Executive Spotlight Q&A: Scott Hensgens
Photography by Don Kadair
Position: Managing partner
Company: Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson
Family: Wife, Lauren; three children: Caroline, 8; George, 7; and Henry, 7
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Education: Catholic High School, LSU and Tulane Law School
What was your first job and what was your takeaway from the experience?
When I was a child, my father was a rice farmer in the Crowley area. My first job was shoveling harvested rice into very large trucks to be taken to the rice mill. I was paid 50 cents per truck, which I am sure violated several child labor laws. It taught me that I was not cut out for working on a farm and that air conditioning is a wonderful thing.
At what point in your life did you know you’d want to become a lawyer what made you think it might be a good career for you?
After I finished shoveling rice into the first truck! In all seriousness, I do not recall a time in my life when I wanted to be anything other than a lawyer. I always considered it a noble profession that would give me the opportunity to help people with real problems. I was lucky enough to spend a part of my first summer in law school as a law clerk with my current firm. Within two weeks, I would have immediately accepted a permanent job offer. It felt like home, and it still does. I am tremendously blessed to be able to go to work every day with a group of the best people that I know. This can be a tough business, but working with people for which you genuinely care makes it very fulfilling.
You joined Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson in 1997, shortly after graduating from Tulane, and you’ve been with the firm for nearly 21 years now. What have been the biggest changes in your profession and practice area over the past two decades?
Technology. When I began practicing in 1997, the widespread use of commercial e-mail was relatively new. Computers were processing at a fraction of their current speed. We were still spending long, long hours in our law library researching and “Shepardizing”—a term that some young lawyers won’t even recognize—everything by hand in the books. Now, virtually all legal research is done on the computer. Some firms are even using artificial intelligence to streamline legal research. It has been fascinating watching the rate of technological advancement in the legal industry.
What are your favorite types of cases to work on, and what types would you rather not see come across your desk?
I have always enjoyed trademark law. I have obtained dozens of federal and state trademark registrations for clients, and I have litigated several trademark infringement disputes. It is a very interesting area of the law, and it is an area with which most lawyers have very little familiarity. I have always thought that family law and criminal law would be the hardest areas in which to practice because of the emotional toll taken on everyone involved.
What’s something about your job that might surprise people?
About 8 ½ years ago, I was elected managing partner of our firm, a position that I still hold. I was 38-years-old. Lawyers can be notoriously difficult to manage. They are generally very intelligent, driven and have Type A personalities. Some people thought I was crazy to jump into that position at such a young age. I recall the managing partner of another local firm being quoted in an article shortly after the announcement. He had some questions as to whether some of the more experienced lawyers in our firm would respect a much younger lawyer with a tough message to deliver, which has to be done from time to time. Because of our culture, that has never been an issue. We are an extremely congenial and collegial group, and we can disagree without being disagreeable. I can honestly say that I have never, in 8 ½ years, had a lawyer discount any message that I have had to deliver, no matter how tough.
If you hadn’t gone into law, what other professions do you think you may have been successful at?
That is a tough. Twenty years ago, I would have said that I was put on this earth to be a lawyer. Over the last several years, though, I have had the opportunity to practice law less and manage the business side of our firm. That requires the use of a different part of my brain and the development of skills that I did not have before. I think I could have been successful in business.
What’s your usual morning routine to get the day off to a good start?
My morning routine is always the same: I pack the kids in the car, drive them to school and I walk them into the gym for morning assembly. There, I generally get a hug and a kiss from my daughter and, if I am lucky, a high-five or a fist-bump from my twin sons. I have a quick chat with some of the other parents, attend mass with the kids if there is one scheduled, and head to work very thankful that I was able to start my day with my children.
What’s the greatest personal or professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome, and how did you do it?
Although I have had some bumps in the road, I have been amazingly blessed and lucky. I have an amazing wife who I love dearly, three wonderful kids that bring me more joy than I could ever imagine, more friends than I ever thought I would have, and the opportunity to work with my best friends every day. I am not sure that I deserve any of it, but I am incredibly thankful for all of it.
What advice would you give someone who is considering becoming a lawyer in Louisiana?
Got to law school in Louisiana.
What are your best productivity hacks?
I am not a huge tech guy. I am an old-fashioned list keeper. I make “to do” lists almost daily. I get a great deal of satisfaction from checking items off of a list. It makes me feel like I am accomplishing things.
You’re taking me out to a business lunch in the Capital Region. Where are we going and what do you recommend I order?
The City Club. It’s the perfect spot for a business lunch—especially if you have a connection to downtown. Since Chef Eric Brandt was hired, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
What are some of your hobbies, or favorite things to do in your free time?
I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I don’t have any serious hobbies. I do not play golf, hunt or fish, although I enjoy fishing very much. However, that is mostly intentional. I have a rather full work schedule, which means I have limited time to spend with Lauren and the kids. There aren’t too many things that are important enough to me to miss the chance to watch one of the kids’ sporting events, attend a school or church function, have a movie night, or just hang out. I get a tremendous amount of joy and a great sense of pride from spending time with the four people most important to me.
With a demanding career and as a husband and father of young children, how do you go about ensuring you have a healthy work-life balance?
Two of the most important things in my life are my family and my law firm—in that order. While I would sacrifice pretty much anything for either, ensuring a good work-life balance is simply a matter of priorities. When I am at work, I focus on work. When I am at home, I focus on home, to the extent humanly possible. I try to make it home at a decent hour to help with homework, bath time and to spent a little quality time with them before the head off to bed. We also try to make sure that we expose the kids to as much as the city has to offer—the Baton Rouge Zoo, the Ebb & Flow Festival, and local runs like the Children’s Hospital Amazing Run.
What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken and what the next vacation you’re planning?
I have been fortunate to take some pretty neat vacations. A couple of jaunts to Europe, including six weeks in Greece when I was in law school. A few trips to the islands. But my favorite vacation was just this past summer. Lauren and I took the kids to Vail, Colorado. It was the first time the kids had been on a plane, and it was the first time I had ever been in the Rockies during the summer. Rafting. Horseback riding. Zip lines. Ropes courses. Hiking up Vail Mountain with the kids before sun-up every morning. It was amazing. We are currently planning a trip to San Diego this summer with the kids.