Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP Chairman Arthur Makadon announced today that Virginia G. Essandoh has joined the firm as Director of Diversity.

"With Virginia, I am confident that we will make great strides in our continuing effort to be a law firm that is both inclusive and representative," Makadon said. "Virginia has a breadth of experience that will enable her to integrate diversity initiatives throughout the firm in a seamless manner and with the full support of the firm."

Ms. Essandoh gained extensive experience as a senior consultant at Altman Weil, Inc. In that position, she developed and implemented diversity initiatives, advised law firms on organization and management structures, and engaged in strategic planning for law firms and corporate legal departments. Ms. Essandoh has spoken nationally about diversity management in the legal profession and has written articles for Diversity & the Bar, Legal Times, and the New York Law Journal, among others.

Ballard's commitment to diversity spans decades. The firm's first female and African-American partners were admitted in 1971 and 1975, respectively. That commitment continues today with our incoming class of ten partners, three of whom are minorities and four of whom are women. Additionally, Ballard lawyers are engaged in diversity programs through BALLARD WOMEN, the Minority Associates Group, and the Work-Life Balance Group. BALLARD WOMEN promotes women lawyers firm wide and increases their visibility in marketing to female executives and business owners. The Minority Associates Group gathers minority non-partner lawyers in all of the firm's offices to discuss topics related to diversity and professional development. The Work-Life Balance Group brings together lawyers -- partner and non-partner, men and women, full- and part-time -- to discuss issues of mutual interest. The firm also involves its lawyers in an innovative partnership with Constitution High School to mentor and train the next generation of lawyers.

Ms. Essandoh will reinforce this commitment in her role as Director of Diversity. One of her primary tasks is working with the firm's Diversity Committee and the committee co-chairs -- Tobey Daluz, managing partner of the firm's Wilmington, DE, office and Leslie E. John, vice-chair of the Litigation Department -- to plan, execute, and monitor strategic diversity initiatives. These initiatives include strengthening the recruiting, retention, mentoring, and training of lawyers at all levels. Ms. Essandoh will be responsible for coordinating Ballard's diversity outreach efforts and the firm's participation in external diversity events, including working with clients on diversity issues of mutual interest.

"Joining a firm that has such a strong commitment to diversity is an exciting opportunity for me," said Ms. Essandoh. "I look forward to supporting the firm's already strong diversity practices as well as implementing innovative diversity initiatives and achieving positive results for the entire firm."