Minerva Cansino Blanchette, Esq.

Attorney

Attorney Blanchette has been a member of the Georgia Bar Association since 1999 and has nearly two decades of jury trial experience.  She is a top honor law graduate from New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts where she has obtained her Juris Doctorate degree, and an honor and scholar graduate from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida where she has obtained her B.A. in Legal Studies with a minor in Foreign Languages.  She has practiced throughout the State of Georgia  and has extensive experience in the areas of Criminal Law & Immigration Law.  Her practice also includes Estate Law and Family Law. Attorney Blanchette began her career in the area of Property & Tax Law where she has assisted in fighting various municipalities on property tax issues for major corporations such as Exxon, Texaco & Mobile.  Her experience also extends to the area of Estate & Trusts where she assisted in representing the Estate of a well known celebrity entertainer and defending clients on tax issues against the IRS. Attorney Blanchette is most recognized for her work as a former Prosecutor for the State of Georgia for over 7 years where she has served as a Lead Trial Assistant District Attorney in 3 Judicial Circuits:  South Georgia Judicial Circuit (Decatur, Mitchell, Calhoun, Baker & Grady Counties), Cherokee Judicial Circuit (Bartow & Gordon Counties), and the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit (Polk & Harralson Counties).

As a prosecutor, she handled both Felonies and Misdemeanor cases and was trained to be the Circuits’ lead prosecutor for Capital Felonies including Death Penalty Cases, Murder, Rape, Sexual Crimes, Drug Trafficking, Kidnapping, and Armed Robbery.  She has also taught and held seminars for local law enforcement agencies and the community on various criminal law related topics.  As a former State Prosecutor, Attorney Blanchette has earned an impressive reputation throughout the State of Georgia for her diligence, knowledge, readiness, and skill in the courtroom.

Attorney Blanchette was then recruited to serve as a Senior Assistant Lead Public Defender and has served in the area of indigent defense for 7 years.  She was a sucessful Lead Trial Attorney for the Chief Superior Court Judge and has gained the respect and admiration of her clients, her fellow attorneys, the Courts, and the community.  She is sought after as a mentor to her fellow colleagues and praised by her clients as being diligent, aggressive, trustworthy and bestowing confidence in her clients that they have an experienced lawyer on their side.  She has represented clients is all criminal matters and proceedings including jury trials, appeals, probation revocations, pre-trial motions, and has gained an expertise in the area of DUIs and major felonies.  She has let her experience gained as a prosecutor work in her client’s favor.

Attorney Blanchette is also a member of the Georgia Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Federal Bar Association-Immigration Law Section, American Bar Association, Paulding County Bar Association, Bartow County Bar Association, and Cobb County Bar Association.  She is admitted to practice in both the Georgia Appellate Courts and the Federal District Courts.  She also speaks English and Spanish.

Safiya Byars

ATTORNEY

Safiya Byars was born raised in Kingston Jamaica. She is a graduate of Lannaman’s Preparatory School and Saint Andrews High School for Girls. After completing high school she moved to Alabama to attend college. Safiya has lived in Georgia since 2004 and in Gwinnet County since 2007.

Faced with being the first international student at her college Safiya realized then that she wanted to learn how to maintain her international student visa and transition to permanent immigration status. Based on her personal experience Safiya realized that there was a need for legal counsel that was truly knowledgeable and compassionate in assisting immigrants with their immigration needs and other legal issues that would surface if they decided to live in the United States.

Safiya now represents individuals, married couples, partners, and families as they make their immigration decisions, adoption decisions, end-of life decisions, as well as estate representatives in probate matters. Together Safiya and her clients work to create a smooth transition-with regards to moving to the United States, adopting a child, or making end-of life decisions and leaving and protecting a legacy for loved ones. Safiya has a record of consistently achieving desired results on complex matters that affect immigrants. Clients who complete their cases with Safiya are free to consult with her periodically by telephone or email regarding a range of personal or legal issues. In this way, Safiya has become a trusted legal advisor on a variety of immigration, family and financial issues.

Safiya received her Bachelor of Arts Degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Montevallo. Thereafter she attended the University of Alabama School of Law on scholarship where she received her Juris Doctor Degree in 2004. During her academic career, she received numerous honors, including membership in Phi Theta Kappa, All Alabama Academic Team, Golden Key International Honor Society and listings on the National Dean’s List and Honors list. At the completion of her law degree Safiya received the prestigious Dean’s Award of Community Service and the Order of the Good Samaritan Award in recognition of her community service and pro bono legal service to the residents of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Following law school Safiya was admitted into the State Bar of Georgia. She is licensed to practice in all Georgia State and Superior Courts, Supreme Court of Georgia, Federal Immigration Courts, and United States Consulate offices worldwide. Safiya is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers, and the Immigration Section of the State Bar of Georgia. In 2017 Safiya was recognized by the legal community as one of Georgia’s Best Lawyers in Immigration Law by Georgia Trend’s Legal Elite.

In addition to her practice Safiya also devotes significant time to serving the legal profession and her community. Currently Safiya serves as the Vice-Chair of the Immigration Section for the State Bar of Georgia and the annual Chair of the Family Immigration Continuing Legal Education Program that is offered to Immigration Attorneys, court personnel, and immigration paralegals. Safiya is a frequent invited speaker on immigration, adoption, and estate planning workshops for community organizations, immigrant organizations, churches, and private groups both in Atlanta, Georgia and Alabama. Outside of work, Safiya enjoys traveling, collecting art and spending time with her family.

Speaking Engagements & Features

  • Online Jamaican Community-www.jamaicans.com-“Online Immigration Articles”-2013 to 2016
  • State Bar of Georgia – ” Family Immigration Continuing Legal Education Seminar– 2013 to 2018
  • State Bar of Georgia-“Group Mentoring for New Lawyers”-2016-2018
  • Caribbean Association of Georgia and Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce – “Citizenship and Immigration Clinic-April 2017
  • Caribbean American Advancement Foundation-“Politics, Immigration and Economics”- March 2017
  • Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia – “Caribbean American Immigration Forum”– February 2017
  • Byars Firm – “Immigration Workshop”– December 2016
  • The Jennifer Keitt Radio Show -“Basics of Estate Planning”-May 2016
  • Caribbean Association of Georgia and Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce – “Citizenship and Immigration Clinic”-February 2016
  • Caribbean Focus Television-“Focus on Immigration”-January 2016
  • Urgent Legal Matters Continuing Legal Immigration-“Updates in Immigration Law”-1/2016
  • Caribbean Association of Georgia – “Immigration Workshop for the Community”-April 2015
  • Caribbean Association of Georgia – “Immigration and Citizenship Workshop”-January 2015
  • GABWA Legally Speaking Radio Show-“Family Immigration Law”-February 2013
  • People You Need to Know Podcast-“Five Things You Need to Know about Immigration Laws”-2012

Ph: 470-819-4942
Website: www.byarsfirm.com
Email: sbyars@byarslawgroup.com

Giovanni Izaguirre

Consultant

Mr. Izaguierre is 1998 honor graduate from New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusettes. His legal experience includes Immigration Law and Business Law/Management.

As an entrepreneur, he has started many sucessfull business adventures in Georgia and has assisted many clients in business operations.

In Venezuela, Mr. Izaguierre had extensive experience in Contracts, Immigration, and Business Law and is a valuable asset to the Cansino Blanchette Law Firm as a consultant.

M. Tyler Linn

Office manager

Tyler joined the firm in January of 2015, handling the management and operations of the firm and its cases.  Tyler is passionate about each and every case our firm takes, and is always willing to go above and beyond for our clients.  Mr. Linn is a native of Cartersville, GA, growing up in the Cartersville City School System before graduating from the University of Georgia in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Journalism while minoring in Spanish.  He is bilingual and frequently helps with our Spanish speaking clients.  Count on Tyler to put his heart into his work for you.

Kathia Mendoza

Paralegal

Paralegal Kathia Mendoza joins the firm with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University in New York.  Kathia went on to receive her Paralegal Certificate from Kennesaw State University in 2016.  Ms. Mendoza is a certified court interpreter and is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish.