Attorney at Law Magazine First Coast sat down with JWLA’s 2023 Woman Lawyer of the Year, General Magistrate Marquita Green, to discuss her career, her community involvement and her aspirations for the future.
AALM: What does it mean to you to receive the distinction of JWLA Woman Lawyer of the Year?
MG: This distinction is such a great honor and one that I know the committee did not select lightly.
AALM: Tell us what drew you to a legal career?
MG: I have a heart for people and view the legal field as an open area to serve others in many ways. As I was a young girl, I was drawn to the idea of being a lawyer. After all, I grew up in the Cosby Show era. Seeing Clair Huxtable as a fun-loving, hardworking woman who was a wife, mother and attorney gave me hope that I could have it all.
Through college I served as a mentor and quickly developed a heart for community. Upon graduating from college, I worked in the social services field and had opportunities to work in court settings that involved children and families. Those experiences triggered me to apply to law school. During the semester of my judicial externship, I knew that serving in a quasi-judicial or judicial capacity was an opportunity to serve the community on a larger scale. Showing up for others with compassion and respect embody who I am inside the courtroom and beyond and has been a great fit for me.
AALM: What are some of the challenges you faced in your legal career as a woman? How did you overcome those challenges?
MG: I relocated from Pennsylvania to Florida to start law school when my oldest child was five years old and my youngest children were nine months old. Raising a young family and embarking on a new career stretched me very early.
I was speaking with my daughters during their late high school days and they randomly shared that they remember spending their summers at the courthouse. I was a little shocked by the comment, so I asked them to clarify. I think they were joking about summers, but they told me they remember going to the courthouse early in the mornings before school, and sometimes after school, sitting in the little side room, and waiting for me to finish court.
As an on-call attorney, I worked early mornings, late nights, weekends, and even holidays while raising a family. As a hard worker, I had challenges putting the work down and being present in the moments with my family, and even for myself. Despite the imbalances and imperfections, I didn’t give up on my goals, dreams or responsibilities. Over the years, I learned how to manage time and resources better. I learned how to communicate more effectively. I learned how to show up differently. I learned how to set boundaries and to prioritize. I even learned when and how to give myself grace.
AALM: Tell us about your involvement with the local legal community. Are there any groups you’re particularly passionate about? What more do you hope to do within the community?
MG: I have been most active in JWLA, where I serve as the health and wellness chair. This is my third year on the board and as I watch the other board members connect and brainstorm ideas for the legal community, I appreciate being in the space with such committed and dedicated individuals. I also appreciate the connections that the JWLA has with the statewide FAWL.
Individually we can go far; together, we can move mountains.
I am also a member of the Jacksonville Bar Association where I have participated in opportunities such as the Ribault future lawyers and leaders program and have been involved with their health and wellness committee. Mentorship matters, as it fuels our lives in the present and leads residue for the future. It also helps to keep us balanced. I believe our overall health and wellness is the thing that keeps us grounded and keeps us moving forward.
As a lifelong learner, I also appreciate the programs and opportunities provided through the Florida Family Law American Inn of Courts. CommUnity Legal Day is the event that I most cherish as a member of local bar associations. Bringing the local legal community together to serve the community at large is a beautiful blend of what matters to me most. This is especially true as my immediate family has participated alongside me during those CommUnity Legal Days.
AALM: How do you personally try to support upcoming women lawyers? What more do you think the legal community could do to support women in the practice of law?
MG: Every opportunity, gift and skill I have are for me to share with others. I strive to be approachable and available to anyone with a question or in need of support. I listen when people speak to me and often try to hear beyond the words that are spoken. In those spaces, I can offer encouragement and empowering words to uplift, build, and motivate others to live fully in every area of their lives. As a legal community, I think we do a great job of offering support and opportunities to women in the practice of law and should continue to offer a diversity of opportunities for connection and growth, both professionally and interpersonally.
AALM: Looking back on your career thus far are there any changes you would make?
MG: Timing is everything! I believe every shift in my career was made at an appointed time. The only thing I would have done differently is to get involved with local bar associations earlier in my career.
AALM: Looking ahead what more do you hope to accomplish in your career? Another milestone to achieve?
MG: While I thoroughly enjoy the work that I do as a magistrate serving the community in a quasi-judicial capacity, I hope to one day serve the larger community as a judge on the Duval County bench.
AALM: Tell us a little about your life outside the law.
MG: I used to consider myself a part-time taxi cab driver since I spent so much time transporting my daughters to various schools and community activities. Now that my girls are older and out of the home, I spend less time in the car and more time outdoors. Whether by myself, with my husband, or with a group, I truly enjoy running and training for half marathons. I’m challenging myself this year and am preparing to run my first full marathon of 26.2 miles in New York.
AALM: If you had to choose a different profession, what would you have pursued and why?
MG: As a student matriculating through the University of Virginia, I had high hopes of working with adolescents as a middle school teacher. I wanted to work with youth during the transitional phase of life when they were growing into their independence and learning more about who they were as individuals. My path to the classroom shifted. However, I am grateful for the mentorship opportunities I have had over the years to connect with youth throughout the community.
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