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Diversity + Inclusion at Ballard Spahr


Academic year: 2021

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Diversity + Inclusion at Ballard Spahr

Our clients are best served by innovative solutions that spring from varied viewpoints and perspectives. Ballard Spahr is committed to creating a vibrant community where the needs, perspectives, and contributions of people from all backgrounds are valued and integrated into all aspects of the firm. In addition to making us a stronger firm, a diverse and inclusive community is valuable to our clients because varied perspectives drive insightful counsel. We believe diversity is the natural result of an inclusive environment. Our goal is to improve employee recruitment and retention among underrepresented groups and ensure full access to opportunity for all individuals to the benefit of our clients, the legal profession, and our communities. That’s more than just a good business strategy—it is the right thing to do.

Our Strategy

Creating Diversity through Recruitment

Central to Ballard Spahr’s commitment to improving diversity is the firm’s recruiting effort. We aim not only to attract talented diverse attorneys to our offices across the country, but also to improve diversity within the legal profession.

We regularly benchmark our firm’s demographics against national surveys to identify areas where we must pay particular attention. While we aren’t focused on chasing numbers, we do allow the numbers to serve as guideposts for where attention is needed. We are proud that we exceed national benchmarks for women partners, minority partners, and women minority partners.

By partnering with affinity-based law student organizations across the country, we increase awareness of our firm and support the pipeline of law students entering the profession. Our lawyers serve on panels at the law schools, financially support organizations, and invite law students to our offices and to local events we sponsor.

Whenever a job opening occurs, we cast the widest possible net for prospective employees. We make our internal and external recruiters aware that we are looking for diverse candidate slates, and our affinity groups share open lateral positions within their networks. We also inform local and national affinity associations about open lateral positions. Lateral partner candidates are informed of our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

We participate in job fairs that attract diverse law students. For nearly 20 years, Ballard Spahr has coordinated the annual Legal Minority Job Fair sponsored by DuPont, giving minority law students across the country an opportunity to interview for summer and associate positions with DuPont’s primary law firms and legal service providers. Several of our attorneys were hired as a result of our participation in this job fair.


The firm’s Diverse Associates Group sponsors a Resume Writing and Interview Skills Workshop for Diverse First-Year Law Students. A number of our offices host the workshop, which provides local students tips on improving their resumes, along with practice interviewing.

Maintaining Diversity through Inclusiveness

Focusing on inclusiveness—the effective integration, development, and engagement of all lawyers— is paramount to maintaining diversity throughout the firm. Such an atmosphere depends on the one-on-one relationships and day-to-day interactions within the firm. Every day, we find ways to create diverse client teams, to make sure our lateral lawyers are

ingrained into the firm, to ensure our work assignment process fosters opportunity and development, and to provide support for networking and business development efforts of our affinity groups.

It also means examining the pipeline for advancement and succession in law firm leadership. We strive to ensure that our leadership ranks represent diversity across the firm. When perspectives are missing, we make an effort to fill the void. These efforts foster a greater sense of belonging, especially among our diverse lawyers, and provide them greater opportunities for access to the work, resources, and relationships that are critical to any attorney’s success.

Everyone’s contribution to a diverse and inclusive environment matters. Our firm leadership sets the tone by practicing inclusive behavior. Our leaders demonstrate that even the smallest structural, cultural, and behavioral changes can make the difference in integrating, engaging, and retaining a highly talented and diverse workforce.

Affinity Groups

Our affinity groups comprise lawyers with shared cultural, experiential, or job-related interests, experiences, or backgrounds. Affinity groups support retention through informal mentoring, internal networking, business development support, and the firm’s recruiting. Their goals and activities are carefully planned and linked to the firm’s business goals. The groups are open to all Ballard Spahr lawyers interested in supporting the firm’s diversity initiatives.

Ballard Women

Lynn E. Rzonca, Partner, Philadelphia

Ballard Women Associates

Siobhan Mairead O’Donnell, Associate, Philadelphia Melanie J. Vartabedian, Associate, Salt Lake City


Diverse Associates Group

Dameon M. Rivers, Associate, Washington, D.C.

Work-Life Flexibility Group

Lila G. Shapiro-Cyr, Partner, Baltimore

Sarah Schindler-Williams, Associate, Philadelphia

Equality Ballard: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Lawyers and Friends

Laura E. Krabill, Partner, Philadelphia Lindsey Ermey, Associate, Philadelphia

Partnering with Our Clients and the Community

Diversity and inclusion reaches outside the walls of Ballard Spahr. One way this occurs is through our partnerships with clients. We work jointly with many of our clients to support and diversity and inclusion in the firm and in the profession. Examples include informal networking through affinity groups, advising each other and sharing best practices, and working together to create diverse teams.

We also support organizations that advance diversity and inclusion and as we build the pipeline of those interested in a career in law. Whether it is lawyers and staff reading with second-graders as part of the Philadelphia Reads program, our groundbreaking sponsorship of Constitution High School for American Studies, our participation in diversity fellowship programs, or our financial and mentoring support for diverse law students, we are

contributing to a pipeline of students introduced to the legal profession.

In addition, our attorneys are participants, speakers, and leaders in affinity bar associations across the country. Our newsletter, Spectrum, keeps clients, friends, and internal lawyers abreast of our efforts in diversity and inclusion.

Diversity and Inclusion Council

Ballard Spahr’s Diversity and Inclusion Council works closely with the Chief Diversity Officer to develop, promote, and implement key initiatives to guide the firm toward its diversity and inclusion goals and to collaborate with clients on diversity and inclusion issues of mutual interest.

Chief Diversity Officer

Virginia G. Essandoh, JD


Council Members

David J. Bodney, Partner, Phoenix Barbara A. Casey, Partner, New Jersey Christopher Celentino, Partner, San Diego Wendy A. Choi, Partner, Atlanta

Alicia B. Clark, Counsel, Denver

Lucretia C. Clemons, Partner, Philadelphia Tobey M. Daluz, Partner, Wilmington

John T. DiBattista, Director of Human Resources, Philadelphia Stephanie L. Franklin-Suber, Partner, Philadelphia

John C. Grugan, Hiring Partner, Philadelphia Peter L. Haviland, Partner, Los Angeles Leslie E. John, Partner, Philadelphia Robert C. Kim, Partner, Las Vegas Justin P. Klein, Partner, Philadelphia Laura E. Krabill, Partner, Philadelphia Jon M. Laria, Partner, Baltimore

Troy E. Larson, Of Counsel, Philadelphia Mary Margulis-Ohnuma, Of Counsel, New York Karen C. McConnell, Partner, Phoenix

Siobhan Mairead O’Donnell, Associate, Philadelphia Marjorie J. Peerce, Partner, New York

Marcel S. Pratt, Associate, Philadelphia Lynn E. Rzonca, Partner, Philadelphia


Tom Sager, Partner, Philadelphia

Mary Gay Scanlon, Pro Bono Counsel, Philadelphia Mitzie V. Smith-Mack, Partner, Washington, D.C. Dee Spagnuolo, Partner, Philadelphia

Mark S. Stewart, Chair, Philadelphia

Raymond G. Truitt, Managing Partner, Finance and Operations, Baltimore Melanie J. Vartabedian, Associate, Salt Lake City

Naomi Young, Managing Partner, Los Angeles

Awards and Recognition

Ballard Spahr is making strides to improve its diversity and has received recognition as a result. Below are examples of the firm’s results and recognition.

• In 2015, we were named one of the top 100 law firms for female attorneys by Law360.

• We are ranked as one of the top law firms in the Denver area for female attorneys. • Ballard Spahr and firm Chair Mark Stewart have been recognized in Profiles in

Diversity Journal as recipients of the magazine's 2015 Diversity Leader Award. The award honors business organizations, their leaders, and diversity officers who advance diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

• In 2013, we were named to the Honor Roll of Legal Organizations Welcoming Women Professionals by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession. In March 2012, Firm Chair Mark Stewart was named to Profiles in Diversity Journal's “CEO Leadership in Action” list.

• From 2011 through 2014, we earned Gold Standard Certification from the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) for our success in providing professional opportunities and leadership roles for women attorneys.

• We exceed the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) average for similarly sized firms for percentage of women partners, minority partners, women minority partners.

• Ballard Spahr is a 10-time recipient of DuPont’s Meeting the Challenge Award, which recognizes, among other accomplishments, the firm’s diversity efforts.


• Our pipeline partnership with Constitution High School—a magnet school with a largely minority student body—won an award from the Philadelphia School District for best practices in community partnerships.

Office Activities

Ballard Spahr is a founding member of the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group (PDLG), an organization that promotes diversity in the practice of law, particularly in the Greater Philadelphia region. The Philadelphia office hosts a Resume Writing and Interview Skills Workshop for Diverse First-Year Law Students.

The Atlanta office supports the Stonewall Bar Association and hosts a Resume Writing and Interview Skills Workshop for Diverse First-Year Law Students.

Our Phoenix office is a signatory to the State Bar of Arizona Commitment to Inclusion Goals program. The program’s goals are to provide for full participation of all groups of people in the legal profession and to increase the numbers of minority and women lawyers. We also sponsor the Arizona Bar Leadership Institute, which fosters professional growth and leadership skills of diverse Arizona attorneys.

The Phoenix office also participates in the Diversity Legal Writing Program, which connects second-year minority law students with private law firms to develop writing skills and provide clerking experience.

Our Denver office is a member of the Center for Legal Inclusiveness, which brings together law firms and corporate legal departments to increase diversity and inclusiveness in the legal profession. This office hosts a Resume Writing and Interview Skills Workshop for Diverse First-Year Law Students.

Our Baltimore office hosts students from the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Charles Hamilton Houston Scholars program. This six-week program is designed to educate minority students about the legal profession and encourage them to consider a career in law. The Salt Lake City office sponsors scholarships for law students through the Utah Minority Bar Association Minority Bar Association. This office hosts a Resume Writing and Interview Skills Workshop for Diverse First-Year Law Students.

Ballard Spahr is a signatory to the American Bar Association’s Disability Diversity in the Legal Profession: A Pledge for Change, as well as the New York County Lawyers’ Association Diversity Statement.

The firm participates in the San Diego County Bar Association and Association of Corporate Counsel – San Diego Diversity Fellowship Program.

The Washington, D.C., office hosts a Resume Writing and Interview Skills Workshop for Diverse First-Year Law Students.


Supplier Diversity Statement

Ballard Spahr seeks to be inclusive in our selection and use of local counsel, legal service providers, and vendors. We actively seek to do businesses with firms owned by women, minorities, members of the LGBT community, veterans, and people with disabilities.

Non-Discrimination Policy

We are committed to providing equal employment opportunity without regard to an employee's or a candidate's race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, age, national origin, handicap or disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, veteran status, or any other category protected by law. Our policy covers recruitment, hiring, compensation, benefits, promotion, demotion, layoff, termination, work environment, and all other terms and conditions of employment.


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