Spencer Fane: A Beacon of Legal Excellence

Spencer Fane LLP is not just a law firm, it’s a hub of legal excellence and client-focused service. Founded in Missouri in 1952, Spencer Fane enjoys a rich history of serving clients with outstanding legal representation. Now with 23 offices nationwide, the firm has established itself as a trusted partner in various practice areas including corporate law, litigation, real estate and more.

A testament to the virtually unparalleled success of this firm is its uninterrupted streak of double-digit percentage growth, which reached an impressive 10 consecutive years in 2022. This feat is a result of the firm’s unwavering commitment to excellence, client service and innovation.

The year 2023 has seen Spencer Fane continuing its remarkable growth trajectory. In June, the firm once again was recognized as one of the fastest growing law firms on the annual AmLaw 200 list. This prestigious recognition reaffirms the firm’s dedication to providing top-tier legal services and its ability to navigate a rapidly changing legal landscape.

There’s a lot of freedom for each individual to become the kind of lawyer and develop the kind of practice they want.

Kimberly Slay, Randi Winter, Karen Olson and Jessica Nelson

Twin Cities Triumph

Ever since first opening its doors in downtown Minneapolis in 2019, Spencer Fane has taken its place among the top echelon of law firms in this legal corridor. This nationally renowned firm has made its mark in the Twin Cities thanks to its exceptionally talented and experienced bench of attorneys such as Randi Winter, Jessica Nelson, Kimberly Slay and Karen Olson.

Each of these gifted professionals has contributed to the firm’s continued success with their exceptional skills and commitment to making a positive impact. 

“Our remarkable and continued growth over the last decade can be attributed to studying our client base and where they have legal needs,” says Nelson. “We then carefully recruit and vet the right people to join our firm.”

“It’s important to note that our growth hasn’t been just for growth’s sake,” observes Olson. “It was growth that made sense for the firm and the practice area and the people.”

There is also a deliberate focus on diversity and how they can recruit people to join the firm who will contribute to that priority. The firm recently merged with a California-based firm that contributes to its diversity numbers and extends its geographical reach to the West Coast.

Setting Goals

Part of the firm’s continued success both nationwide and locally has been a concerted effort to identify specific goals. With a clear blueprint, the team can move forward building both their client list and the talented pool of attorneys.

According to Olson, those goals include recruiting talent to bolster each department within the local office. “There’s an effort to round out the various practice areas. For instance, we recently brought on a real estate partner and a partner who does patent prosecution, again recognizing the needs of our clients and recruiting the people who will best fill those needs. Of course, every new member of our team must support our values and positively contribute to our office culture.” 

Maintaining the office culture is paramount, but what is that culture exactly?

“First and foremost, it’s a very collegial culture,” says Nelson. “One of the things our senior partners talk about is the importance of humility, and all the people here are very nice. It’s a positive atmosphere because everyone is kind and respectful of one another. Everyone is always willing to help, and egos don’t play a role at all despite how talented and successful each individual might be.”

“People come first,” adds Winter. “Whether that means respecting the fact that we have lives outside of the office or just being kind and respectful to one another. Of course, when you have a culture like that, all the positive aspects filter down to our clients.”

Kimberly Slay, Randi Winter, Jessica Nelson and Karen Olson

Female Leadership

Karen Olson, Kimberly Slay, Jessica Nelson and Randi Winter

Each of these women had successful careers prior to joining Spencer Fane, so what brought them to this particular firm?

“Jessica, our managing partner, Don Heeman, and I were the first three attorneys to join Spencer Fane here in the Twin Cities, and we opened the Minneapolis office in January 2019,” says Winter. “We were all drawn to the success and growth that Spencer Fane had already experienced. But what differentiated it, at least for me, was how genuine the people of Spencer Fane were when I met with them about the possibility of coming over. They demonstrated the values they said they believed in. Spencer Fane, unlike many of the firms that have come into our market recently, actually originated in the Midwest and very much has those Midwest values. Our core values are humility, inclusivity and collaboration. I was drawn to those values and very excited about the opportunity to take what I had before, which was a Minnesota-based employment and commercial litigation practice and be able to scale it up into a more national practice.”

“I would add that I also appreciated the firm’s strategic, measured and deliberate growth, and always seeking to improve,” offers Nelson. “You could tell that this was a firm that was always studying our client’s needs. Studying the legal market and always asking the question, ‘how can we serve our clients better?’ It’s a firm you want to be a part of because they are always trying to improve.”

“For me, I appreciate the freedom to develop my own practice”, adds Slay. “The freedom to market where and how I want to market and retain clients I would like to represent. Management trusts us to make smart decisions regarding client intake. I also enjoy working with attorneys in our 23 offices. My colleagues are smart, excellent attorneys, and humble. It was clear to me that these were the types of people I would want to work with every day.”

Each of the women also pointed out the flexibility the firm allows, particularly in how they have grown their individual practices, and the ability to use their personal marketing budgets at their discretion.

“It’s a very entrepreneurial environment,” Nelson says. “There’s a lot of freedom for each individual to become the kind of lawyer and develop the kind of practice they want.”

Diversity in Action

It seems that everyone is talking about diversity today, but what does that mean exactly and how is it evidenced in the Spencer Fane offices? Diversity, equality and inclusion are not just words or a public relations slogan for this firm. There is a deliberate effort to build a firm that reflects people from virtually every aspect of the spectrum.

“Diversity can cover a wide range,” says Olson, “as far as gender, race, even how someone may have grown up, whether they were rural or city, poverty, or wealth. For our firm, we welcome the variety because it brings so many different perspectives.”

“Spencer Fane excels at placing people from diverse backgrounds in key positions,” Slay says. “When you look at the executive committee, you’ll note that there are two African American females on that committee. We have people of color chairing practice sections. We’re not just a firm that believes in diversity, we live it.”

This impressive growth and commitment to excellence and diversity have not gone unnoticed. The firm is currently shortlisted as the Best Law Firm of the Year by the American Lawyer. Being considered for this honor is a reflection of the outstanding contributions Spencer Fane brings to the legal profession and its continued dedication to client success. The ability to adapt to client needs, attract top talent, and maintain its growth momentum is an indication of the firm’s continued success here in Minneapolis.

At a Glance

Spencer Fane
100 S. Fifth Street,
Suite 2500
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(612) 268-7000

Practice Areas