Founder’s Story

Table of Contents

Hi, I’m Jeff Wagoner, and you’ve probably seen me in some of the other videos here on our website or in our video blog. But I wanted to take a couple of minutes and tell you about my background and why I think I ended up being a bankruptcy attorney.

WM Law’s Founder

When I went to law school, I focused on becoming a business attorney and didn’t think I’d ever be a bankruptcy attorney. In my first job out of law school, I worked as a litigator, and I don’t mind telling you that I absolutely hate litigation. When I left that job to start my own law firm in August of 1997, I was mostly on the other side – I handled collection work for 4 large companies in Kansas City, trying to collect their bad accounts. But I kept coming across bankruptcy situations, so I thought I’d try filing a couple of bankruptcies just to learn the ropes. What I discovered was that I connected really well with those clients, and I felt like I was helping them out tremendously. You see, even though attorneys generally follow the money and end up working for people or companies that can afford to pay those big legal bills, I didn’t grow up around money. When I was a kid, we were poor – dirt poor. I grew up on a farm, and in 1977, when I was 13 years old, we lost our farm. The bank came in and auctioned everything off. That was happening a lot back in the late ’70s, but it was still really hard on my dad. He was never really able to come to grips with it and died a few months later. So, my mom was left to raise 4 kids on her own. I don’t know how she did it. Somehow, she got me through college at Mizzou, and I joined the Navy in 1986 after graduation. I was lucky enough to spend 6 years on active duty flying jets off aircraft carriers. But after living through Operation Desert Storm on active duty, I wanted to return home and transitioned to the Navy Reserve. I retired after 23 total years in the Navy. After I left active duty in 1992, I went to law school right here in Kansas City, at UMKC, graduating in 1995. One thing I learned from my 23 years in the Navy was the importance of serving people who need your help and performing that service with honor and respect.

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I know what you’re going through right now. I’ve been there and lived it myself. And I’m here to tell you that it will get better. It won’t be easy and it’ll take some hard work, but things will get better. We’ll help you get started. Thanks for listening.

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Jeffrey L. Wagoner


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