, I’d gone from being seven years old into law school knowing that I wanted to do something in criminal law. So then I decided to just kind of take a pause, take a break, and I went to Mexico for the summer. After my second year, I took one class, it happened to be an immigration class. And it was taught by three clinicians, three law school clinicians. And it was probably the first practical class that I had and it was amazing and I loved every single second of it.
And it married kind of everything that I loved at the time and everything that I still love, which is, you know, getting to know people of different cultures from different places, getting to know about different places, you know, they’re, you know, at the time I was in Mexico, so there was an element of travel and I just, I honest to goodness fell in love of it. I’m back to law school, got myself into the immigration clinic and have never looked back. I’ve been doing immigration since I graduated.
Davina: Wow. That’s wonderful. What was your first job?
Carol: So my very first job out of law school, I will say back then when I graduated in 95, if you pretty much studied abroad, you guaranteed that you graduated unemployed, which I did. And so my first job was actually an immigration paralegal position. I knew that, I knew immigration was what I wanted to do. I knew if I took the other offers that I had, that, you know that I would, you know, that I managed to get after I graduated, and it was not an immigration, them I’d never wind my way back to immigration.
So instead, I took an immigration paralegal position and it has, that position was probably the most beneficial for my entire career. It really taught me how to work with clients, how to interact with other paralegals, how much work I could reasonably expect a paralegal to get done in a day. You know, how much time it should really take to get something done.
And it was just, you know, at the time, I was happy to have the job. It was absolutely in the practice area that I wanted. But I had no idea how amazing that experience would be on day one. I just, I had no idea and I had no idea how much I would draw from that experience over the years when working with other paralegals. I had no idea. So I’m always grateful that I had that.
Davina: I always envied people who have been paralegals before they went to law school because when you graduate from law school, you haven’t really learned anything practical, but, you know, like how to actually do the paperwork and where to file it and how to file it and what to do and all those things. And if you’ve been a paralegal, some of the most successful attorneys I know were paralegals first because they already knew the very practical application that they can then apply their lawyer thinking to and develop that, you know, strategic thinking, right? And so I can see where that was a hugely invaluable experience.
Carol: It was really, really amazing. You know, from, just from the ground floor, I really learned how to how to put the, just how to put the physical package together, how to look at the documentation and really how to think about the documents that were coming in the door. You know, and, you know, and part of my role as a paralegal was to go to the attorney and say, you know, I don’t think we have enough documentation here. Or, you know, I saw this in the document and it just doesn’t quite make sense. Is there something I’m missing? So, you know, it was also really just, it was a great learning tool. It was a really great learning experience. So I am always very appreciative of that experience.
Davina: And so your first attorney job, when did that come down the pipeline?
Carol: So that was about eight or nine months after I was a paralegal. And I was in a big firm, I was in a big, big law firm and I was working with an amazing team of lawyers and paralegals. On day one, the paralegals knew absolutely more than I did, but yet it was my job to supervise them, which I thought was uneven and I think it’s even funnier now. But I really worked with an incredible team of lawyers who, at the time, were all women.
And I thought at the time that that was so interesting and so very cool. And we were in a, no other practice group in our office was all women and or headed by a woman. So that was very interesting to learn what I consider to be some really key business lessons and some key legal lessons from other women. And that’s one of the things I really like about immigration is that there are many, many women who practice immigration law. And I think as a result, it is a much more collaborative and nurturing bar than
Davina: Why do you think that is? Why do you think you have more women in immigration?
Carol: You know, I’ve thought about this a lot over the years and the only thing I can really come up with is that I think that part of immigration is working with families. Some of it is working with folks that are in deportation, some of its working with asylum, some of it’s working with people that have just been horribly abused in their home country. And I just think that women are nurturers by nature and they are hand-holders by nature. And so I think it is a practice area that just really lends itself to women and who we are just instinctually.
Davina: Yeah, that makes sense.
Carol: And that is not to say that there are not amazing men that are out there that are practicing immigration because there are. I just knew that my first interaction, you know, in a big firm was with an all-female practice.
Davina: That’s really, I think that’s really a unique experience and really a highly beneficial experience for you to see that modeled, you know, to see women modeling the work that you do because there are so many practice areas where there are men that, you know, that are our mentors or they were working with or working for. And I used to work for a law firm before I became an attorney. I was in marketing and I worked for a law firm. And it was mostly what I call the white men over 50 club.
You know, that’s who the partners were. There were a few women but they were rare. And so, I do think that, and it was a real estate firm. It was a large real estate firm, they did commercial development work. I mean, they did everything but that was kind of where their bread and butter was, you know? So I think that’s a wonderful experience to have that model for you, to have such a strong community of women. So tell me from there, then how long were you there?
Carol: So I was there four, five, six-ish years. I was there for a while. And I have to say, I loved it. I really, really loved it. The associates were such a close group of people. And it was a smaller office. And so I am still in communication with many people from that office from, you know, from my time there.
And it was just, it was a really, it was just such a fun time. I mean, I remember distinctly driving back one time from vacation and I was driving back to the office that Monday morning and I thought, wow, I really enjoy going to work. Like I really, I mean, don’t get me wrong. Like, I love to vacation and I love getting on a plane and going somewhere. But I really enjoyed my time there. I really, really did.
Davina: Yeah, that’s wonderful. And so why did you leave?
A Journey of Self-Discovery
Carol: So I left because I took a year off. I took a little over a year off and just backpacked around the world. Yeah, it was a trip that I had initially wanted to do right after college. And shockingly, my parents refused to foot that bill. Like, you know, I don’t know why. And so, the, so this is my first, you know, my first attorney position right out of law school. So I don’t have any real concept of the market, per se.
I just knew that work was slowing down, you know, one month I think I billed like 60 or 80 hours. And at a big firm, that’s not a lot. You know, that’s usually like a week. So I knew that work was slowing down. I didn’t, you know, I didn’t really understand all of it. You know, and my boss just kept saying, you know, don’t worry, you know, this, it all happens in cycles. It’s fine.
But I started to get really antsy. You know, I had spent all this time working at such a fast pace that now we were like, slowed down so much. And then all the stars aligned. I had a conversation with a really good friend of mine and she was telling me how her best friend had just come back from a year of backpacking. And I said, Oh, tell me more about that. So she did. And then I decided, you know what, I want to do that. You know, I honestly want to do that. So I left there.
Davina: Did you have any fear about that? Did you have any fear of like, leaving a job because, you know, when you graduated, jobs were scarce? And then you had this job, did you have any sort of thought in your mind of, you know, gosh, but what if I leave this job and then there’s not one for me when I get back or anything like that? Or did you just, have you always had this kind of like things will work out attitude?
Carol: You know, I probably should have been worried. You know, like the sane person would have factored that into the decision making. And to be honest, that was never, never a worry. Never a worry. I just decided that it would all work out. Now, my mother was incredibly worried about it.
Davina: See, I would probably align with your mother. I’m so jealous of you for that though because I wish that I, you know, I look back especially, you know, my younger years and I think, gosh, there’s so many things that I probably should have done, but I was always the one who was, you know, no, we have to work. So I love that. I love that you did that.
Carol: I, again, I probably should have been a little worried about that. But honestly, I just, that never was a factor. I just said it will all work out on the back end. I don’t know how. I’m not going to worry about that right now.
Davina: Because I’m going backpacking. I’m not gonna worry about it.
Carol: Yeah, like I was really more concerned about the order of the continents that I was going to do. Like, yeah, I really was not worried about what was going to happen when I got back.
Davina: Yeah. So, what did you do?
Carol: So I quit my job and I strapped on a backpack and I was out of the country for a little over 12 months, and I literally did whatever I wanted. I went wherever the wind blew me, wherever I thought would be interesting and had an amazing time. Like, I honestly would meet people on a bus or in a hostel and, you know, we’d start talking and they would be telling me about the city that they just came from.
And I’m like, oh, where’s that? How far away is that? How do I go? Okay, and I would, you know, and I’d pick up and go there in the next two days and spent, you know, a day or three days or a week. So yeah, I just did whatever I wanted. It was a year of just complete and utter freedom as an adult, which I don’t think we do. I don’t think we are programmed to think that way in the States. We’re all so busy working, working working that we just don’t think to take, you know, a month off or, you know, year. Now granted, a year is a little bit extreme. But, you know, we don’t think like that here in the States.
Davina: Yeah. I would love it if we did.
Carol: Yeah, I mean, I’ve met so many people who are from Europe who, you know, routinely take a month off in the summer and just go. You know, they just, they choose a new country or a new city and they go. And I think it’s absolutely amazing.
Davina: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. So what did you do when he got back?
Carol: So when I got back, I called my old boss. I actually came in through California and my boss was in Virginia, and I said, Hey, I’m back in the country. I’d love to have lunch. Because I had kept in touch with her when I was on the road. And she said, Well, what are you doing for a job? I said, I don’t, I have no idea.
I eventually wound up at the same firm, just in a different city. So I wound up in Miami working for the same firm and was not at all ready to go back to work and I didn’t realize it. Like I just, I didn’t realize it, you know? My mind and my spirit and my soul was truly still backpacking. I was still, you know, I just, I wasn’t ready to work again. It was hard. It was really hard.
Davina: I feel that now some days. Just my soul doesn’t want to work today.
Carol: Yeah, and I wasn’t ready to go back to the pace, certainly back to the pace that I left. And so I actually wound up leaving that firm after a couple of months. And, you know, it really had zero to do with the firm and everything to do about the fact that I just wasn’t ready to step back into that pace. So I looked for, you know, so in my job search, I remember to this day, my interview with the new firm that I would eventually move to.
I remember we spent probably a good 10 minutes of my interview talking about my travel. And my then next boss would say, you know what, I like that. I like that you just did it, you know? And I wish I would have done it and I respect the fact that you did what you wanted to do. And so at the end of the interview, he said, you know, is there anything else that I should know about you?
And I said, You know what, yeah. You should know I’m not a morning person either. You know, so if you were the type of person that needs your associate here at 7:30 in the morning, you know, just so that you can see them in their seat. I said, I’m not the person for you. And he kind of looked at me like, I cannot believe she just said this. You know, and it’s fine. And he wound up hiring me and we are good friends to this day.
We work, so, I loved working with him. We worked so well together. And I honestly think part of why we always got along was because we both liked to travel. But I was so honest about who I was in that interview. And I think I was only able to be that honest because I had just spent a year by myself, you know? And I was just, I was so brutally honest. I mean, I walked out of there and I thought, Well, you know what, I was honest.
Davina: Did you shock yourself? You were like, I can’t believe I just said that.
Carol: You know, I kind of did but when I walked out, I was like, You know what, I was happy that I was so honest, you know? I just, I honestly was just like, Listen, I am not a morning person. I really am, you know, I remember telling him listen, if you want me in the office for a 7:30 meeting, I will make it happen. However, like, I will never just be here at 7:30 in the morning. I think that’s crazy. You know, but I did say, but on the back end, I happen to be a night owl, you know, so I do work pretty late, you know, into the evening or whatnot. And I honestly don’t know why he hired me.
Davina: I think we would all do a lot better in our lives if we were just honest about who we were and what we liked and what works for us and what doesn’t. But I don’t think that most people have that in them just say, you know, I’m gonna just be brutally honest and come what, you know, whatever comes, what comes it comes, you know? And where do you think that comes from for you? I mean, are your parents like that or one or the other them like that, or was there something that you saw growing up that made you just kind of that way?
Carol: So both of my parents are like that. They’re very much here’s who we are, like us or don’t like us, right? You know, so I always grew up with that sense of confidence. But I think knowing who you are at any given stage of life is also helpful because then I think that gives you the confidence to articulate that to other people.
And so, you know, so I’ve always been one to say things and to say who I am and to be who I am. But honestly, up until that interview, I was never that way at work, I guess. Like, I would have never done that in a prior interview. But I honestly think I had just spent a year with myself, you know? Like, I had spent a year backpacking by myself. So
Davina: You had incredible confidence at that point.
Carol: I had incredible confidence and I knew who I was. Like, in that part of my life, I knew exactly who I was. There were no doubts, there were no questions. So when you say to me, is there anything else I should know? You know, yeah, I have a few things you should know about me.
Davina: Let me pull out my list.
Carol: Yeah. And I, you know, that’s like, that’s how my relationship with that particular supervisor was the entire time. Our relationship has always been like that. You know, he’s always said, you know, there was, so when I was on vacation, he’d say where are you going? And I was like, Well, I’m not telling you. He says what do you mean you’re not telling me? I’m just like I’m not telling you. It’s like you don’t need to know where I’m going on vacation. I said I’m going on vacation to rest and recharge and I will be back.
I said you won’t have to do anything on my cases. I promise you that. He says, well, I need an emergency number. I said no, you don’t get one. And then never did he have to deal with my cases while I was gone. Never was there an emergency, you know? And so again, you know, so he and I have just, we just had a really good rapport. But I honestly think it was because I was so honest with him day on one.
Davina: I think about that, now, you know and having hired people and how much more beneficial it would be if people would be honest because one of the things I really encourage people to do is hire based on their core values, to really assessing and knowing what your core values are and what our deal breakers for you and what you, you know, what you require and those things.
And when we find people working for us who are not, you know, that we’re not satisfied with, it’s usually because there’s some misalignment with what we value and what they value. And it would be so much easier if people just came right out and said, you know, but I think a lot of times people looking for jobs are just so in a place of I’ve got to get this job, and people hiring often are in a place of I just need somebody you know?
Carol: Absolutely. Absolutely. I have, you know, when I’ve been looking to hire people, I, you know, at first it was just okay, I just need a butt in a seat. Like, I don’t care who it is, I just need someone to take instruction and, you know, and just make it happen. And that did not work, ever, right? You know, but when I sat down and really thought about what I found important and what I wanted to convey with my firm that has my name on it, that is a reflection of me, it became much easier.
You know, one of the things that is important to me is that when someone reaches out to me, that they understand that I’m a no-judgment zone, you know? That you may have stayed past your visa card, you know, 12 days, 20 days, 20 years, you know? But for me to be able to help you, I need you to trust that I’m not going to sit in judgment of why you made the decisions that you made.
You know, I need the facts and I need to know why you made these decisions, you know, but you’re never going to tell me that and I’m never going to be able to help you if you fear that I am sitting in judgment of you, you know? If you fear that I’m sitting here like, well that was a dumb decision. Why’d you do that? I never would have done that. You know, like, you’ll never, ever trust me and we’ll never be able to work together, you know? I need,
Davina: I could see where that’s very powerful. Yeah.
Carol: Right? So it’s just, it’s so important to me that people understand that, you know, that when you come to my firm that, you know, that has my name, that you will not encounter anybody that you feel is judging you.
Davina: And, you know, don’t you imagine that that’s the way a lot of clients feel with attorneys? You know, just in general, the feeling people have about attorneys.
Carol: I think our clients are so busy judging themselves and worried about what the legal system will do to them that they’re terrified, right? I mean, they’re scared. But, you know, whether it’s, whether you have a criminal issue, whether you have a personal injury issue, we will listen. I love binge-watching court shows, right?
Like, I love it to death. And there’s always a part of those shows where people see someone on cross-examination on the witness stand and they’re like, why did you do this? Don’t you think about this? You know, and people think that that’s what really happens, right? And so for a lot of people, if I am their very first interaction with a lawyer and all they have in their mind is what happens on television, I need to educate them to say this is not what happens here, you know? Your process will look 1000 times different.
You know, and so that’s really important to me. You know, so I have made that very clear and I started as a suggestion of a couple different people of actually putting that in my job ad. Putting that out there so that if you were 100% turned off by what you read and you don’t apply, that’s fine because he would not be a good fit anyway.
If you are 100% looking at that like, that’s amazing. I want to be part of that. Then you apply, right? So we know there’s already a base level of understanding about how I think about things and my approach to things. Now, we may not ultimately agree on other things, right? But there are some foundational things that I don’t think can be taught.
Davina: Exactly, exactly. So, tell me what you think some of those things are.
Be Compassionate, Be Empathetic, Abstain From Judgement
Carol: So I think there is being compassionate, being empathetic and not judging people. You know, letting people get their story out. Some of my clients have been in the US undocumented for years. And it’s a fine balance I have found between getting them to talk to me about the decisions that they made, you know, let’s say 20 years ago, you know, because at some point, there was a decision that was made to stay in the US past your authorized time. That’s a decision, right?
And some clients made that decision and they absolutely stand by that decision. But they’ve been living a lie for so many years and they’re so, the lie is now on autopilot. And it is very jarring when someone takes you off of autopilot and says, oh, okay, I hear what you’re saying but there’s more there.
That’s where we need to talk about. You know, I’ve had clients disappear on me for months, months at a time. And I’ve never, I’ve not taken it personally, I’ve not hounded them because I know that it takes a lot of courage to come and even have a conversation with me. And it takes a lot of courage to have a second and third and fourth and fifth conversation, that I’m never going to get the full scope of things in 30 minutes. And sometimes that brings up a lot of emotion, but they need to then kind of sit with it.
You know, and then they’ll come back and they, you know, they come back and they’re so so apologetic and I’m like Listen, you don’t have to apologize. I’m not going anywhere. Your case is still open, you know, it’s fine. You know, let’s have another conversation, let’s move forward. You know, and I’ve had clients in the past tell me that they appreciated that I didn’t just push, but I didn’t say no, no, no, I, you know, I need you to get over this and I need to get this case filed in the next two weeks.
No, I just, you know, like, take your time. This is your life. You know, so I need people that work with me that are empathetic and that are caring. And, you know, and that doesn’t mean that we don’t get the information that we need. It just means that you understand that they’re going through a lot and that, you know, maybe for the next two weeks, they just can’t fill out this questionnaire.
They just don’t have it in them. Or, you know, I also work with businesses a lot. And if I’m working with the Vice President of human resources, here, she doesn’t have 30 minutes to sit on the phone with me and just, you know, and just yak, right? So who they need empathy as well, right? They have 1001 things on their desk. I am probably number 65 on the list, but you know, of the hundred things that they have to get through in one day. They need someone that understands their world as well, you know?
And so, some of my corporate clients, I never had a personal conversation with them ever, you know, but I understand it’s not personal, it is just that they have so much to do. You know, and it’s their job internally to make sure that everybody is doing what they should be doing in order to get a candidate, you know, into the country on time on their visa, and that that one candidate has so many other moving pieces to the puzzle besides their visa.
You know, they’re worried about getting their kid in school, they’re worried about getting their furniture moved, they’re worried about, you know, finding an apartment or a house, they’re worried about the neighborhood, they’re worried about starting a new job, they’re worried about, you know, potentially a spouse and whether or not that spouse can work.
And that all falls on my HR contact. So it’s never personal that they don’t want to sit on the phone and, you know, yak away for 30 minutes. They’ve got so much to do. You know, so having, you know, having a team that understands that each client may need something a little bit different, and what one client needed on Monday, they may need something completely different on Friday.
You know, so I need a team that is nimble, that is willing to say, oh, okay, you’re having a really bad week. Okay, I get it. I still need this information, but I get it. Like, you’re just having a really bad week. Or, you know, you’re really nervous, you know, or when the phone starts ringing off the hook because they heard something in the news, right? I need a team whose reaction isn’t ugh, the phone’s ringing all day. I need a team that’s gonna be like alight, the phone just gonna ring today.
Davina: Yeah. There’s nothing worse than having somebody on your team who’s unenthusiastic about your clients and prospective clients calling. Because that’s kind of like what we do here. I was going to ask you how does this, thinking about other women law firm owners who may be listening to this going, you know, how does that work in terms of getting business and keeping money and revenue flowing and things like that?
You know, like, it’s the compassion, you have to absolutely have compassion for your clients and your prospective clients who are coming and sharing their story with you no matter what area of practice you’re in. But the flip side of that is we also got to eat and so we’re trying to sign those clients up and get moving on their cases and things like that. What kinds of, what has been your experience with that?
How Carol Uses Software in Her Practice
Carol: So I use software to keep things moving. And the majority of my clients are pretty tech-savvy. And I have been virtual since the inception of my firm. So that also helps me be able to work from anywhere. So that piece of it is nice. But for my firm, it’s really sort of meeting a client where they are. But that being said, the majority of my clients are also pretty tech-savvy.
So they have a client portal if in fact they want access to it. Some are like, No, I don’t need another thing in my life to check. I’m like that’s fine. You know, so I do quite a bit via email with my clients. We do scheduled calls. My clients are given a link where if they want to have, you know, sort of a lengthier conversation that’s more than, you know, maybe five minutes, they can schedule a call.
And that eliminates the back and forth of Well, are you free Tuesday at one or are you free Tuesday at, you know, whatever. So that actually makes it a lot more streamlined. So I tend to use technology to help streamline the processes of the firm, but also streamline things for my clients. And whenever I’m looking at a new piece of software, I test it as if I am the client and the attorney.
So I do two separate kind of, look, I have a new piece of software. Because it’s a piece of software works great for me, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to work really great for my clients. And if it doesn’t work, if I don’t think it is easy for the client, regardless of whether I think it’s great for me, I’m not going to use it.
Davina: Right. I was gonna ask you do you have, how does it, do you ever have any feelings of pressure or concern about I need to close this client? I need to get this person on board. Because you said sometimes people will come to you, they’ll meet with you, and then they’ll disappear and then they’ll come back months later.
But, you know, that, I guess maybe that’s what I was thinking in terms of, you know, so many people have this idea of I need to close every client that comes in because I have revenue goals and I need to make those goals. I got, light bills to pay and paychecks to pay and those kinds of things. So how do you deal with that sort of, because you have a different philosophy on that?
Carol: So when I say that clients, though, you know, so generally folks will retain me and then after they retain me, they will disappear because it becomes like a little bit too emotional or what have you. And I think being true to who I am and not pressuring people to come back is one of the reasons why current and former clients refer their friends and family to me. So I don’t put my revenue goals over their feelings of comfort. Certainly, I have revenue goals, right? Certainly, I have revenue goals, but there would be no revenue if I pushed clients beyond where they were comfortable to a breaking point, right?
I just, there would be no revenue. So, you know, I definitely believe in networking. I definitely believe in building relationships with relationship partners, whether those partners be attorneys or non-attorneys, but it’s not always about the revenue goals. I mean, again, I absolutely have revenue goals but it is, you know, when I am on the phone with someone, I’m not thinking about the revenue goal, I’m thinking about how can I help them?
Davina: Yeah, I mean, I just think it’s interesting because that say, I’m glad that you’re sharing your way of looking at it and your philosophy because whether people are even thinking about revenue goals, you know, that’s a term I use, right? But whether people are thinking about revenue goals, or just like, I’ve got to pay, I got bills to pay, right?
I need to get this client closed. I’ve got bills to pay. And it’s something that I don’t think a lot of people stop and really examine the experience for the client when they have it. So it tends to either swing one way or the other. You either have a lot of attorneys are, particularly I find women law firm owners are swinging to the point where they’re so concerned about he client that they buy into money stories, they don’t stick to their fees.
They’re doing things, you know, for free for people when they really can’t afford to or cutting their fees because they have such compassion and they’re very empathic people. Or you have maybe the other direction, where you have people who are like, you know, this is a business and this is the way it is. And it’s almost like the client experience isn’t as important. It’s more the focus on I can solve their legal problem and they just need to pay me and I’ll solve a problem, right?
So that’s why I’m kind of delving into this with you because that’s the piece that I think it’s one of the things I hear so many attorneys talking about is in some groups and forums, you’ll see attorneys complaining about their clients. And when I talk with you, I know that you’re the kind of person where you’re a very understanding person and a very compassionate person and you really sort of, you know, put yourself in their shoes as much as you can do that and say, you know, I get we all have a lot going on in our lives.
And this is something that, this is their situation and they’re going to have to work through it at their own time. And then there’s, you know, but when clients are meeting with you, there is a, there’s also you, the business person, you know, looking at it. And so I was just, you know, I just like hearing your thoughts on that and kind of how that, how you came to that. But even from the beginning, now, we know you’re the kind of person who you kind of are like, Hey, man, it’s all gonna work out.
Carol: Yeah, I mean, there is a balance to be had for sure. But I also very much believe and live that one, it will work out some way somehow, right? And two, that we live in a very abundant world, that everything that we need, want and desire is out there for us. It is already earmarked for us. So if you decide as a potential client that I’m not the right firm for you, you’re probably right for whatever reason you think, right? Because in my way of looking at it, you weren’t supposed to be my client.
You were supposed to be another attorney’s client. So I really believe in a sense of an abundance out there. And, you know, again, I have revenue goals. I definitely look at the bank account. You know, bills are definitely there and they have to be paid and I definitely think about it. But I guess I don’t worry that tomorrow, I’m going to have to close up shop because I know that while today may be a rough day like we all have them or the numbers may not be exactly what I want them to be today doesn’t mean that I won’t have more revenue in the door.
Davina: Right, right. I love that. I love that philosophy because I believe the same thing. I very much believe that we, that if I have someone who chooses not to work with me, then I believe that that is probably good for both of us. Like, it’s going to work out that it’s going to be a good decision for both of us, you know? That they’re going to find what they need and I probably wouldn’t have been very satisfied with the experience either because there’s so much about our work where the satisfaction goes beyond the money, right?
And I also know that I also have this thought that, you know, nature abhors a vacuum, and if there’s a vacuum, it will fill it. So if I’ve not taken on the wrong client, then that leaves room for the right client to show up and work with me. Yeah. So that I, yeah, that’s the sense I was getting from you. And that’s kind of what I wanted to, you know, get you to share because I feel like that’s very powerful. And I think a lot of people could benefit from hearing, you know, how that works for you, you know?
Carol: Yeah. And I will say, I didn’t, I certainly didn’t start my firm thinking like this. You know, this has been, it’s been an evolution. You know, but it is where I am today. And I am happy that I’m here today. But yeah, I mean, I just everything will work out. And I believe that everything happens for a reason. Everything happens for a reason.
Davina: Right. Right. So talk to me, we’re gonna shift gears a little bit. I want to know, talk to me about some of the changes that we’ve seen in immigration. I know we’ve had a lot in the last few years. Are there some that really stand out to you that has really changed the practice of immigration or maybe the impact that it’s had on people who want to work here in the country who want to come to the country, who want to start businesses here or hire people from other countries. Talk to me a little bit about that and what your experience has been, what your thoughts are on that.
Recent Changes in Immigration Policy
Carol: Sure. So I’ve been practicing for a little over 20 years. And with our current White House administration, it is the first time since I’ve been practicing that I have experienced so many policy shifts in such a short period of time. And the policy shift has been to try to limit people coming into the US. And so, that has impacted clients. Some of my business clients have scaled back on candidates that are currently outside of the US.
Some of my clients have said that I don’t care. This is the candidate and I want them. Let’s make it happen. And I’m like, great, we can do that. But I do see that some of my clients are a little bit more hesitant. I work with a fair amount of clients that have offices overseas. So they are typically in the camp that’s like, Listen, here’s the candidate I want, boom, let’s just make it happen. I have found that some of my smaller businesses, not that they scaled back, but I’m gonna say they’re just a little bit more calculated.
They put in probably a little bit more thought than maybe they would have six years ago. I have found that my family-based clients, so those folks that are looking to get green cards for their family members or even apply for citizenship, some of them are more anxious to start their process now so that they are shielded from deportation, so that they finally come out from the shadows and stop living in a cash society and, you know, are really kind of excited to start their process.
Like, so for some of my clients, this White House administration has been the push that they’ve said that they needed. That they were pushed to such a sense of being uncomfortable in their daily lives that they finally have said alright, now is the time for me to take that next step and to fix this and to go talk to an attorney and to then pull the trigger and find the agreement and, you know.
So I’ve seen it really kind of all over the map. I think people are somewhat more concerned. The raids on employers have certainly gone up, you know, so we see the big raids in the news and we see that what a company is raided, it absolutely impacts the employees who may be picked up and placed into deportation proceedings. What we don’t see a lot on the news is that that employer also has consequences. So, you know, honestly, we are, as immigration lawyers, we are busy. I think it’s just a different kind of busy.
Now I think we spend a lot of our time pushing back against the decisions that we’re getting. More and more, I’m seeing my colleagues go to federal court and fight. None of my clients thus far, luckily, have had to go that far. But I’m definitely seeing that with some of my other colleagues. You know, and there’s a sense of worry, but also a sense of profound determination to move forward, which I think is just amazing to see and I feel so lucky to be a part of that for my client. Just a profound desire to move forward.
Davina: Yeah, I love that. I love that. Well, Carol, we are going to need to wrap up here in just a minute. But before we do, I just want a last thought from you. If a lot of the people listening to this podcast or other women law firm owners, and I know you’ve been very successful in your practice running a virtual practice now since, when did you start your practice?
Davina: 2013. And 20 years experience in the business. So tell me what, if you had like one great lesson that you’ve learned from your experience in having your own law firm and serving clients or maybe a piece of advice you would have for them, what would that be?
Carol: I would say be true to who you are, and what works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa.
Davina: Yeah, yeah. I couldn’t agree more. So thanks so much for being here. Tell us how we can find out more about you and Williams Immigration if we want to reach out and connect with you.
Carol: Sure. So I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and my handle on all three of those is @usavisaguru. So USAVISAGURU. My YouTube channel is, if you search for Williams Immigration, you will find me there. And my website is clwimmigration.com. And then I’m also on LinkedIn under my government name, Carol Williams.
Davina: Great. Great. Well, thanks so much for being here, Carol. It has been such a pleasure. I really enjoyed it. I could probably talk with you for another hour, but we need to end so thanks so much for being here today.
Carol: Thank you for having me. I really, really appreciate it. It’s been wonderful.