An energetic and engaging person who has a great love for the outdoors, Dena Klotz’s has a rich history that has influenced not only her personal life but her career path as an estate planning attorney.
Dena’s former careers gives her a depth and unique skill set that differentiates her in her legal practice at Lagerlof. This intersection of skills has helped her weave together an ability to understand the emotional aspects during the planning of her clients’ estates and trusts. In addition to her social networking, she has formed meaningful and lucrative connections that makes her the powerhouse lawyer that she is.
What previous career did she have that created the person that she is today? Where can you find her when she needs to recharge her social battery? How has Echelon helped her?
Listen to Dena’s story here.
Click here to read the transcript
From Los Angeles, This is the Echelon Radio Network
Jerri Hemsworth 0:12
Hi, this is Jerri Hemsworth with the Echelon Radio Podcast and today I’m sitting with Dena Klotz. How’re you doing?
Dena Klotz 0:19
I’m good. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Jerri Hemsworth 0:20
I’m so happy to have you here because you’re relatively new member to echelon. Correct? Correct. Yeah. Okay. So when I met you, I was immediately impressed by a. what you do, and how you got to what you do. So you’re with Lagerlof which is a law firm. Tell us about what you do. And tell us about Lagerlof.
Dena Klotz 0:46
Sure. So Lagerlof is the largest and oldest law firm in Pasadena.
Jerri Hemsworth 0:52
Pasadena. largest and oldest
Dena Klotz 0:54
Jerri Hemsworth 0:54
Yeah, that’s amazing.
Dena Klotz 0:55
Yeah. And what’s been interesting is it’s kind of had a rebranding. I don’t remember exactly the year I want to say somewhere around 2020. And a bunch of smaller firms have merged into Lagerlof. And it’s got an infusion of of younger attorneys.
Jerri Hemsworth 1:13
Well that’s kind of cool.
Dena Klotz 1:15
yeah, we have about 100 people that 50 ish attorneys and 50 staff. And we’re a full service law firm. So we do estate planning and trust administration, which is what I do. We have real estate, we have corporate, we have public agency, we have litigation. I believe bankruptcy. So we’re a full service firm.
Jerri Hemsworth 1:39
Dena Klotz 1:40
And one of the things I think Lagerlof has been a really special place. I’m really happy to be there. One of the firms that merged in one of the managing partners, when they were a smaller firm would make breakfast for the firm every Friday.
Jerri Hemsworth 1:54
Dena Klotz 1:56
So now we’ve merged in, there’s about 100 people at the firm. Every Friday morning, he still comes to the office with a couple other support staff.
They don’t even bring in breakfast. Literally makes breakfast
Jerri Hemsworth 2:11
your kidding me.
Dena Klotz 2:12
Every Friday for whoever wants a fresh cooked breakfast to hang out together and connect.
Jerri Hemsworth 2:17
is that rooted in in something in his past?
Dena Klotz 2:21
I don’t know where it started. It’s just when I heard it, I was so impressed. And I think that that whole feeling kind of permeates the law firm. It’s when I went and I don’t go to the Pasadena office all the time. But I tried to go couple every couple of weeks. And the paralegal who I ran into there she was, she knew I was new. And she said to me, she’s worked a lot of places, and that this has been her favorite place to work. And I just think that overall feeling,
Jerri Hemsworth 2:47
yeah, trust the paralegals.
Dena Klotz 2:48
you know, we care. And this isn’t just a place where we’re going to work you to death, and that it’s been a really special place. I’m really happy to be there.
Jerri Hemsworth 2:58
Yeah. And and you have talked about being there. But you don’t work, as you mentioned in the Pasadena office, why not?
Dena Klotz 3:07
Correct. So one of the things Lagerlof has been looking to do is to expand. And so prior to me coming on, they did have a Seattle office. So so there was the Pasadena office and then we had a small office in Seattle, and they were looking to merge. And so they opened an Encino office. And they hired me to run, manage and grow the Encino office. And actually, I think I can be saying this. We’re about to open a Southbay office.
Jerri Hemsworth 3:37
Oh, that’s fantastic. Yeah. So it’s gonna be exciting.
Dena Klotz 3:40
Yeah so we’re growing in a really healthy way. And yeah, so I personally work in the Encino office. And in our office, there is myself, another attorney, and one support staff. However, I do everything with the Pasadena office, they like to say it’s kind of like I’m down the hall, but, not down the freeway.
Jerri Hemsworth 3:59
I love that. Yeah. And you mentioned that your estate planning,
Dena Klotz 4:03
Jerri Hemsworth 4:05
trusts, estates probates, all that stuff? Do you litigate or not litigate?
Dena Klotz 4:10
I don’t do any litigation. I’m purely transactional. And the other thing that I do a lot of is I do a lot of trust administration. You know, a lot of attorneys do estate planning and will dabble in a trust administration when a client dies. My practice is just as heavy and trust administration as it is on the estate planning side. And I do think it’s something that stands out because I correct a lot of mistakes that people do and a lot of people who do none at the first death, um, they’re just not aware that something needs to be done, right. So I do a lot on the trust administration side, which I really enjoy.
Jerri Hemsworth 4:45
That’s your favorite part, right?
Dena Klotz 4:46
I really enjoy it because there’s a lot of interaction with the clients a lot. So I really enjoyed that part of my practice. And then I’m 50% of my practice is also estate planning. So it’s a nice balance and then I personally am also managing the office and we’re looking to grow it and I’m out here doing business development and, you know, so creating that the letting people know about Lagerlof in our community, because as I said, Pasadena, it’s very well known, but kind of we’re spreading the word about Lagerlof.
Jerri Hemsworth 5:18
How does it feel for you personally, to have be entrusted? You know, they say, Hey, you’d be perfect to head up our Encino office and grow it. Is that rewarding? And is it it’s got to be a little bit scary, because this isn’t something that you do all the time.
Dena Klotz 5:34
So the interesting question actually brings tears to my eyes, it’s been really rewarding. I have a very interesting history. And I know at some point, we’ll get into that. But I had a career. And then I took a break from my career to stay home and raise my kids. I went back to school and had another career and have come back to practicing law, and even just working full time. So making a transition from being a stay at home mom, to being a full time and even in my prior career, I didn’t do that full time, my full time job was always being a mom and I dabbled in things. And it’s not too long that I’ve been back working full time. And then to have somebody come in and say, we’re going to trust you to do this, you’re exactly who we’re looking for. Because of all of these things, including the fact that I was a stay at home mom, I think that’s part of the overall package.
Jerri Hemsworth 6:30
Dena Klotz 6:31
And it was when I got this job, though. There was something very empowering about it. And it’s actually changed my life. Like the opposite. Sometimes you know, you do something, you change your life, and then you get the job for me getting this job has changed me as a person.
Jerri Hemsworth 6:46
That I can’t. That is just probably the best thing to feel. After you look back, and you and you look at where you are today. And you can say this is what changed me. Yeah, this was this is a very powerful moment in my life. And I think, especially as women, we tend to look back and go, Okay, how did we get here? Right? And, and it, there’s a lot of meaning?
Dena Klotz 7:18
Well and that somebody took a chance on me, they saw on me something that I maybe hoped was there, but wasn’t sure. And that somebody could look at me and say, yes, she can do this, even though I had never managed anything. I’ve never done business development before. You know, I had done the estate planning part like so the technical aspects of what I was doing, that I, that I had experience in. But all the rest of it has just been learning as I go and to have somebody look at me and say, We know she’ll be able to figure this out. That was huge.
Jerri Hemsworth 7:52
A lot of trust.
Dena Klotz 7:53
Jerri Hemsworth 7:53
Yeah. And you handle some pretty large clients. I mean, your clients aren’t all small,
small estates. So what size clients? Or do you really love working with?
Dena Klotz 8:06
You know, it’s so funny, you get asked that a lot. And what’s interesting, and in my perfect particular field, is people identify themselves as the size of the estate that they work for, you know, some people say I work with, you know, a couple million dollars and under really small estates. And then some people say I work with a states, five to 20 million, and then some people will say 20 to 50, and then some ultra wealthy. I have literally worked on estates as small as a half a million dollars, to literally half a billion dollars. So the range of clients that I’ve worked with is vast. For me, what I love about my profession is the relatability working with the clients, the relationship, it’s not about the size of the estate. It’s really about, do I really connect with this client? And can I help them? But to answer your question, probably my favorite client is a youngish couple that has a house that probably has maybe call it $5 million-ish has maybe their first child or you know, one or two kids have never had an estate plan. So I’m actually teaching them the value of what they’re doing. They’re looking to me for the guidance. And so again, somebody’s not just coming in, and I’m just drafting a trust for them. We’re actually having conversations. That’s probably my very, very favorite, but you can have it in other situations. I have a client right now who is on his second marriage. He’s got two adult kids, and really wants to try to find a way that it’s fair for his current wife and for his kids. And really, I’ve had half a dozen conversations with him we’ve rewritten as trust a half a dozen times, because it’s really working with him to figure out how we can meet his goals and make everyone comfortable with the situation. So it’s funny in some ways, those are the clients I lose money on, because I spent so much time with them. However, it’s the client that fills my heart.
Jerri Hemsworth 10:21
And that’s what you love.
Dena Klotz 10:22
Jerri Hemsworth 10:22
That’s and and you mentioned briefly relating to clients. What career did you have before law?
Dena Klotz 10:34
Yes. So as they said, I stayed home. And at a certain point, I, I went back to school, and I got a master’s in marriage and family therapy. And that was both to do work on myself. It had to do with my fascination with couples and relationships. I just find relationships in general fascinating.
Jerri Hemsworth 10:56
And that just has to tee you up for exactly what you’re doing right now.
Dena Klotz 10:59
Right. And so I went back and I got my degree. And I specialized in working with couples, I actually was, I got us a certification and a specific type of couples therapy called Imago. And which is very communication based, and really, really worked with primarily couples and relationships and people in that area. So that works very well, in my current profession.
Jerri Hemsworth 11:28
I, I almost think many attorneys should have
something, you know, be trained in a lot of that.
Dena Klotz 11:35
It gives me a really unique skill set in working with clients that aren’t just coming in your first marriage one kid, but you know it even then, so I have this young couple, where they, you know, whose family do they name as guardian? Whose family becomes the trustee? And so that’s the conversation and they’re tricky conversations. So just having the ability to step back and not look at it just from an estate planning point of view. But to really dig in with them. What does this mean? What does this look like?
Jerri Hemsworth 12:03
Relationships? Yeah, Big time, big time. And you also know real estate.
Dena Klotz 12:08
Yeah. So in that time that I was staying home, my mom was in the real estate field. And so, you know, I thought this could be fun. Plus, my ex husband and I would buy and sell a lot of houses for ourselves. We were moving a lot so I got my real estate, well my broker’s license, and dabbled in it personally until I can’t remember what year that was. But at some point, for a while, I did work within the real estate field out in Calabasas.
Jerri Hemsworth 12:36
So you’ve got real estate in your background? Yeah, you’ve got a couple relationships, you know, in your knowledge, and law. And that makes you in my book, like a powerhouse.
Dena Klotz 12:49
Jerri Hemsworth 12:50
I mean, really, truly, Deena, I hope you
Dena Klotz 12:52
Jerri Hemsworth 12:53
take time to go. Yeah, I got this. And that’s what you bring. I’m I know it with not even knowing the firm. Lagerlof probably saw that one. Yeah, we need this.
Dena Klotz 13:05
Thank you. I do think it is, again, different people have different things that stand out. Often it’s the size of the estate that they work with. I have that but I do think that that’s not even do I think I know because I’ve been told it is that element that I bring into the room, the relatability, the genuineness is which brought me into being the therapist, it’s those skills to really be able to listen in a way that I think people don’t know how to listen, that clients walk out of my office feeling really cared for, heard. The documents, a lot of us can draft the documents, you know, that that’s not you have to learn to how to do it. But that’s not something that’s brain science, you know. The rest of it is I do think what I bring to the table and to your point being entrusted with that has helped integrate into me that it’s real, you know, on one level you know, it’s there, but that other people are recognizing and and seeing and, and walking out of my office. I now realize what a special skill set that is.
Jerri Hemsworth 14:09
And everything leading to this point has been a building block.
Dena Klotz 14:12
Jerri Hemsworth 14:13
Which is amazing when you when you look back, and you’re also outgoing. I mean, you’re very easy to chat with. You’re easy to approach. And we were also just briefly talking about what you like to do when you’re not working. And you mentioned mountain biking and biking, and that you like to be outdoors and active, physically active. Have you always been that way ever since you were a kid?
Dena Klotz 14:39
I’ve always been physical. My mom for people who are older will remember the Jane Fonda days. So my mom used to go to Jane Fonda’s exercise class with Jane Fonda and I would sit in the corner of the studio when I was a little kid. So I think this idea of exercise was always in integrated into my life. And so I’ve always exercise not outdoors, per se, but exercise has always been a part of my life. And then it was funny right after law school and I just started practicing. I wasn’t even I think maybe I had just gotten married. I was like, I need something. And I don’t know why I just saw something on the California AIDS ride. I think it was the second AIDS ride they ever had from San Francisco to LA.
Jerri Hemsworth 15:27
Yeah, that’s big.
Dena Klotz 15:28
All of a sudden, impulsively, I’m gonna say I’m gonna do that. Oh, I didn’t even own a bike. Oh, and been on a bike since I was a kid. And I’m like, That sounds fun. And you had to raise money. I think back then you had to raise $7,000. I had never asked somebody. Maybe it was 3500. I don’t remember what the number was. But I had never asked people for money. So now I have to go ask people for money and learn how to ride a bike clipped in and
Jerri Hemsworth 15:49
Dena Klotz 15:51
But that started my love of cycling, which I put on hold while my kids were young, because it’s just such a dangerous sport.
Jerri Hemsworth 15:57
Dena Klotz 15:58
And then pick it up again later. But I think for me, I’m sitting at a desk all day. And so as soon as I’m out of away from my desk, I just want to be outside just I want to be at the beach. I want to be riding I want to be hiking. I want to just I just want to be in nature with my phone off.
Jerri Hemsworth 16:17
And you said Dancing, dancing,
Dena Klotz 16:19
love to go out dancing. Yeah. You can find me anytime Boogie Nights is playing or spasm addicts and the canyon Club, you’ll find me there was my Converse on on the dance floor.
Jerri Hemsworth 16:29
Look for the converse.
Dena Klotz 16:30
Yeah, the little sparkly dress in the Converse. That’s me.
Jerri Hemsworth 16:34
And that is so you. We were just talking about that. Yeah, that is your personality. Yeah. 100%.
Dena Klotz 16:40
Jerri Hemsworth 16:42
You mentioned you have a group of friends you do game night with? What type of games? board game? Yeah.
Dena Klotz 16:49
Yeah. So I think again, that relatability is also who I am. Personally, I like to say I’m a social. I’m a social introvert because I recharge alone, but I’m very social. But because of that, I’d like intimate gatherings. Yeah, small. So I’ll have you know, maybe 10 or 12 friends over we get dinner and I rotate kind of who’s there. So different people get to meet different people. And there’s always different personalities, and you guys will have to come. They’re really fun. And then we play Scattegories, Pictionary, Tellestration. Sometimes we play games that are kind of made up. I’m trying to think I mean, they’re all over the place. And we pick different games, and different people just get to know each other. It’s great for connecting. In fact, I just got a new game. We haven’t played it mafia, which I think is a role playing game. I haven’t read the directions yet. So I can’t play it till we read the directions. But that’s next on my list.
Jerri Hemsworth 17:47
Oh my gosh, that sounds great.
Dena Klotz 17:49
Jerri Hemsworth 17:49
I’m with you, I believe, like networking, or when we have events, for Echelon. And I remember our first Christmas party. I had little activities and games around the yard. It was at Roshan Ghaznavi house in Tarzana. And we had tasting stations. But everybody once they had they did a tasting there were I had these finger clips that lit up. And if you had a full hand of finger clips glowing in the night, you were taking an Uber, you know,
Dena Klotz 18:24
I love that. Right
Jerri Hemsworth 18:28
and fun and that was, you know, those sorts of activities. There was also trivia and yeah, and there were other fun, and I love putting together prizes, you know, getting to know each other and writing down answers. And to me, I think that makes it when it’s fun.
Dena Klotz 18:45
Jerri Hemsworth 18:46
It’s not networking, it’s just enjoying life.
Dena Klotz 18:49
Well, and this isn’t even meant to it truly is purely social, but the networking that just comes out of it, and then
Jerri Hemsworth 18:55
Dena Klotz 18:56
It’s also because I’m single, I’ve met a lot of women who are single. And what’s interesting is most of them will say to me, I don’t have any other single friends or I don’t really have anything to do and I don’t know why that is i I’m very fortunate I have a huge friend group. And so I will often say just come and then so now somebody new is integrated, and they’ll maybe connect with one or two people and so it’s not even meant to be a personal or professional networking, but it just kind
Jerri Hemsworth 19:24
Dena Klotz 19:24
Jerri Hemsworth 19:25
And that’s the best kind but
Dena Klotz 19:27
I do want to say that in terms of Echelon, you guys have done such an amazing job of creating something that is a little different. If anybody goes on to LinkedIn, they’ll see this. My Calabasas Echelon group, we’ve spent the summer doing our meetings on boats in Westlake and tooling around and to your point it’s it’s networking. So Lagerloff. I’m still networking and
Jerri Hemsworth 19:56
Definitely I can attest to that. I’ve been to the meeting.
Dena Klotz 19:58
However it It creates an informality to it. And a, we actually go much more the backside of the card. And it kind of has that same feel of it feels like this is much more personal. And now these are people that you really want and that you really want to do business with. I’m having lunch next week with somebody who I just met. We had our boat night two nights ago. And I don’t know that I would have bonded with him the same way that I did, but for the way that we were on the boat and just really getting to know each other.
Jerri Hemsworth 20:29
Yeah. And that was, you know, when we started Echelon I, you know, having been in multiple networking organizations and in leadership positions, I always wanted people to have more, you know, that that didn’t have to be hard. It didn’t have to be joyless, or, you know, I got to go to another meeting. And to me, you know, sort of bringing in that natural humanistic component is so vital. And then, of course, having the marketing background being able to promote our members.
Dena Klotz 21:02
Jerri Hemsworth 21:02
That to me, it’s not difficult, like doing what we’re doing right now, this is fun. This is not just oh, oh, I gotta put this down. And, okay, I got I guess I’ll go do this now, you know, kind of thing. And I got to a point in my life where I said, I don’t want to do that anymore. And I don’t think I want my members to have to feel that way. So that’s why Yeah, thank you for that.
Dena Klotz 21:24
No, I am also, in doing this involved in a lot of different networking groups right now. This has, first of all, been the most fun group of all of them. And I’m in two different groups. I’m in the Calabasas group, and I’m in the trust and estates group. So first of all, it’s been the most fun, like, I actually look forward to my meetings, I almost feel guilty, I feel like I’m going to a social event and not a work event.
Jerri Hemsworth 21:53
Dena Klotz 21:55
The people that I’ve met are unbelievable. And actually, of all my networking groups have also been my greatest sources of referral, because I think we’ve gotten to know each other.
Jerri Hemsworth 22:04
Dena Klotz 22:05
This, these experiences. And so you know, I will tell you, I constantly am talking about Echelon and telling people that it’s an incredible organization, and you have done an amazing job of, you know, creating something that I think is unique in this area.
Jerri Hemsworth 22:22
Yeah, thank you. I really appreciate that. And, and it’s purposeful. And that’s kind of again, back into where I am. And, and my partners are it this is purposeful. It’s not, it’s not about walking out with our hands out. It’s walking out with our hearts out. Yeah. And that is vital to our mission and creating that environment. So I appreciate that.
Dena Klotz 22:47
That is the experience that I’m having. So I appreciate it. And we also, you know, in our trust in estate one especially that we also do a lot of masterminding where it’s really working with each other to help each other by bringing what we bring to the table and collaboratively working in our different fields. Or, you know, last month they somebody was brought in to talk about something that I never would have had any exposure to that was really interesting that I actually have a client that it might work for it. That’s just something that never would have been on my radar.
Jerri Hemsworth 23:17
Right. Right. It was I was at that meeting. And it was very inspiring.
Dena Klotz 23:21
Jerri Hemsworth 23:22
Because it did create sparks. And that’s yeah, that’s what’s worth it. That’s what makes it you walk away going, aha.
Dena Klotz 23:32
Jerri Hemsworth 23:32
You know, this could be a solution. And ah its worth it.
Dena Klotz 23:34
Yeah. And that’s also why, you know, I part of why I have so many degrees, which I know it’s funny, but I love learning. I’m curious about all these things. And so Echelon has not just been about me networking. I’ve learned so much about these different areas. And that’s what’s really fun about it, too.
Jerri Hemsworth 23:52
Right. Well, thank you for that. I appreciate that. And thank you so much for being here today. It’s been great. I love getting to know you.
Dena Klotz 24:00
Thank you for making it easy. Jerry knows I was very very, very nervous about this like beyond nervous and you made this really easy. So thank you.
Jerri Hemsworth 24:08
Well, thank you. I appreciate it. And we’ll talk soon.
Dena Klotz 24:11
Presented by Echelon Business Development. More than just networking. Way more!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai