Naphtalie Librun-Ukiri knew from an early age that she wanted to be a lawyer. But at some point, she realized she had unwittingly put herself in a box. "I was raised in an urban environment so I thought I could be a prosecutor, because that's all I thought lawyers were," said Librun-Ukiri.

Now a first-year law student at the University of Minnesota, Librun-Ukiri is embarking on a new opportunity with a fellowship program through Ballard Spahr aimed at giving women and people of diverse races and backgrounds hands-on experience while they are early in their studies.

Librun-Ukiri is the first student to be selected in the Minneapolis office.

Karla Vehrs, who leads Ballard Spahr's Minneapolis office, said addressing the lack of diversity has become a business imperative. "There's a lot of value in making sure our population as a firm is representative of our community and the businesses we serve," she said. "Our clients, our partners in [the] business community feel similarly. Having a diverse workforce and a diverse group of attorneys in our firm is essential for the service they're looking to get from us."

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