Right out of law school, Lewis Landerholm founded Pacific Cascade Legal in 2010.
He has dedicated his professional career to helping families through family law matters, including divorce, child custody, etc.
His empathetic nature and natural ability to truly listen to his clients help him connect with families and start them on their journey to a new family dynamic.
Pacific Cascade is a law firm based in Portland, Oregon, with a footprint throughout western Washington and Oregon.
What started as a single office has expanded to a much bigger business with 10 locations throughout Western Oregon and Washington.
Additionally, the firm started off only offering family law services, but as the company has grown, so have the services they offer.
Today, the Pacific Cascade Legal team includes 17 attorneys who can offer services covering family law and personal injury, bankruptcy, and estate planning cases since these often overlap with family issues.
Lewis has successfully used his previous experience working in corporate sales to help grow the law firm and run his growing team.
He is also a self-proclaimed sports addict and has leveraged his love of sports to bring a coaching mentality to his leadership style.
He always coaches his team and encourages them to learn and grow in their roles.
What inspired you to build Pacific Cascade Legal?
Early on, I knew I wanted to run my own business rather than work for someone else.
Since I had experience working in upper management before going to law school, once I graduated I was confident I could start and build my own business right away, and I did!
How have your priorities changed from when you first started?
When I first started the firm, my main priority was simply surviving.
Now, my focus has shifted toward growing and creating something that will last and is sustainable.
My current priorities are centered on growth and developing something that will be around for the long haul.
Is there anything you would have done differently when starting?
Yes, there are many things I would have done differently. You learn as you go, and hindsight is always 20/20.
The biggest thing I would have done differently is make sure that I’m bringing the right people on board. In the beginning, I was just trying to fill the roles based on experience to get going.
Still, I understand now that taking the time to ensure you’re filling the role with the best possible candidate, both in experience and personality, will save you a lot of time, effort, money, and stress down the line.
What challenges did you overcome at the beginning of your journey?
Going from zero to being financially viable was a challenge in the beginning.
I started my firm after I graduated from law school, and I had never had a job in the legal world, so making that adjustment and starting my firm was a big learning curve.
Failure wasn’t an option in my mind, so I had a lot to learn out of the gates. It motivated me to strive and learn everything I could from the start.
What is unique about your business?
At our firm, we approach our work as a business and not just a practice. Our decision-making process sets us apart from other attorneys.
Our unique approach includes having support staff in places that most firms don’t, and we emphasize client support from a big-picture point of view.
What advice would you give to someone trying to become an entrepreneur?
Seek out experts in the field that you want to learn more about.
Be part of a coaching group to practice being a leader and learn alongside your team actively.
Find people who have earned the success you want to achieve and talk to them about how they did it.
Embrace discomfort and stop chasing perfection; sometimes, you have to do it.
It’s better to have tried and failed than to wait for perfection and never try.
How did you first select your employees?
If they were breathing, I was interested. Ha, all jokes aside, I had fewer requirements when I first started the firm.
And I was far more focused on experience and getting people in who could do the job and help get the business going.
Now, we focus a lot more on finding the right person to ensure the role is being filled correctly, which we do through our interview process and work style personality tests.
How did you raise funding?
As a law firm, we can’t give equity to non-attorneys, so I relied on small business loans and personal loans out the gates.
What’s your favorite quote?
“Adapt or Die” -Moneyball
What strategies did you first use for marketing your business?
We’ve always tackled and relied on digital marketing from day one.
How did you establish your culture?
Honestly, we didn’t at first– it took trial and error to establish our office culture.
We figured out over time that we needed a culture, and that establishing our core values was important for the firm’s success, as well as employee satisfaction and longevity.
Once we realized how important this was, we worked on defining our values over the years.
How do you define success?
A well-run firm operates with business-like precision, relying on established systems and replicable processes.
When you can trust your team to understand their role and do their job well without everything having to filter through the owners or partners, I would consider that a success.
What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?
I’ve enjoyed watching my team grow and develop into experts in their respective fields.
Their success makes me happy and we all enjoy each other’s accomplishments together. The comradery of our team is unmatched.
I find it incredibly rewarding to know that my passion for upholding the law is helping others when they may need it most.
Family law is often an emotional and difficult time, so it is an honor for me to be able to help my clients get through what is often the most challenging time of their lives.
What are the qualities of a good entrepreneur?
I’ve personally approached being a business owner with the mindset of a coach. I aim to be a mentor and leader rather than a micro-manager.
Additionally, an entrepreneur must be resilient, determined, passionate, and adaptable.
Creating and following a plan is productive, but it’s also important to know and embrace change because sometimes there’s a better way that wasn’t obvious in the planning stages.
How long did it take you to find success?
It took about ten years to get to a point where I felt like we were in a really good place and that this business venture was a true success capable of operating on its own while showing an exciting trajectory moving forward.
We’ve had some ups and downs, but we’ve come a long way from that first year. That being said, there’s still more to do and more growth.
I’m always working hard toward that next level of achievement and ultimate success.
What are you working on now?
We’re working on adding different practice areas to the firm to have more diverse offerings and avenues of income, as well as identifying how we can support long-term success for our employees so that there are career paths within the firm.
TL;DR by Lewis Landerholm
- I always wanted to run my own business rather than work for someone else. My main focus currently is on growth and sustainability.
- If I could go back, I would have focused more on bringing the right people on board in the beginning. Now we take the time to find the right person for the job.
- Going from zero to financially viable was a challenge, but failure wasn’t an option.
- The firm approaches its work as a business and puts emphasis on client support.
- Seek out experts, participate in coaching groups, and embrace discomfort to learn and grow as a leader.
- Digital marketing has always been crucial to the growth of the firm.
- A culture with established core values is important for success, employee satisfaction, and longevity.
- A well-run firm operates with business-like precision and established systems and processes.
- I find it rewarding to help clients during difficult times in their lives.
- I approach being a business owner as a coach and mentor rather than a micro-manager.
- It took about ten years to reach a point of true success and there is still room for improvement and growth.