Michael is a lawyer at Wakefield Law, PLLC, a family-owned law firm located in Leesburg, Virginia. Michael specializes in estate planning law and contract law including a collection of debts. He lives in Purcellville, Virginia with his wife, Paige and daughter, Eloise.
- CEO Hack: I try to treat those I work with as if they are my most important clients
- CEO Nugget: Trust yourself more
- CEO Defined: Accountability, meet deadlines, and ensure details are attended too
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from me, I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today at Michael Wakefield of Wakefield law pllc. Michael is awesome having on show.
Michael Wakefield 0:39
Thank you. Thanks for having me. I'm excited.
Gresham Harkless 0:42
Definitely. I'm super excited to have you on as well too. And before we jumped into the interview, I wanted to read a little bit more about Michael so you hear about all these awesome things that he's doing. And Michael is a lawyer at wakeful law pllc, a family owned law firm located in Leesburg, Virginia. Michael specializes in estate planning law and contract law, including collections of debts. He lives in Postville, Virginia with his wife, Paige and daughter, and Louise, and Michael, are you ready to speak to the imcl? community? Absolutely. Awesome, awesome, awesome. And wanted to start everything by hearing a little bit more on how you got started. In all the awesome things you're doing? Can you take us through your story? So we hear about all these awesome things? And what brings you to where you are now?
Michael Wakefield 1:19
Absolutely, yeah. Um, so my story is sort of has some twists and turns to it. So I started out, actually, as a music major at my first college that I went to, and wanted to pursue that, and maybe with the ultimate goal of going into conducting an orchestra or something like that. And I just say, as I start to get into that, I didn't find that there was the sort of all around mental stimulation that I was looking for, in a long term career. So that's death for a year. And then I transferred to William and Mary, down in Williamsburg, Virginia, and, you know, started the path toward law school. My father is a lawyer, and he started our firm was previously called Charles us, Wakefield, Jr, PC. We've renamed it Wakefield law now that, you know, it's more than just him as a lawyer there. But, so he, he had always done law, and I was always interested in it. But there's definitely a great aspect of why I wanted to go forward with it, to have a family business, you know, good feeling between the two of us, which is really nice. But so I went to, like I said, William and Mary for undergraduate, and then when I was thinking about where to go to law school, I sort of wanted a totally different experience from my undergraduate. And so I applied and got into university of the district, Columbia, David, a Clark school law, which is as historically black university in DC, and I really just wanted to get sort of a different, you know, the different kind of education that my peers were getting. And it was really terrific, you know, almost immediately at UDC, they drop you into legal clinics, where you're, like I said, almost immediately practicing with real people and their real problems, rather than a lot of my peers who, you know, we're learning cases and know, that occurred in the 1800s. Because, you know, you get to have a different experience of what law means when you're working with people, and you have to solve their problems, realistically. So that was my law school experience. And then we started out, you know, I started out in my father's firm, one of my most important goals was to become profitable immediately, which was, you know, it's tough for a new associate. So, you know, I took over a book of business from the firm, and that's that, when you're saying in my bio, the contract litigation collection of debt sighs it took that part over. And I've tried to grow that, but then I sort of, I started a new area of practice, which was the estate planning arm of our firm. So working with clients on drafting their documents for incapacity planning, and end of life and all sorts of, you know, the stuff that you never really want to think about, but it's important to get your affairs in order. So, you know, we started that, and it's been going strong, it's been growing, and it's been great. But that's sort of my story. My wife and I met in high school is for high school sweethearts. And, you know, we've been together 10 years now and our over 10 years and we've set our first our little daughter Eloise in March, so she's, you know, a little Coronavirus, baby, but everybody's safe. And, you know, we're really grateful we've had some good time to spend with her. So that's sort of that's my story.
Gresham Harkless 4:33
Nice. So I definitely appreciate you, you know, telling us your story and happy, you know, 10 plus years and congratulations on it, and your daughter as well, too. I think that so many times, you forget why we do the things that we do. And to me it always comes back to family sounds like that's very important, as well.
Michael Wakefield 4:50
Yeah, it's sort of everything. Mm hmm.
Gresham Harkless 4:52
Yeah, absolutely. And so, I know you touched on it a little bit. I love like your background and your interest and be in the music and be able to look for that. You know, different experience? Do you feel like that has translated into your, I guess, your practice and everything you all are doing? You know what?
Michael Wakefield 5:07
I think so. I hope so I think that my experience, you know, I was always more focused on the arts than I was on, you know, I always played sports, but I was more focused on the Arts, and, you know, so drama and music. And I think that exercise is a different part of your brain than gets exercise, we sort of day to day things. And so yeah, I like to think maybe I'm more of a creative problem solver. And it also introduced me to a whole group of people that, you know, not everybody gets to be introduced to so I think I'm a more well rounded person because of it and maybe more creative when it comes to problem solving. You know, more than just, you know, getting, you know, people will say, Oh, you did drama, you're probably gonna be good trial lawyer, you know, in front of a jury. You know, maybe I'm not sure. But definitely, I think that the two parts that I just mentioned,
Gresham Harkless 5:54
yeah, I always feel like the the more kind of different experiences, you have the different I guess, lenses, you kind of look, they provide a more varied experience and helps you like when you talk about coming to that problem solving, when so many times people are looking from one vantage point is sometimes hard to get out of yourself, so to speak. But when you have more varied experiences, it's all kind of a part of you and in what you have done. So I know you touched on a little bit with you know, what exactly you all do at Wakefield law pllc? Could you expand if there's anything additional to touch on it, and what you feel kind of sets you all apart in is your secret sauce?
Michael Wakefield 6:26
Absolutely. Um, so my, like I said, my father started at 30 plus years ago, same place you in Leesburg, he's always served all of Northern Virginia, with his areas. And those areas, were and still are a contract law, collection of debts, you know, for businesses, when they have AR and things like that you can use us for that. And then to litigate a contract. He's also always on personal injury, so car accidents and other types of accidents where the person who experiences It was not at fault. And then, you know, we do it. So I do the estate planning, which you know, is wills and powers of attorney and trusts and all sorts of documents that you need to get together. When you say, you know, what sets you apart, I frequently say, you know, be wary when you're working with attorneys, I don't have necessarily the highest opinion of most attorneys, because I think it's maybe people were say they're looking after the client. But I think the example I always give is, a lawyer should be able to, you know, barring some exceptions, or should be able to win most cases, because if you keep appealing it, if you keep spending money, you know, if you have unlimited resources, then you should be able to win a case. But that's sort of what I was getting back to at the beginning, when I said, that's not realistic, legal services. Realistic Legal Services is when a client comes to you and says, I want to hire you for x, you're not just saying, Oh, great, another client, you know, another sale, it's what's best for this client, in the grand scheme of things in relation to me, and my firm, you know, in visit, the best for me to say, yes, let's move forward is the best for me to say, I want to do an investigation, let's do a free consultation. So I really fully understand exactly what your problem is, and see if I'm the right person for you. Or a lot of the time, you know, we turn away a lot of business where, you know, it won't be exactly what we do. And we say, you know, we'll help you find somebody, but sort of our mantra and sort of, I guess this is where I get into what sets us apart our mantra is, stay in your lane. elemis only do things that you are an expert in and 100% comfortable with. I think a lot of attorneys get in trouble saying, you know, I'm smart, I can figure it out on the fly. And, you know, clients pick up on that because they're smart, and they say you know why to hire you. And maybe it was a great sale for the attorney in the moment. But it's really bad in the long run, because you get a bad reputation. And in law, just like almost every field reputation was almost everything.
Gresham Harkless 8:57
Yeah, that's absolutely powerful kind of mantra that you will have. And it's so funny, because a lot of times I'll say if you run your own ratio never lose. And I think we get in trouble when we try to run somebody else's race. And like you said, you know, trying to do things that aren't in your lane, so to speak, and you really start to spread yourself. But as you mentioned, that reputation piece is huge all across the board. So you know, a lot of times people say the way you do one thing is that way you do many things. So that speaks to kind of who you are and what you do. So I love that you guys are able to focus.
Michael Wakefield 9:25
Gresham Harkless 9:27
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a SEO hack. So this could be like an app or book or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient.
Michael Wakefield 9:39
Seo hack, I think for us, it really comes down to trying to try to treat someone who you're working with as if they were a family members if they're, you know, your most important client. And again, I think a lot of these are sort of cliched by the by the practice of law. And these things are said a lot but Done rarely, if you actually treat every client like you're there, like they are your most important client, I think you're going to benefit from that. And you know, that'll lead me to be spending a lot of time on maybe a case where my maximum fee is not going to be, you know, huge or even looking, you know, big can be a small fee. But even if I do that, I know I'm going to, you know, most cases, win over the client, gain their trust, make them feel like they're important, because a lot of the times in law and what I do, they're meeting with people in a dark time, or sometimes the worst time of their lives. So I think, I know, people get really turned off by attorneys, you know, thinking that their time is super valuable. And you know, my time, you know, my time is valuable, but I always want to give it out as freely as possible. to, you know, like I said, realistically help people with their problems. So I think that's a good a good nugget, or, you know, hack to keep keep in mind. You know, treat every client like they're your most important client.
Gresham Harkless 11:02
Awesome. So now I want to ask you for what I call a CEO, nugget. And this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice might be something you would tell a client or if you happen to a time machine, you might tell you're in the business self,
Michael Wakefield 11:13
think it would be trust yourself. One of my toughest points of my practice was, like I said, starting out, where I was creating this entire new focus of our practice within firm. You know, I read every book, I, you know, I spent hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours 1000s of hours preparing for the first client. And that's great, and it's really helped me, but I think if I would have trusted myself more, you know, I would have been able to start off earlier and, you know, serve more clients, because I just really wasn't giving myself any sort of grace or credit for all the stuff I didn't know. And I think, you know, I it's something lawyers say a lot. But I think, like, it's been saying, so far, it applies to a lot of people. You know, if you trust yourself, and you're confident that you're going to do the best thing for the client, you know, you're going to be able to help them. And it's sort of one of the most important parts of it is managing expectations. I think as well, making sure your client knows where you're going where the case stands. I think a lot of lawyers get in trouble saying, well, this is a slam dunk. So being straightforward clients and being able to manage those expectations, you know, and if I had thought about all those things earlier, I think would have been more comfortable starting out more confidently, instead of taking it almost a year before I even took my first client.
Gresham Harkless 12:41
Awesome, awesome. Awesome. So now, I want to ask you my absolute favorite question. And I know we touched a little bit upon this and, and kind of a different perspective. But we're hoping to have different quote unquote, CEOs on the show. So Michael, which is being a quote unquote, CEO mean to you?
Michael Wakefield 12:54
I think it means accountability. I think it means the buck stops with you. Yeah, I learned from my father that you need to make sure that everybody knows that you're going to come through that if you if you say you're going to do something, you're going to do it being super ultra organized and making sure that every sort of deadline and detail is attended to and never sort of pushing it off and saying, well, it was the system's fault, or, you know, it was the courts fault, because they're busy. You know, those things can happen. But at the end of the day, when you're running a business or when you're running a part of a business, you need to be accountable to your clients, and honest about where everything stands.
Gresham Harkless 13:37
Absolutely. Well, Michael, I truly appreciate that perspective. And I appreciate your time, even more, what I want to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best they can guild view and find out about all the awesome things you in the same worker.
Michael Wakefield 13:52
Sure. So I'd be remiss, if I didn't mention, one of the things that I think is really important about just one of the areas that I practice. So the estate planning portion, I'll just say, doesn't matter if you talk to me, or if you talk to anybody. It's not just the elderly. It's not just the ultra wealthy, sort of everybody, whether they're 18 years old, or 110 years old, has documents that they need to get together. You know, it's sort of I always think of it it's a responsibility to yourself and to your family loved ones and people who rely on you. So I think it's a big mixed misconception that you put it off and do it later. Or, you know, I don't have a lot of money. So I shouldn't I don't need a will. It's just one piece of, of estate planning is transfer of assets. So I always like to mention that just to say just talk to somebody and I'm someone who always does sort of a free consultation, no guarantee that and if people just have questions, the timer is and start taking when somebody calls me. I think that's really bad way to practice where if someone calls me they have a question. If I'm able to I'll take a little bit of time and world's Thank you Call me back at a time where I can take a little time to sort of answer your question. Because one of my goals has always been to be an accessible lawyer, because a lot of lawyers are certainly not. So call me call somebody do some research, but make sure that this portion of things is taken care of. There's always 100,000 things to take care of. But I think this one's important. So, and sort of best way to get in touch with me or is either, you know, go to my firm's website, which is Wakefield, pllc, calm, and we've got a little contact box, or of course, you can email, Facebook page, which has our email and all contact information online, will always take some time. And I always try to get back to people right away as soon as possible.
Gresham Harkless 15:45
Nice, what I definitely appreciate that Michael, we will have the links, you know, and information in the show notes and FA appreciate you for being that person to talk to because I think so many times there are people and I'm sure you definitely experienced where people think that they can kind of kick the bucket or do it later on. And that later on comes a lot earlier than sometimes is anticipated. So it's so important to kind of take care of those, you know, aspects of your estate, you know, before you definitely need to, because often it can be a Messier situation if it's not taken care of. So I appreciate you know, all the work that you do and the firm does, you know, related to that and appreciate your time of course and I hope you have a great rest of the day.
Michael Wakefield 16:20
Thank you. Thank you and thank you so much for having me.
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