Ballard Spahr is one of a handful of Philadelphia law firms taking action to ensure the success of female lawyers. The firm has been named "gold standard certified" three times by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF), which is awarded to firms that have a "meaningful percentage" of women in leadership positions.

Virginia G. Essandoh, Chief Diversity Officer at Ballard Spahr, attributes the recognition to the firm's successful encouragement of women at all levels of seniority. She said that when female law students come to Ballard Spahr as summer associates, the firm provides them with different success stories about women rising through the ranks so they understand that there are different routes to partnership. The firm focuses on professional development for junior female associates, encouraging them to attend events that reinforce their networking abilities and their relationships with clients. Senior women at Ballard Spahr are able to join the "Ballard Women" group, which Ms. Essandoh said focuses on "turning business into more business" through client development.

"I think our key has been starting as early as summer associates and remaining focused," Ms. Essandoh said. "I think that there has to be recognition that women face additional barriers in the legal profession."

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