Today's Notable Young Professional is a dream-starter, using her expertise, knowledge and transparency to help others start a new life and fulfill their goals. How, you ask? Here's an inside look into Marisa Feil's professional life and the inspiration behind it...
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I have been working in the field of Canadian immigration and successfully helping people come to Canada for over five years, even before becoming a member of the Barreau du Quebec. As the supervising attorney at FWCanada, I manage day-to-day operations of the firm, including marketing, and our website, canadianimmigration.net, in addition to overseeing quality control for every file we submit. I liaise regularly with federal and provincial offices on behalf of clients and have been asked to contribute my expertise to legal volumes and conferences across California.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a lawyer. The decision to open a Canadian immigration law practice in May of 2011 was born from my desire to provide high quality legal services in an effective and honest manner, ultimately providing greater transparency to prospective immigrants. After experiencing working at one of the larger Canadian immigration firms, I realized that there was a need for a different type of firm. I wanted to be part of a law firm that would surpass the quality of service offered by larger Canadian immigration firms. Some Canadian immigration law firms are too big to give a client's visa application file the attention it requires, or so small that they lack crucial expertise. We can be attentive, forward thinking and collaborate to find the best opportunities for clients and give them the best chance at achieving their Canadian immigration goals.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of my job is being able to be a lawyer who advocates for clients positively, when winning means all parties benefit. At the end of the day, when I win a case, everybody wins; my clients get to pursue a new life or a dream job and Canada gets fresh, innovative minds coming to work for a better collective.
As for my challenges, individuals across the globe have limited access to truly experienced professionals who can help them immigrate to Canada. While I am not always in the position to have face time with my clients abroad, I am able to offer people around the world high quality representation through the tools and systems that I have implemented. Via the Internet, phone, and even regular mail, I am able to offer services that are as personalized as those they would receive sitting next to me in an office.
Naturally, working almost exclusively online and remotely presents challenges to the business as well. The promise of a new life in Canada strongly motivates many people to leave their homes for a better future. Unfortunately, a plethora of lawyers and self-appointed “professionals” have used the Internet as a means to pray on these peoples’ hope and continue to defraud countless applicants every year. Regardless of my intentions and professional guarantees, many individuals remain understandably skeptical when requested to transfer money for services rendered halfway across the world to a person they have never met. In order to assuage their concerns and allow clients to feel secure about our services and payment methods, I believe that it is crucial for me to be open about my knowledge, success and methodologies. Furthermore, it is imperative for my clients to have direct access to me; the main representative in their journey to a better life for their family.
In addition to the hurdle that distance provides, an important cultural divide affects my standing in many foreign markets. Many communities outside the Western world continue to subscribe to prejudices of a male-dominated society, both professionally and at home. While gender does not matter to my clients in North America, it remains a major factor in gaining the respect and confidence of many of my more distant potential clients. This makes the distance between my clients and me all the more problematic. I cannot change the cultural identity of other nations, nor is that my aim. Similarly to the way I handle skepticism about the credibility of my online services, I turn my gender into an afterthought of potential clients by presenting my process and achievements in the field of immigration in an honest and open manner. This transparency is often a successful approach for pushing preconceived notions to the side, as the applicants see how knowledgeable, honest, and dedicated I am in helping them work towards a better future.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I plan to continue expanding my client base and global reach by participating in many more conferences, webinars, podcasts and written publications. I plan on growing my business into the online one-stop-shop for all Canadian immigration applications/resources and establishing myself as the prominent authority on Canadian Immigration.
What does success look like to you?
I choose to look at success as a whole – meaning that I link successes in the different areas of my life, it’s not just financial or work-related. I want to achieve goals in my personal life, be happy, and healthy. It’s all related.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
So far in my young career, memorable milestones are related to the recognition that I have received for my hard work and expertise. Being invited to speak at conferences in the United States about Canadian immigration, as well as being asked to contribute chapters to legal volumes, have been amazing successes.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
For other young professionals or recent graduates, I wouldn’t discount the importance of keeping up a good work ethic. Too often I meet people who believe that they should be CEOs and Senior Managers without putting in their dues. People who work hard get noticed, and so do people who ride on the coattails of others.
You don’t get the business you want by simply working in the business you have, so keep your eyes open for possibilities wherever you are, set measurable goals, and work hard to achieve them.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I am passionate about mentoring students, especially young women in order to help them achieve their career ambitions. Each year I also participate in the McGill Pre-Law Society, where McGill students shadow me to find out what it takes to be a lawyer on a day-to-day basis. I have participated in the program since opening my own firm and I continue to stay in touch with some of the students I have mentored.
I continue to implicate myself first-hand in local causes and try to contribute to the betterment of my community in Montreal. For the past several years I have organized charity events for the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, a medical treatment, research, and teaching institution serving disabled people throughout the city. These events bring together some of the city’s most charitable individuals and help raise considerable funds for a cause that I have become extremely close to over the years.
What to you is notable?
Balance. Balance is notable. It’s not about being good at one thing, it’s about being good at many things, giving each the attention and enthusiasm that it deserves – and then juggling it all. Business, family, friendship, and health.
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