K. Scott Wagner decided some years ago to take some brotherly advice.
He and the Wisconsin law community are better off for it.
As Wagner was pondering career choices, his brother talked about how much he enjoyed his legal career. Wagner
listened to his brother, followed in his footsteps, went to law school and hasn’t looked back.
“I really enjoy the intellectual challenge that litigation provides,” said Wagner, a shareholder at Wagner Law Group
S.C. in Milwaukee. “I enjoy helping other people and talking in front of other people so this job is a great fit.”
Wagner’s brother, Jeff, didn’t listen to his own advice and traded in his law career for radio and has a weekday show
for WTMJ AM 620 in Milwaukee.
“I really enjoy getting in front of judges and juries,” said K. Scott Wagner, who studied broadcasting as an undergrad
and was active in debate at his high school. “Sometimes people say I sound like my brother, which can be good or
bad depending on the audience.”
Wagner’s practice focuses on commercial litigation, primarily anti-trust, contractual disputes, securities fraud,
shareholder disputes involving both public and private entities and when business owners look to end their
partnerships. In litigation, proper planning and planning for the unexpected are essential, he said.
“You can have a plan, set it out and then the other side comes in and rips it down,” he said. “You have to constantly
rethink your plan and even though more trials end up settling, you need to keep up the preparation since the one
time you’re not ready for court will be when there’s not a settlement.”
In addition to his regular litigation practice, Wagner has also worked on several class-action cases.
“The claims are the same, it’s just the mechanisms are different. For example, with class actions suits, you have to
fight to be the counsel,” he said.
Wagner often works with clients going through challenging times and said it’s important to manage their
“No one comes to me because they’re happy about something. There’s definitely a lot of handholding that goes on
in my cases,” he said. “I’m straightforward with my clients and realistic about the outcome. ... By doing that, clients
come away from a situation more satisfied.”
Wisconsin Law Journal:
What makes your work important to you?
K. Scott Wagner:
The ability to find creative and innovative solutions for people in need. Often times clients come
in with a problem they feel is insurmountable or that they are destined for some long, drawn-out legal battle that
cannot be avoided. The best part of my job is finding a quick and economical solution/compromise that solves the
problem without getting them unnecessarily bogged down with the cost and negative energy of litigation that can
Who is your hero in the legal field?
Ironically, my hero in the legal field is my brother, Jeff Wagner, who now refers to himself as a recovering
lawyer. Jeff was a federal prosecutor when I was a broadcast communication major at Marquette and Jeff talked me
into going to law school because there was “no money in broadcasting.” Jeff, of course, is on the radio at WTMJ and
I am still a lawyer envying his hours. Jeff taught me that integrity was everything, both in the law and in life, and
that candor was critical both with the courts and opposing counsel. It is a lesson I have always remembered.
What do you do outside of work to deal with stress from the office?
About five years ago I started working out regularly to help deal with stress and I lost about 40 pounds.
While my physical form is still a work in progress, the workouts are very helpful in getting away from the job. I also
play tennis weekly with my 17-year-old daughter and another father/daughter duo. I coach my soon to be 9-year-
old son’s soccer team in Pewaukee. Working with kids that age is a lot of fun and definitely takes your mind off of
work. My son likes to play goalkeeper though, which leads to a different kind of stress. My wife and I also like to
travel with the kids whenever we can, whether it be chasing roller coasters at Disney World or Cedar Point (in Ohio)
or simply heading to the beach.
What’s one thing many people get wrong about what you do?
A lot of people hear “litigator” and think you are looking to create litigation. The truth is you are usually
looking to avoid litigation for your clients when possible because of the inevitable cost and aggravation it causes
them. While many clients come in the door wanting to “spend whatever it takes” to prove their point, that attitude
frequently fades by bill number three, and my job is to make them get to that point at the outset rather than in the
middle of the process. Sometimes litigation avoidance just isn’t possible, but in many cases it is.
What’s your favorite memory from law school?
Graduation. I had been clerking since the second semester of my first year both in the summer and
during the year. I was ready to be a ‘real lawyer,’ or so I thought. I still had no idea about the concept of billable
hours, but quickly learned. I took a 10-day vacation right after graduation then didn’t have one for several years
Is there a certain case that stands out to you?
My favorite cases are the ones where clients become (my) friends, which happens fairly often. The one
that stands out most is FrontRange Solutions USA, Inc. v. New Road Software, Inc. 505 F. Supp. 821 (D.Colo. 2007).
New Road was sued by a much larger company that had the resources to pound it into the ground and the opposing
counsel was from a large San Francisco firm that had little respect for a lawyer from Milwaukee that did not go to
Harvard Law School. After months of contentious litigation, the court granted summary judgment dismissing the
bulk of the plaintiff’s claims and granting summary judgment on liability on my client’s counterclaim, which led to a
favorable settlement. Not only was the result satisfying, but the principals of that client remain good friends of mine
to this day.