Lawyer Limelight: Marjory Cajoux

Marjory Cajoux decided to become a lawyer because she felt a calling for public service. Her practice has embodied that spirit by extending lifelines of human kindness to clients since starting her own firm in 1996. Initially a general practitioner in all areas, Cajoux still handles a wide mix of matters for her diverse client base. The common thread is devotion to – and appreciation for – the people who call on The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux during the most difficult or challenging times of their lives. Cajoux says that sentiment became even more important during a pandemic in which her firm has focused on assisting clients rather than collecting fees.

Lawdragon: Marjory, would you describe for our readers the mix of work you do within your practice?

Marjory Cajoux: Initially, The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux functioned as a general practice firm specializing in all areas of law without exception. In 2016, I streamlined the firm, and now we specialize in immigration, estate, real estate, international business and personal injury.

With the exception of deportation matters, we handle all immigration-related cases representing individuals, families, and businesses seeking to obtain legal residency in the United States.

We are the experts in VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) and have secured a high success rate in this area of law for our clients. Additionally, we serve entrepreneurs from other countries, looking to expand their businesses or create new businesses in the United States.

We also assist families with estate planning and have expertise in the most complex contested and uncontested administration issues. We represent victims of the World Trade Center attacks, as well as certain wrongful death, medical malpractice and workplace negligence cases.

LD: What do you do in the real estate area?

MC: In real estate, we handle both residential and commercial real estate transactions representing homeowners and businesses throughout the tri-state area. Our representation includes conducting closings, foreclosures, refinancing, probate (contested and uncontested), deed fraud, predatory lending and commercial leasing agreements. We also represent high net worth individuals in all cash deals and 1031 exchange transactions and counsel clients in construction financing and joint ventures.

LD: How did you first become interested in developing your own firm?

MC: When I initially started my business 25 years ago, my sole ambition was to help as many clients who needed my services as possible, serving every sector. With this goal, I represented clients in all areas of law. While intense, this general practice firm allowed me the opportunity to hone my skills in specific areas of law, of which now I have streamlined my firm to only concentrate in those areas. Focusing on specific areas of law has also allowed the firm to expand in both our expertise and in revenue and staff, allowing us to compete for clients with the medium to large size firms, offering similar representation.

LD: What keeps you excited about your work?

MC: Changing our clients’ lives by the work we do on their behalf is what I find professionally satisfying. I have worked tirelessly to make The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux not just a competent law firm that yields a high level of success for its clients, but also a firm where the client feels heard and supported. We believe in delivering a level of customer service that far exceeds our clients’ expectations and their perceptions of what law firms really deliver. As such, our firm offers its support to our clients through “We care for you” calls; support baskets during challenging times; and various “Thinking about you” and “Thanks for choosing us” emails as a continuous note of thanks, encouragement and support.

Oftentimes we are connecting with clients during the most challenging times of their lives. I want to assure them that there’s support for them, not just legally, but emotionally. That is important to me and this sentiment is carried through the firm in all departments and staff members.

When one of our clients calls us to say, “Thank you, you have changed my life,” that is satisfaction beyond words for me.

LD: Are there any recent developments or achievements you can share with us?

MC: Yes, the Covid-19 pandemic. As we all know, the world as we had known it changed in an instant. What initially began as a temporary stay-at-home order morphed into a year-long epidemic that has changed our lives and the way we conduct business forever.

While many boutique law firms lost the economic fight and their firms succumbed to the residual financial effects of Covid-19, The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux modified our business model, pivoting to become one of the sole support systems for many of our clients. There was no longer business as usual for us. We had to console our clients as they lost loved ones, homes and businesses, while grappling with uncertainty and the fear of the unknown. We assisted them while simultaneously watching New Yorkers come together to help one another and stand up for social justice. We worked through our personal fears and put the health and wellness of our clients first. I believe that decision is why we are here today, thriving as a premiere boutique law firm in Brooklyn. Because we showed compassion for our clients, in lieu of revenue, our clients in turn are now supporting us more than ever. As devastating as the Covid-19 epidemic has been, it has also confirmed my faith in humanity and the strength found in this city’s concordance.

LD: Thank you for sharing that. What trends are you seeing in your practice in terms of the types of matters keeping you busy these days?

MC: Estate planning and immigration matters are a priority right now. The pandemic has set a universal tone amongst many of my clients. The need to plan for their loved ones in the event of a transition and to secure the American dream for those left behind in other countries has become a priority for many families.

We have become the voice for these families and have supported hundreds of individuals and families through the estate planning process, as well as securing U.S. citizenship.

As a Black woman of Haitian ancestry, I witness the coronavirus epidemic ravage my community of origin and those of many of my clients. At the height of the pandemic, I had to console clients who could not locate their loved ones. I also had to become the liaison between clients and funeral homes, hospitals, etc., to seek answers for various questions. Each circumstance was met with our clients feeling defeated, afraid and lost as to what to do to ensure their families were financially supported during this time and beyond. Hence, their need to create a will and estate plan to ensure a smooth transition in the event of an untimely death. Others feared dying without bringing a loved one to America, especially young children, so immigration also became paramount.

LD: That makes so much sense. Can you describe a recent matter that you’ve handled?

MC: We had a client who came to us because she was looking to finalize a divorce and sell much of the real estate assets procured during the marriage. Although both parties were amenable to the divorce before the judge could sign it, the husband passed away. Unfortunately, this transpired during the height of Covid-19 where nerves were frayed. The decedent’s children from the first marriage brought up a contested probate litigation against the current wife fearing that their children would lose their rightful inheritance. It has become a fiercely contested matter; one we are still litigating. Suffice it to say, we are representing the client in the legalities of the matter, while also trying to support the family overall.

LD: They must be so grateful to have you on their side. What have been the key challenges of successfully representing the client in this instance?

MC: This case required gathering information across two continents, several banking systems, and a slight language barrier. It remains to be seen how it will all end, but we are diligently working towards a structured resolution that will render the implicated parties whole.

LD: And what do you see as the impact on the client in these types of cases?

MC: After 25 years of litigating various types of cases, I have found that the prevailing theme is legacy. Regardless of whether there is a monetary gain or judgment, many of these cases result in a future generation being directly impacted by the final outcome of the case. This becomes the predominant factor in the choices my clients make and the intensity with which they decide to pursue their legal matter. At the end of the day, my clients typically want to know that their immigration, real estate, estate, or personal injury litigation choices will improve their children or grandchildren’s future and quality of life. We are providing generational support with our legal services.

LD: Was there an early experience or mentor who really helped shape the course of your professional life?

MC: Yes, immediately after law school, I started my professional career with a female entrepreneur who had founded a business that was then 20 years old. When I was onboarded, I was immediately immersed into a multitude of changes that are commonly experienced during rapid business growth. Little did I know the effect that experience would have on me. I never considered that 16 months later, I would put in my resignation and become an entrepreneur within my own right, who today is also experiencing my own unique set of growing pains. Merging my entrepreneurial spirit with my legal education was the best career choice I could have made; thus, the birth and continued success of The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux.

LD: How has your practice changed since the early part of your career?

MC: My mother’s living room was the first home of The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux. My mother functioned as the office’s customer service department and my personal life coach. If I became anxious before arguing a motion, or filing a summary judgement, my mom was right there to reassure me. A few years later, she was replaced by my personal assistant, who for the past 20 years has been a fierce advocate for the firm; a sounding board for my court arguments; and one of the best employees I have had thus far. Today, I still have the same personal assistant, who now is a manager for the firm, and as my practice is growing to include the addition of a legal administrator, attorneys, managers, paralegals and office administration personnel, I am extremely proud of the team that has evolved, all of which have proven to be indispensable.

LD: It sounds like a family firm in so many ways. What is your “secret” to staying driven to do this kind of work?

MC: Some professionals decide to devote their talents towards a mission; others are called to an assignment. I believe I have been called to be a public servant and I have been fortunate, over the years, to have clients that have chosen to give me access to glimpses of their lives to evoke change. I have been humbled by their faith and trust in my ability. In sharing their pains and vulnerabilities, they have offered me opportunities to embrace my calling and use my skills and talents for the common good of people.

LD: Would you please describe your career path and how you arrived at your current position?

MC: I never aspired to be an attorney. My dream was to be a doctor. My mother always told me I was going to be an attorney, and, in the end, she prophesied correctly. My career has been built on obedience to a prevailing beyond anything I could have personally fashioned for myself. Over the years, I have perfected my skills and now have positioned myself to successfully represent my clients, yielding stellar results. The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux prides itself on taking on the most complex cases, those cases that many similar firms would pass on. We do it with grace, perseverance and an immeasurable commitment to our clients that extends beyond the law. We work hard for our clients, helping families and communities with the goal of making the world better for all. Inclusiveness and equality for all is our firm’s mantra. That is what keeps us going. Together, we are making a difference for many.

LD: When there are many high-quality firms out there, what do you try to “sell” about your firm to potential recruits? How is it unique?

MC: I believe the hallmark of the human experience is to know that you have been seen, heard and understood, regardless of winning or losing. Most of my clients come to my office and recommend my services based largely in part because these central needs were acknowledged.  This is one of the signature ingredients of The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux “experience” – Care. Compassion. Commitment.

LD: When you’re outside the office, what do you do for fun?

MC: I am a peacock of many feathers. For fun, I have done everything from worldwide traveling, piano lessons, dancing, swimming, skiing, and tennis. The adventurous side of me will try almost anything.

LD: Do you have a favorite book or movie about the justice system?

MC: My favorite book is “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And my favorite movies are “My Cousin Vinny,” “A Time to Kill” and “Philadelphia.”

LD: What would you be doing now if you weren’t a lawyer?

MC: I would be an international travel vlogger. And, during my lifetime, an Olympic ice skater or tennis player.