Dominique Lemoine, international lawyer and prominent French-American citizen fulfils his American Dream
It was love at first sight.
Some people move abroad because of work. Others choose careers that enable them to move abroad. In the case of Dominique Lemoine, it was an exchange program at the age of 17 that inspired the career path that would enable him to return, work, and build his life in his newly adopted country: the United States. And in the land of lawyers, a career as an international lawyer was the logical choice.
Raised in Orléans, Lemoine studied in Paris, New York, and Pennsylvania before establishing a law firm in New York, specializing in international commercial and private law. As the times changed, Lemoine and his associated noticed their clients relocating to the South, where the cost of living was affordable and the quality of life pleasant. The firm began exploring a similar move to establish a secondary office, with Miami, Dallas, and Atlanta among the top contenders. Back in 1997, Atlanta was a city that was developing and making a name for itself with the Olympic Games and a growing international airport. It was prime picking, and with no other French speaking law office in the area, Lemoine’s only regret was that they hadn’t moved there earlier.
As an international lawyer, Dominique Lemoine and his French-speaking colleagues at Carreras & Lemoine, LLP help French companies desiring to enter the American market find partnerships through joint ventures, acquisitions, etc. He also provides legal services and advice to many clients from the local French and French-speaking business community for matters that include contract negotiation, legal counsel, and representation in private and commercial law. When necessary, Lemoine has helped those in need with pro-bono services, as well as the consulate general in special circumstances.
In addition to his legal counsel duties, Lemoine is also very involved in the French expatriate community as former President of the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta, and active member of the South-east section of the French Foreign Trade Advisors. In this capacity, he is often solicited to give advice at conferences to young French entrepreneurs seeking to enter the U.S. market. If he had more time, he “would dedicate it to doing this more often than twice a year in order to improve the French understanding of the American market.” “Doing business in America is not like doing business in Europe,” Lemoine explained. “You cannot go into the U.S. market with a European mentality and expect Americans to act like Europeans.”
With years of experience under his belt, he’s become quite familiar with American mentalities, and even many of the nuances, such as the North-eastern stereotype of the American Southeast, which, as he explained, is the same tendency that Europeans have of Americans being “country bumpkins”. All this, Lemoine shared, is due to deformed perceptions and closed-minded stereotypes. Consequently, if he could give one piece of advice to his French compatriots seeking to move to the U.S. it would be, “You must have an open mind. You’re not in France.”
Though work is quite busy, it doesn’t mean that Lemoine doesn’t have time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Atlanta. In addition to golfing once a week, he is a patron of the Atlanta Opera, which he hails as being just as good as elsewhere, but with more better prices. In fact, according to Lemoine, “we find everything here at more affordable prices … even many stars”. True, one must look for cultural events a little more than in New York or Paris, and theatre is lacking, to Lemoine’s regret, but for the busy professional with only the occasion weekend free, “Atlanta has it all”.
When asked about the ease of integrating into American society, Dominique Lemoine declared that the U.S. is “the most welcoming country in the world.” In his experience, Americans are warm and curious, and even when French-American relations have been strained on the political front, he has never been met with aggression. As such, he has a good balance of American, European, and French friends in the community.
For Lemoine, the French community in Atlanta is like a small, yet non-claustrophobic village, and beyond that there are many opportunities to offer his family a positive cross-cultural experience. All three of his children speak English and French, and his youngest, who attends the Atlanta International School, also speaks Dutch, thanks to his Dutch mother. Lemoine is also able to maintain regular ties to France by reading the French newspaper and by taking an active role in French politics as a local delegate for his political affiliation.
Nevertheless, despite all of the intercultural opportunities that Atlanta provides, there are naturally certain concessions that must be made for an expatriate. For Lemoine, that means accepting that his American children have a different sense of humour from his French humour and driving everywhere instead of walking—the aspect he misses most about France. If those are the only elements that lack in this adopted country, then it looks like Dominique Lemoine has done a fantastic job of fulfilling his American Dream!