Awards and Rankings

Ballard Spahr Attorneys Dee Spagnuolo and Leita Walker Honored by National Law Journal as 'Trailblazers'

November 1, 2021

The National Law Journal (NLJ) named Ballard Spahr Partners Dee Spagnuolo and Leita Walker to its list of 2021 Trailblazers.

The honor is awarded to legal professionals who are “agents of change” and “who have moved the needle in the legal industry.”

Dee Spagnuolo is a Philadelphia-based partner in Ballard Spahr’s White Collar Defense and Internal Investigations Practice. She is the practice leader of the firm's Title IX Team and is a co-leader of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Counseling Team.

Since 2015, Ms. Spagnuolo has worked tirelessly to advise players on the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team in their pursuit of gender equity with USA Hockey. She was instrumental in securing a groundbreaking four-year contract for the players following their threatened boycott of the 2017 World Championships, and served as the lead negotiator in the 2021 negotiations to renew that contract. The story captured worldwide attention when the players—seven-time World Champions—announced that they would not defend their gold medals at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship games, which the U.S. was hosting. The threatened boycott followed more than a year of stalled contract negotiations, and resulted in a deal that provides players with a living wage, medal incentives, improved support staff, and pregnancy and childcare benefits. The team went on to win the 2017 world championships and Olympic gold in 2018.

Ms. Spagnuolo also has served as outside general counsel for the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association since its inception in 2017. The PWHPA’s stated mission is to promote, advance, and support a single, viable professional women’s ice hockey league in North America that showcases the greatest product of women’s professional ice hockey in the world.

Leita Walker is a Minneapolis-based litigator and trial lawyer in the firm's Media and Entertainment Law Group. Over the past year and a half, she ensured press and public access to judicial proceedings in a case that captivated the country: the prosecution of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

Ms. Walker represented a coalition of 16 media organizations, including The New York Times, CNN, Associated Press, and Star Tribune, to ensure that Americans—indeed, the world—could watch justice unfold in that case. Her efforts led to the first televised trial in Minnesota state history. In addition, she successfully opposed an overly broad gag order, as well as restrictions on access to exhibits filed with the court so that the press could publicly disseminate police body-worn camera footage that documented Mr. Floyd’s arrest and death.

For media inquiries, please contact Bill Shralow at 215.864.8195

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