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Meet Matthew Nagel of BiState Law Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Nagel.

Hi Matthew, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Going into my last semester of undergraduate at Knox College, I was more interested in chasing my dream of playing professional soccer than figuring out a job. My advisor made me a deal: take the LSAT and apply to three law schools, and he’d let me mail in the assignments for the last semester. It sounded like a good deal to me, and I got accepted to Yale, the University of Chicago, and Washington University. After a serious injury, I ended up coming back to St. Louis, and my backup plan at Wash U. became the path forward.

I learned how to be a lawyer by working at several mid-sized firms in town that focused on insurance defense work. At first, this was interesting, working with businesses to solve problems and then implement solutions to prevent those problems from happening again. However, after the financial crisis in 2009, the firm’s focus shifted to personal injury defense, and that was not something that I was interested in.

When I had the opportunity to open my own law firm, I knew that I wanted to help people that had been injured. The insurance companies have thousands of employees, ranging from adjusters to investigators and armies of lawyers who are backed by nearly infinite resources. I had seen insurers spend exorbitant amounts of money to simply avoid the responsibility of helping people. In that fight, I wanted to be on the side of the people who needed help rebuilding their lives and navigating a process that seemed organized against them. I was also able to bring in a lot of my experience working with business owners to offer business startups, trademark and copyright services, and corporate litigation.

9 years later, we’re still at it. We have offices in Chesterfield, Missouri and Millstadt, Illinois (hence the BiState), and we try to focus on making a difference in the communities where we are. I believe that St. Louis is an incredible place and can grow into a truly international city that everyone can be proud of. I’m from here, and I want to help my neighbors.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Every small business owner has struggled – that’s a huge part of the journey. Hiring staff, the pandemic, customers that don’t pay the bill … all of these things are universal for business owners. However, one thing that I share with most other small business owners, but is somewhat unique to my profession: I had no clue what I was doing when I started.

At law school, they train you to think critically, stay organized, and work long hours.

A firm teaches you how to practice law in terms of assembling arguments, understanding the law, and applying both law and argument to real-world situations.

At no point had anyone taught me how to run a business. I knew nothing about marketing, accounting, hiring, firing, and setting up the physical plant necessary for people to run a law firm. Decades of school but this was never a lesson.

I had no idea how much I didn’t know about running a business. I had to learn Quickbooks, about what corporate structure was the best fit for me, how to hire, fire, and manage a team, how to deal with vendors and a thousand other small things that I had never thought about before.

Ultimately, the biggest struggle became where I put my energy. I can spend time and money learning my craft and becoming the best trial lawyer OR I can put time and energy and money into being the best business owner and leader possible. At times these efforts are aligned, but more often, those roles conflict. There are only many hours in the day to address all of the issues. I am sure that lawyers are not alone in this struggle, but it is not something that a retail store would not necessarily face in the same way.

As you know, we’re big fans of BiState Law Center. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
The BiState Law Center is dedicated to providing the highest quality legal service to people in Missouri and Illinois, fighting on their team to protect their rights in the courtroom. Delivering on that mission can look different for every client, but our passion is to make our community a better, safer place. A big part of that mission is removing the stress of the legal system from our clients so that they can focus on their health, their families, and their businesses.

We handle cases in personal injury, worker’s compensation, business law, real estate law, trademark, and copyright.

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
The BiState Law Center is a mission-driven law firm that is dedicated to making our community a better, safer place. We do this by using the law and the courts to protect and unite our community, zealously advocating for our clients and delivering personalized results.

Our award-winning trial lawyers live here; they are your friends and your neighbors and understand the unique challenges that face people in the St. Louis region. This focus on community makes us better advocates and stronger allies because it’s our home too. By adhering to our Core Values, listening to our clients, and truly caring about them, we can make a difference in our community.

Be Zealous – Be Honest – Fight For What’s Right

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