Law Firm Leaders
Spencer Fane attorney Amy Mistler, the first female managing partner at the firm’s St. Louis office, took the helm in January 2020. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“This year has turned out very, very differently than what I anticipated,” she said. “In many ways, it was sink or swim.”
A planned emphasis on employee mental health and well-being took on added urgency as the pandemic sent the office’s 40 attorneys and an equal number of staffers into work-from-home mode. For a law firm leader who describes her style as “consensus-building,” the prolonged shift to virtual workplaces has been relatively smooth, she said.
A real estate partner at Spencer Fane since 2016, Mistler represents developers, investors, lenders and borrowers in the acquisition, development, sale, exchange, financing and leasing of office, retail, multifamily and industrial properties. Before joining the firm, she spent a decade at Gallop, Johnson & Neuman before its closure.
She now leads one of Spencer Fane’s largest offices, which makes her “an integral part of future planning” for a firm of more than 300 attorneys, her nominator wrote. Despite multiple disruptions resulting from the pandemic, Mistler took ownership of the role while maintaining a commitment to “remarkable sustained growth” at the firm, which has expanded notably in both revenue and offices in recent years, her nominator wrote.
To maintain connections with staff and clients in the past year, Mistler and two other colleagues organized a series of virtual social events that included a yoga class, a wellness event on managing stress and time, and a happy hour hosted by a professional mixologist. The events were fun and creative, her nominator wrote, and they also emphasized diversity.
After more than two decades in private practice, Mistler knows the challenges of retaining female lawyers firsthand.
“A lot of the women I started with at the beginning of my career are no longer in private practice,” she said. “Most of them are still working lawyers, but at nonprofits or as in-house counsel. Law firms need to look internally and ask why that is. The easy answer is that it’s too demanding; but that’s not always the case. Do some women leave private practice for a more flexible schedule? Of course. A lot of women also leave because they see themselves being more successful elsewhere.”
A native of Columbia, Illinois whose father practiced workers’ compensation law in the Metro East, Mistler earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and then an MBA from Saint Louis University while also working in marketing and public relations at Incarnate Word Hospital. She returned to Urbana-Champaign for law school, where she met her husband Josh, an in-house attorney at Washington University in St. Louis.
Like many ambitious young professionals in southern Illinois, the pair aimed to work in Chicago after law school. But the pull of home prevailed. Mistler settled in the same Monroe County town 12 miles south of St. Louis where she grew up and her parents and two sisters continue to live.
Mistler is the mother of three children, ages 19, 16 and 13. She’s a member of the planning commission for the city of Columbia and sits on the boards of directors for the Missouri Growth Association and Hoyleton Youth & Family Services, a southern Illinois nonprofit organization.