Spencer Fane LLP is pleased to announce the addition of associates Leslie DeGonia, Hillary Martel, Ben Shantz, and Blake Smith, all recent graduates of top Missouri law schools.
“We are delighted to have such talented and innovative attorneys joining our firm,” said Patrick J. Whalen, Spencer Fane Managing Partner. “Through academic, professional, and community achievements, they have already distinguished themselves during their law school careers. We welcome their fresh insights and skills as we continue providing our clients with the highest service possible.”
Shantz and Smith will join the litigation and dispute resolution team, and DeGonia will work across a range of matters relating to litigation, corporate, real estate and other business-related issues. Martel, a registered nurse, will devote most of her time to the firm’s health care practice. All four exhibited their exceptional talent as summer associates and law clerks for the firm.
About the associates:
DeGonia has received a variety of accolades for her writing skills and legal knowledge. She earned a law degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis where she served as the executive notes editor of the Washington University Jurisprudence Review. She was recognized several times for her academic achievements, receiving the CALI Excellence for the Future Award in both entertainment law and copyright law. She was selected as a runner-up in the 2017 Entertainment Law Initiative Writing Competition, which granted her the opportunity to attend the Grammy Awards. In addition, DeGonia was a member of the ABA Representation in Mediation Team, the Sports and Entertainment Law Society and the Women’s Law Caucus. She is also a member of Missouri Athletic Club. DeGonia gained valuable work experience by interning with the Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic at Washington University.
Before law school, DeGonia graduated summa cum laude from the University of Missouri in Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and anthropology, a minor in business and a certificate in multicultural studies.
DeGonia assists clients across multiple practice areas from the St. Louis office of Spencer Fane.
Martel’s combination of medical and legal knowledge gives her an in-depth understanding of the needs of the firm’s health care clients. The former practicing nurse recently graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law where she served as managing editor of the UMKC Law Review. She was also recognized with the CALI Excellence for the Future awards in the area of Legal Writing and Consumer Protection. Because of her exceptional writing and researching skills, she was tapped to be a teaching assistant for the Lawyering Skills class, instructing first-year law students in research, writing and legal analysis.
Martel also excelled in her medical career. After graduating from the University of Kansas School of Nursing, she worked for two years as a registered nurse in the medical intensive care unit of the University of Kansas Hospital.
Based in the firm’s Overland Park, Kansas office, Martel leverages her unique perspective and variety of skills to assist clients with health care-related legal issues.
Shantz’s excellent oral and written communication skills as well as his leadership ability garnered him several honors and awards while earning his law degree at Washington University in St. Louis. He received the CALI Excellence for the Future award in U.S. and comparative alternative dispute resolution and was selected as the associate editor of the Washington University Jurisprudence Review. He also had an article published in the school’s law review.
Shantz, who graduated from Duke University with undergraduate degrees in history and public policy, has a strong interest in public service. He serves as a governor-appointed member of the Missouri Boards and Commissions Task Force, which works to streamline government statewide. He also is involved in many community organizations.
Shantz serves clients from the firm’s Springfield, Missouri office. He will help clients with litigation matters as well as other legal issues affecting their businesses, such as contract law and labor and employment advice.
Smith continually demonstrates excellence in all his endeavors. He graduated magna cum laude with pro bono honors from the University Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) School of Law, served as an editor for the UMKC Law Review and participated in a clinic that provided legal assistance to low-income entrepreneurs. He also represented his school in various academic competitions, including mock trials, moot court appellate arguments, settlement negotiations and term sheet negotiations. Upon his graduation, UMKC’s faculty nominated Smith to the Order of the Barristers, a national organization dedicated to advancing the effective use of oral advocacy and brief writing.
While in law school, Smith worked as a pro se writ clerk at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. He also interned for Judge Gary Witt of the Missouri Court of Appeals and for Judge Roseann Ketchmark of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. In addition, he interned at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, where he aided investigations into complex trading activity.
Smith devotes his time to litigation and dispute resolution issues and serves clients from the Kansas City, Missouri office of Spencer Fane.