Bentley Stansbury is a shareholder in the Long Beach office of Keesal, Young & Logan, where his practice centers on financial services litigation. Each year from 2007 to 2015, Stansbury was recognized by Law & Politics Magazine as one of Southern California’s “Rising Stars.” He routinely tries cases in civil court and arbitration, and awards in favor of his clients have been published in the Federal Reporter, the California Reporter, the Daily Journal and Securities Awards Monthly. When he is not practicing law, Stansbury spends time with his wife and two children. He also volunteers on the Board of Trustees at Port of Los Angeles High School (POLAHS) and with the National Association of Mental Illness.
Lawdragon: Can you please describe your interests as a child and any memories of what inspired you to become a lawyer? Where did you grow up?
Bentley P. Stansbury: I grew up in Manhattan Beach, California. Both of my parents were career educators, now retired, who wanted a lawyer in the family. As the oldest sibling, I did not have a choice in the matter. Thankfully, I could not be happier with my career path.
LD: Can you describe your time at the University of California, Berkeley?
BPS: I studied Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. While there I spent four years on the men’s volleyball team. I also spent my sophomore and junior years working as an administrator with Stiles Hall, a terrific volunteer organization dedicated to helping mentor grade-school children in the Berkeley school district.
LD: What led you to choose University of Southern California for your law studies?
BPS: Coming out of college, I knew that I wanted to practice law in Southern California where I was born and raised. Studying law at USC seemed like a logical step in the progression of my legal career and a great opportunity to live near the beach.
LD: Did you spend time as a summer associate with Keesal Young & Logan, or how did you come to join the firm?
BPS: I spent a year working at two different law firms before starting law school. My experiences at those two firms allowed me the opportunity to identify exactly what I was looking for in a law firm. When I visited KY&L during a callback interview and met with at least a dozen attorneys in the Long Beach office, I knew that I had found a home. KY&L is unique in that many of my partners started their career in the summer program. While laterals are commonplace elsewhere, the collegial environment at KY&L fosters a “cradle to grave” mentality where attorneys start as law clerks and retire as senior partners.
LD: Would you describe for us your first trial, and the lessons you learned in that case?
BPS: My first trial was with the founding partner of KY&L, Skip Keesal. I cannot recall if I was a second or third year, but it was early on in my practice and Skip asked me to take a witness. As it turned out, the witness was a senior partner at a large law firm and a graduate of Harvard Law. Complicating the matter, the line of questioning required avoiding tricky issues of attorney-client privilege. I do not remember the questions or how my interrogation of the witness went. What I do remember is that Skip was tremendously supportive. While I am sure that there were a million criticisms that he could have raised, Skip’s unequivocal support gave me the confidence to develop my own technique. Now years later, I try to remember that lesson when trying a case with a first-time attorney.
LD: What advice would you give to students who want to specialize in financial services law?
BPS: Try to read the Wall Street Journal or a similar financial publication each day. As attorneys, we are called on for our legal advice. But having an understanding of our client’s business is fundamental to giving good advice.
LD: What is the proudest moment of your career?
BPS: Much of my practice at KY&L centers around the representation of broker-dealers. In such instances, we are often asked to represent individual financial advisors as well as the broker-dealer. Having successfully defended a number of these cases, I have received “thank you” notes from financial advisors in which they have expressed their personal gratitude. These notes, which often expound on the importance of a defense verdict to the career of the advisor, never fail to give me a sense of pride and gratitude.
LD: What do you find fulfilling about raising awareness about mental health on the National Association of Mental Illness?
BPS: My brother was forced to withdraw from college in his sophomore year. Soon thereafter, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He has battled his illness and the vices that come with it for many years. The National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) is an organization that raises awareness of mental health issues on behalf of my brother and others like him who are battling illness on a daily basis. One of ways that NAMI seeks to raise awareness here in Los Angeles is through a walk that takes place each October. This year the walk is on October 5, 2019, and it is an opportunity for me and my family to join many, many others who are seeking to raise awareness of pressing mental health issues.
LD: What do you enjoy outside of law practice?
BPS: I have a wife who has a successful career as a financial advisor at Edward Jones, along with a 9-year old daughter and a 6-year old son. Spending time with them is what I enjoy outside the practice of law.