Interview with Laine T. Wagenseller, Founder, Wagenseller Law Firm
Wagenseller Law Firm is a full service business and real estate firm dealing with all facets of litigation and business counseling. New Media Guru interviewed Laine T. Wagenseller, founder of Wagenseller Law Firm, to find out more about the business and the inspiration behind. This interview is next in the row of New Media Guru’s inspirational story series for Entrepreneurs called “IGNITE // OUTSOURCE // MULTIPLY // ELEVATE”. We are pleased to have Laine Wagenseller for joining in.
What is the back story of your entrepreneurial journey? Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I grew up in Los Angeles. Neither of my parents were attorneys. My father was a real estate developer and he was a big part of why I decided to specialize in real estate litigation.
What were you doing in your career before you started your present venture?
I worked for several large national law firms before deciding in 2004 to start my own firm. Over ten years I learned by working with senior attorneys about real estate and business litigation in Los Angeles.
Can you look back and talk about the ignition process of determining what you were going to do as an entrepreneur?
My dad had his own business as a real estate developer and so that was the business model that I knew. I wanted the freedom and the challenge of building my own business. For me that meant starting my own law firm in downtown Los Angeles where I could handle the cases that I wanted to handle lawsuits involving real estate projects and properties.
Did you have an idea what that company would be about?
I wanted Wagenseller Law Firm to be about standards. I wanted clients to know that if they hired us they could expect a high level of service. We specialize in real estate litigation. The client could feel comfortable that we specialized in one thing and we did it really well.
How did you fund the initial stages of the company?
I read books on starting your own law firm. The books noted how an attorney needs six months of expenses saved up. The book highlighted how many beginning companies fail. I did not have six months of savings saved up but I ignored the books and took the risk. I earned money as I went along and grew as I earned the money.
What was the first year journey like? How did you go beyond your immediate contact base?
My initial fears were “Who is going to hire me?” and “How will I pay my mortgage?” However, the biggest lesson I learned in the first year was to have confidence in myself. I looked at other business attorneys that I knew who had their own firms. I told myself that if they could do it, I could do it. I began keeping a detailed database of people I knew and people I was meeting. I kept notes of where I met them, who they knew, what they did and other details. I started reaching out with emails, newsletters, phone calls and more. I also joined groups that put me in front of other business people.
Who were the earliest people you worked with and how did you build your team?
Initially everything I did was on a contract basis. I gradually hired part time assistants, who soon became full time. I hired contract attorneys, who soon became full time. Each time I hired, though, I was plagued by the same fears–how will I get enough business to support them? Like starting the business, I needed to just take the risk and make my move.
Please provide some information about your company’s product/service?
Wagenseller Law Firm specializes in real estate litigation in Los Angeles. We handle partnership disputes, co-owner lawsuits, real estate transactions which have fallen apart, neighbor and boundary fights, breach of contract and more. We also handle a number of similar business litigation lawsuits, such as breach of contract and partnership disputes.
How did Outsourcing assisted you in Idea development?
The highest and best use of my time is meeting with clients and developing new clients. It is easy to get bogged down in the other facets of running a business–areas that I do not know that much about and which take me away from rainmaking. Outsourcing helps me get things done and introduces a level of expertise to my operations that I do not have.
Do you outsource services for your business? If yes, what kind of services are these and how it helps you in business growth?
At Wagenseller Law Firm we have outsourced almost every function of the business at one time or another. Many of our marketing functions are outsourced, including SEO, website development, and printing and mailing newsletters.
What is your advice to someone who wants to take outsourcing route to grow his business?
To those who want to outsource, I recommend being very clear about what you are looking for and checking over all of the work. Your vendor needs to know your expectations.
How has NEW MEDIA GURU contributed in your business journey so far?
New Media Guru has been an integral part of our business growth. I was initially skeptical, thinking that sophisticated legal consumers would find their lawyers from personal referrals. However, many of our clients now come through the internet and even those who are referrals do research on the firm on the internet. New Media Guru created our entire presence on the web and kept it front and center for those searching for a real estate litigation attorney in Los Angeles. New Media Guru had the expertise in an area that I lacked.
If you look at what is happening in the industry, what old systems or techniques / mindset/ approach do you find yourself replacing more frequently?
The key to running a business is having a set of systems. We want our clients to have a consistency to their service that they can come to expect. Even though staff members may change, our systems do not. Because we do not sell a physical product, clients can often only judge our service by how well they are treated and the final result. We want our service to always be fantastic and repeatable. Systems help us do that.
What is the next major step forward?
The constant challenge in business is to avoid getting caught putting out fires (dealing with emergencies) and to instead focus on client development and service. This takes constant work.
What is the future of your business?
Disputes among partners, family members and business people are not going away. The most effective real estate litigation attorney is one who understands human emotions and needs and is prepared to deal with them. Business litigation is never an end in itself. It is simply a way to get something. The most effective trial lawyer needs to creatively figure out how his or her client can get the best result quickly and cost-effectively.
What advice do you have for the budding entrepreneurs?
While it sounds trite, the biggest obstacle for a budding entrepreneur is the fear or lack of faith that casts doubt on all of your dreams. An entrepreneur must sometimes step into the future with confidence even when he or she does not know how it will all turn out. And, by the way, that fear does not necessarily go away after you are established! Believe in yourself and take the first step.