Virginia G. Essandoh, J.D.

Chief Diversity Officer
Tel 215.864.8192
Fax 215.864.8999

Virginia G. Essandoh serves as the firm's Chief Diversity Officer. She sits on the Management Committee and Expanded Board and is responsible for overseeing, implementing, and providing strategic leadership to Ballard Spahr's diversity initiatives.

Working closely with the Diversity and Inclusion Council, Virginia advises and collaborates with firm management, including Department Chairs, Office Managing Partners, and administrative professionals to implement the firm's diversity and inclusion strategic goals and inspire the concepts of diversity and inclusion into firm culture. This ranges from high-level development of diversity-related recruitment, development and retention, and advancement for lawyers at all levels to client collaborations that advance diversity and inclusion in the profession as a whole.

Virginia meets regularly with diverse attorneys to discuss development and advancement strategies and remains aware of issues that affect diverse attorneys. She also provides strategic guidance and tactical support to the firm's business resource groups, including Ballard Women, helping to develop business and encouraging the development and advancement of female lawyers.

In addition, our Chief Diversity Officer serves as the public voice for Ballard Spahr's diversity-related outreach efforts, coordinates the firm's participation in external diversity events, and is a liaison to clients and other external constituencies regarding diversity initiatives.

Before joining the firm, Virginia was senior consultant at Altman Weil, Inc. In this capacity, she assisted in developing and implementing diversity and gender initiatives and strategies in private law firms and corporate legal departments; advised on organizational and management structures for law firms and corporate legal departments; and facilitated law firm strategic planning, client satisfaction, strategic marketing, and management structure analysis for her clients.

Professional Activities

College of Law Practice Management, Fellow

Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals

Barristers' Association of Philadelphia

LEADERSHIP Philadelphia Class of 2008

Mortgage Bankers Association Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Committee, 2017-2018

Ballard Spahr's Diversity and Inclusion Council

Recognition & Accomplishments

Behavioral Coaching Institute, Certified Master Coach

Recipient, National Diversity Council Special Award recognizing women leaders in Pennsylvania, October 2013


Co-author, "10 Characteristics of Inclusive Leadership, American Bar Association, Business Law Section," Business Law Today, April 21, 2020

"Sponsorship Programs As A Talent Investment," The Practical Lawyer, February, 2020

Co-author, "Build A Better Boat: Women in Law: 47/44/20," Law Week Colorado, May 9, 2016 

Co-author, "The Leader's Role in Diversity and Inclusion: Transformational Leadership," Law Week Colorado, March 21, 2016

"Keeping Watch at the Gate to Implement Diversity, Inclusion," The Legal Intelligencer, December 8, 2014

Co-author, "Cultivating More Women and Minority Lawyers in The Garden State," New Jersey Law Journal, September 27, 2013

"Eyes to the Future: Working with Constitution High School To Boost Civics Education as well as Diversity in the Legal Profession," The Philadelphia Lawyer, Winter 2013

"Friends in High Places: The Rainmaker Mentor Program," The Legal Intelligencer, August 13, 2012

"Generation Y and the Law," Profiles in Diversity Journal, November 2011

"When Generations Collide: Recruitment, Retention and Advancement of Generation Y in Today's Firms," New Jersey Law Journal, May 30, 2011

"Changes in Legal Profession Create New Mentorship Needs," The Legal Intelligencer, February 2010

"Law Firm Affinity Groups: A Valuable Resource," Colorado Diversity Newsletter, May 2009

Speaking Engagements

"Five Keys to a Successful Diversity & Inclusion Program", Ninth Annual Utah Fall Employment Law Seminar Hosted by Ballard Spahr and Mercer, Salt Lake City, UT, November 2019

"My Life as a Lawyer and My Life as a Lawyer Serving in a Non-Lawyer Role,” National Bar Association, Corporate Law Section, 2019 National Bar Association's Gateway to Success Conference, Jacksonville, FL, March 29, 2019

"Diversity and Inclusion in Practice," CFO Leadership Council, Philadelphia, March 21, 2019

"Enhancing Executive Presence," SharpHeels Career Summit, Philadelphia, February 21, 2019

"The Journey Toward Getting the Diversity and Inclusion Balance Right," Senior HR Forum Meeting Series, Salt Lake City, November 9, 2018

"Leadership Skills That Matter: Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders," 2018 Page Scholars Seminar, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, August 11, 2018

"Being Your Authentic Self in the Legal Marketplace," Utah Bar Leadership Academy, Salt Lake City, November 17, 2017

"Observations, Obstacles & Opportunities: Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession," University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, Salt Lake City, November 16, 2017

"Ethics: Unintentional Discrimination & Implicit Bias: To Know It Is To Abate It," National Bond Lawyers Association, Bond Attorneys Workshop, Chicago, October 5, 2017 

"Destination Inclusion," 11th Annual Legal Inclusiveness & Diversity Summit, Center for Legal Inclusiveness, Denver, Colorado, May 1, 2017 

"Diversity Demographics in U.S. Law Firms," State Bar of Arizona, Spring Training for Lawyers, March 31, 2017

"Implicit Bias in the Courtroom and ABA Resolution on Diversity in Law Firms and Corporations", The Bar Association of Baltimore, March 29, 2017  

"Being Your Authentic Self in the Legal Marketplace," BYU Law School Office of Career Services and Professional Development, March 14, 2017

Moderator, "Tackling Uncomfortable Conversations in the Workplace," Mortgage Bankers Association's Summit on Diversity and Inclusion 2016, Washington, D.C., November 17, 2016

Panelist, "Cross-Generational Competence: How to Get Generations to Work Effectively with One Another," 2016 Pennsylvania Diversity and Leadership Conference, Philadelphia, September 1, 2016

"Unlock Your Mind: Advancing The New IQ (Inclusion Quotient)", Internal Revenue Service Chief Counsel Lecture Series, Washington, D.C., July 7, 2016

"Diversity and Inclusion: A Call to Action–Making the Business Case," Philadelphia Chapter ALA - Diversity & Inclusion Education Session, June 7, 2016 

"Handling Unconscious Bias and the Lack of Cultural Diversity in the Legal Profession," Multicultural Judges and Lawyers Section, Delaware State Bar Association, February 2, 2016

"Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders," Women of Color in Law Luncheon, La Jolla, California, April 19, 2015

"Maximizing Employee Resource Groups and Diversity Councils as a Strategic Resource," American Health Lawyers Association, Women's Leadership Institute, April 15, 2015

"10 Habits of Inclusive Leaders," Mountain West Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, 10th Annual Winter Retreat, Park City, Utah, March 20, 2015

"Increasing Diversity in Law Firms," University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Guest Lecturer, Gender in the Legal Profession Studies, Baltimore, February 5, 2015

"Insider Tips on How to Survive and Thrive in a Law Firm," University of Colorado Law School– Diversity & Inclusive Excellence, University of Colorado Law School, January 28, 2015

Panelist, "D&I as a Revenue Growth Strategy and Diversity Hot Topics," 2014 Philadelphia Diversity and Leadership Conference, Philadelphia, September 4, 2014

"Affinity Groups," BNY Mellon – Mid-Atlantic Diversity Council, BNY Mellon Employee Resource Group Summit, Philadelphia, June 18, 2014

"Buy-In, Tie-In and All-In: A Conversation about Diversity & Inclusion," Mountain West Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, 8th Annual CLO Roundtable, Salt Lake City, June 3, 2014

"Mentoring and Diversity Pipeline," DuPont Minority Counsel Network WebEx, May 29, 2014

Panelist, "Women of Color Professional Development," University of Pennsylvania Law School, Black Law Students Association, Philadelphia, November 13, 2013

"Transition to Law Firm Practice," Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law, Philadelphia, October 15, 2013

Panelist, "Diversity: Is the Message Getting Through?" 14th Annual DuPont Minority Counsel Conference: Building and Sustaining Success through the Power of the Network, Chicago, June 6, 2013

"Beyond the Practice of Law: Alternative and Non-Traditional Career Choices Law Grads Can Pursue" and "Law Firms May Be Committed to Diversity and Inclusion, But Why Is That Advantageous to Pre-Law Students?" 8th Annual National Black Pre-Law Conference and Law Fair 2012, Houston, November 2-3, 2012

"How To Find and Effectively Utilize Women- and Minority-Owned Law Firms," Federal Home Loan Bank Counsel Committee Spring Meeting, Washington, D.C., May 2012

National Symposium on Diversity in the Legal Profession, Philadelphia Bar Association CLE, November 2011

"Minding the Gap: Individualized Positioning for Diversity and Inclusiveness," Denver Diversity and Inclusiveness Summit, March 2011

"Diversity Hiring in a Down Market," Special Counsel, Philadelphia, December 2010

"When Generations Collide: Understanding Motivations, Expectations and Behavior of the Latest Crop of Lawyers," CLE Program, Philadelphia, December 2010

"Diversity Management in Multiple Offices," Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals Conference, New York, November 2010

Board Memberships

Kimmel Center Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Committee

Women Owned Law, Advisory Board Member and Co-Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Task Force

Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, Board of Directors

Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, 2008-2014

University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) John Marshall Law School (J.D. 1999)

Wilberforce University (B.A., cum laude, 1994)

Supreme Court of Wisconsin

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin