The floundering economy, and in particular its effects on people of color, will be the subject of a legal conference featuring Delaware Governor Jack Markell on Friday.

The 2009 Haile L. Alford Memorial Conference, sponsored by the Multicultural Judges and Lawyers Section of the Delaware State Bar Association, will be held at the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom at the Widener University School of Law. It will feature speakers from private industry, volunteer services, and the legal community. Ballard Spahr is a sponsor of the event.

Emilie R. Ninan, a noted public finance attorney and a partner in Ballard Spahr's Wilmington office, will moderate a discussion exploring whether people of color have experienced a disproportionate impact with respect to housing foreclosures, increased rates of unemployment, and decreased access to health care and educational and legal services.

"As harsh as the economic climate has been on all of us, it is particularly difficult for those with fewer resources and less access to services," Ms. Ninan said. "It is especially important to keep those people in mind during extraordinarily difficult times. The conference will offer a local perspective on a national problem."

Panelists include Rashmi Rangan of Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council Inc., Paulette Sullivan Moore of the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Deborah Wilson of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, and Vivian L. Rapposelli of the Department of Services for Children, Youth & Families. Governor Markell will speak on the state of the Delaware economy. The Alford Conference is an example of the MJL Section's efforts to foster communication and understanding among diverse groups within the legal and business communities.

Ballard Spahr was recently named one of the top 100 law firms in the country for both women and people of color by Multicultural Law magazine. All of the partners in the firm's Wilmington office are women, and two are women of color.

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