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WJA 2021: Elizabeth Fast

Some lawyers truly love the drama of clashing in a courtroom. Elizabeth Fast is not one of them.

fast“When I was working on my MBA, I realized that attorneys didn’t just do litigation,” said the 62-year-old Spencer Fane partner. “I had never wanted to do litigation. I hate the adversarial situation. I would rather do deals. If you do your deal right, everybody’s going to be happy.”

That’s why the Kansas native, who rose to be general counsel for Boatmen’s Bank, went on to join her present organization where she’s spent two decades honing a talent for helping banks through the intricacies of transactional law.

“Elizabeth’s experience and leadership guides one of the largest practice groups at Spencer Fane. The financial services team at the firm prides itself on helping banks and other financial services entities with passion and urgency so that they can handle their matters and transactions with more precision, speed and cost efficiency,” writes Fast’s nominator. “Her past in-house experience provides perspective that allows her to best understand the challenges and pressures faced by clients while navigating the ever-changing and complex regulatory landscape of the financial services industry.”

Fast also works to pass on that understanding to others through national webinars, training sessions and the publication of a 900-page legal resource book on Missouri business law. She also regularly mentors other attorneys.

The University of Kansas graduate is now a gubernatorial appointee of Missouri’s state banking board and was named to the Kansas City Industrial Development Authority and the Housing Authority of Kansas City by the city’s mayor. She also played an active role in drafting Kansas Senate Bill 335 which was intended to help savings and loans convert from a federal to a state charter.

“Early in her career, Elizabeth often found herself as the lone female voice in a male-dominated area of law,” writes her nominator. “She at first struggled with the intimidation of this situation but developed an assertiveness that has allowed her to succeed. She passes these lessons on to other attorneys, teaching them to study all aspects of client business transactions and to anticipate questions or problems that might arise to best serve clients.”

Fast said that she always had an affinity for two things that are vital fixtures of the banking world – figures and rules.

“Numbers have always made sense to me and there is a lot of regulation associated with banks,” she said. “I’d say banks are one of the most highly regulated industries, maybe even more than health care.”

She feels that attorneys and the law play an essential role in maintaining the social contract.

“It needs to keep us as an organized society and protect us from all the bad guys,” she said.

Women's Justice Awards 2021