Ballard Spahr has been awarded Gold Standard Certification by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) for the sixth consecutive year. Ballard Spahr is among an elite group of law firms that has consistently attained this recognition since inception of the program in 2011—a notable achievement as the bar for several criteria was set even higher in 2016.

WILEF is the premier organization for women in law dedicated to helping women in the largest law firms and corporate law departments advance their careers by developing a sense of empowerment and becoming leaders. WILEF will present the Gold Standard Certification awards on September 22 at The Yale Club in New York City during a ceremony marking the organization’s 10th anniversary.

"The women whose achievements helped to bring this recognition to the firm are exceptional lawyers and leaders," firm Chair Mark Stewart said. "They support one another and they are visible and vigilant advocates, reminding us that as much progress as we have made, there is more work to be done."

The Gold Standard Certification is based on objective criteria for female participation in firm and practice management and governance, as well as the promotion and compensation of women attorneys. It emphasizes leadership positions achieved by women equity partners and recognizes firms for their commitment to promoting and fairly compensating women and for successfully integrating outstanding female attorneys into the highest echelons of leadership.

"Diversity and inclusion are hallmarks of our firm’s culture, and our commitment to both starts at the top," said Lynn E. Rzonca, co-leader of the firm’s Ballard Women affinity group. "Firm Chair Mark Stewart sets the tone with his commitment to creating a culture of inclusion that provides leadership roles for our outstanding women partners and creates a pathway to partnership for women associates that is supported by the entire leadership team."

The results of this dedication speak for themselves. Ballard Spahr exceeded four out of six criteria for the 2016 WILEF Gold Standard Certification. For example, women constitute 27.2 percent of the firm’s equity partners, represent 66 percent of the 2015 partnership class, and comprise 50 percent of the firm’s compensation committee.

"Having talented, successful, and business-savvy women lawyers is the key to Ballard Spahr continuing to achieve Gold Standard Certification," Ms. Rzonca said. "By practicing inclusive behavior, we have made significant strides raising women to the highest levels of our firm and keeping them there, which enables us to recruit other dynamic women."

Ballard Spahr has been ranked as one of the 100 best U.S. law firms for women attorneys by Law360 as part of its annual Glass Ceiling report issued in April. Last year, the firm had the fourth-highest percentage of women equity partners of any U.S. law firm— nearly 10 percent higher than the national average—according to a study by The American Lawyer.

The firm sponsors two affinity groups for women. Ballard Women, which includes partners, counsel, and of counsel, hosts events for women clients and prospective clients; develops mentoring programs for their younger counterparts; and sponsors professional development programs. In addition, the Ballard Women Associates group provides opportunities for networking, mentoring, and professional development. Together with Ballard Women, it is a resource to law students and young lawyers.