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Missouri Lawyers Awards 2023: Elizabeth Wente

Partner, Spencer Fane

Elizabeth WenteElizabeth Wente knows that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and she makes sure her clients know it too.

“They will consult with me in advance of making decisions so we can assess risk and evaluate options together,” she wrote in an email interview. “This helps to reduce the potential for litigation, as well as employee relations issues and helps our clients to be better informed during the decision-making process.”

It’s a good strategy for an employment attorney like Wente, a Southern Methodist University graduate who originally thought she’d go into tax law like her grandfather. After law school, the 41-year-old worked at K&L Gates in Texas before coming to a job at Husch Blackwell. Within a few years of her 2014 arrival at Spencer Fane, she assumed her current title of partner and employment counsel.

That role affords Wente the opportunity to conduct trainings on discrimination, harassment, retaliation, unconscious bias and wage and hour issues, often with a special focus on supervisors and managers so they can understand their obligations under the law. She also advises on terminations, separation agreements, restrictive covenant enforcement, hiring questions, FMLA requests and compensation analysis.

“My hope is that by investing time and money on the front end, my clients can avoid the costs and business disruption that can come with litigation down the road,” she writes.

To that end, Wente said she enjoys her area of practice.

“There is something new almost every single day,” she writes. “Whether it is a new fact pattern (there are a lot of interesting scenarios that come up in the workplace), a new regulation or law or a new case interpretation, employment lawyers constantly have the opportunity to learn.”

Fresh off a Missouri Lawyers Weekly Up and Coming Award in 2021, Wente said her biggest accomplishment this year has been juggling her personal and professional life as a wife and mother of two. She also completed the third and final year of chairing her firm’s DEI Committee.

“Our firm has made significant strides in our DEI efforts and I was honored to be able to lead the committee through those changes,” Wente wrote.

This year, she will also begin her 2023 appointment to the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors and continue her involvement on the board of Friends of the Zoo. Former community commitments include the Child Advocacy Center and the Junior League of Springfield.

In addition to her DEI work at her firm, Wente is also a former chair of the Women ADVOCATE Leadership Committee.

Missouri Lawyers Awards 2023