Making deals comes naturally for Anne Marie Carson.
“I am the youngest of five,” she laughed. “I’ve been striking deals my whole life.”
Last year, Carson — a member attorney at Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey PLC — advised on multiple deals and also served as a key adviser to Walker-based Kamps Inc.’s six targeted acquisitions in 2021.
Carson’s work over the past year earned her the Young Dealmaker of the Year in MiBiz’s 2022 M&A Deals and Dealmaker Awards.
Anne Marie Carson
Member, Miller, Johnson,
Carson came into law with an extensive global background. She studied abroad in Germany, Poland, France and Egypt while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in international relations at Grand Valley State University.
She is fluent in French, and decided to attend law school during a formative internship at the Oxfam office in Paris.
“There was just one lawyer on the team,” Carson said. “A lot of the other people on the team had academic backgrounds and were very smart, but they didn’t have the tools to actually fix the problems. I saw the lawyer get to use the tools of his legal education to solve those problems.”
While studying law at Georgetown University Law Center, she interned at the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. State Department and provided legal services for overseas citizens. After graduation, she was an associate at a prestigious Washington, D.C. firm where her focus was international project finance, and she worked with lenders in Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East.
Carson says she carries with her the influence of her international experience in her day-to-day work.
“Learning a foreign language isn’t about speaking Spanish or speaking French. It’s about learning how to communicate differently and understand other people. So my experience abroad really matters in my work in that that is a skill,” she said.
After her stint in Washington, Carson returned to Grand Rapids in 2016 and joined Miller Johnson in 2017, where she is now a member attorney with a focus on mergers and acquisitions.
“A tremendous amount of the skills I used in project finance management transition to mergers and acquisitions,” she said. “You need attention to detail and the ability to keep track of complex moving pieces.”
Carson loves transactional law for a number of reasons: She gets to use her negotiation skills to collaborate toward a common goal, and she feels she has full agency of her role in the deals.
“I really like transactional work because, in theory, everyone wants to see it get done and everyone is working toward a common goal,” she said. “At the end of the day, if you aren’t collaborating with clients and with the other side, it’s not going to work.”
Kamps President Mitchell Kamps told MiBiz that Carson was a critical member of the company’s team as it closed six acquisitions across the country.
“Anne Marie has been fantastic during every one of these deals,” Kamps said. “I have received a lot of really positive feedback from the other side of the acquisitions. Both attorneys and company owners have said, ‘Wow, you have a really great attorney to work with.’”
In 2021, Carson was out of the office for nine weeks on maternity leave, which she said underscored her dedication to her clients and fueled her professional growth.
“I crushed it,” she said. “It’s hard to say what the year would have looked like had I had that time — there is no way to know. I had amazing opportunities to work with phenomenal clients on exciting transactions, and I was challenged personally and professionally to grow.”
According to a 2021 study published by UC Irvine Law Review, women made up just 10.5 percent of lead legal advisers for buyers in M&A over a seven-year period.
When asked how it feels for her work to be recognized, Carson said: “It is humbling, and I am excited for what it means for women in this profession and for our firm.”
While Carson credits her education, experiences and mentorships to her success, she acknowledges that the core of her work ethic comes from home.
“I was raised by a single mom,” she said. “That is the extra 10 percent that I give. It’s showing up and doing the work when no one is looking ... that is where I get it from.”