The editorial staff of  The Legal Intelligencer understands that diversity is a continuing concern in the legal community. This discussion is a follow-up to one we held in 2011 that suggested concrete solutions for the issues the legal profession faces in recruiting, hiring and retaining minority attorneys.

We invited 10 practitioners to come together and offer their suggestions on steps firms can take to increase diversity, the role of mentors and the next wave of diverse attorneys.

The editors selected the panelists from a number of volunteers and edited the transcript. Bios of the roundtable panelists can be found on p. 20. Excerpts from the discussion follow:

Tobey Daluz (moderator): Let’s start with the numbers. Statistics reveal that Philadelphia is on par with national averages for women in the profession, but lags behind national averages in minority partners and minority associates. Over the past five years we’ve seen some modest gains in the average of minority partners and associates on a national basis. However, in Philadelphia we’ve seen a couple of disturbing trends. Over the past two years, there’s been a decrease in the number of minority partners in the Philadelphia area, and there was, although an initial increase in the number of minority associates, a significant decrease over the past two years. In view of what the statistics are telling us, what advances do you think we’ve made in the legal profession in the Philadelphia region, specifically over the past couple of years, if any, and … what should we be doing in order to reverse what I find to be a disturbing trend?

Daniel J. Clifford: It seems like most of the firms now are more aware of diversity issues and, from my own experience, we started a diversity committee at Weber Gallagher in the last year or so, so that everyone is more in tune with it and I think that’s a good sign. And it’s one of those things, I think, that goes step by step. It takes a while to have building blocks and most of the larger firms, it appears, do have either diversity officers or diversity committees so that not only lawyers who are from diverse backgrounds but lawyers who are interested in promoting diversity are members of these committees, and that’s a good sign.

Daluz: Do we think the economy’s had any effect on retention with respect to minority associates, specifically? Does anybody have any sense of that?

Chip Flowers: I think the economy does have a lot to do with it. And I think we have to remember that a lot of minority attorneys have a lot of opportunities as well, particularly when the economy is booming. Obviously, the last few years it hasn’t been booming, but, again, when things are going good, they are getting pulled by in-house counsel, they’re getting pulled in different directions to make sure that they’re meeting their own diversity requirements as well. So, I think the challenge for any law firm … is how do you keep them and … where do they see the end game. Do you see the end game as partner or do you see the end game as of counsel? And so I think for an individual attorney, it’s about the fact if you don’t have a lot of minority partners, then they don’t see themselves as possibly being able to make it to the end of that cycle. So I think that’s really the challenge. People always are permanently staffed to what I call "project exit," and I think that if they feel the opportunity to exit before they’re forced out, they take that opportunity.

Louis Schack: The economy is playing a role because the law firms, bigger firms in particular, are hiring less summer associates, less first-years. So by virtue of that, there’s just going to be less positions out there. It’s going to have an effect now. What is the solution? It’s hard. We place a big emphasis on diversity recruitment and retainment through programs internally and externally with different bar associations and so forth. By way of solution, the firms really have to commit to it and then, keep in mind, if there’s ways in which they can help, not only get diverse candidates in, but retain them, develop them and promote them.

Daluz: Chip alluded to something that I think is interesting, and that is the possibility that the more minority partners you have, the better, the easier the recruiting may be. Did anybody look at that as a factor in considering where you wanted to work?

Elisa Bramble: It’s more important to have mentors actually that are not minorities, more so than minority partners to look to, at least for myself. I feel like the shareholders that have taken me under their wing, who are not minorities, have been the biggest help for me … in terms of providing perspective, in terms of sharing firm culture and showing me the ways to be successful in a firm. And so, to me, it’s more important that there are mentorship programs that draw from the larger pool of partners rather than just minority partners.

Daluz: There’s a lot of debate about the difference between mentors and sponsors. Mentors are those that guide and give advice, and sponsors being champions who make sure you have a full plate of work and then will tout your successes to the rest of the legal profession. Do you have both mentors and sponsors, and is there a difference as to who is a minority?

Bramble: The person that I’m thinking of plays both roles. I’m not sure that it necessarily has to be divided. I would think that your mentor is also your cheerleader at the firm, but I don’t know how it works in other places. It may be different at a larger firm.

Teresa Rodriguez: Your sponsor doesn’t necessarily have to be within your own organization. You could have sponsors on a professional level. I’m thinking about the Philadelphia Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association and other opportunities — other opportunities to actually identify people that don’t necessarily work within your organization, but people that are willing to vouch for you or speak about your integrity, your professionalism, the quality of work, if not the involvement, that you have in different organizations where you are a reliable leader. And I think that also plays a part in how you’re going to relate, and how you are going to market yourself within your own firm.

Clifford: Most of our associations have created diversity committees. The Pennsylvania Bar Association created a diversity task force about two or three years ago and is very in tune with diversity issues. In the Montgomery County Bar we have a diversity committee, and as more and more counties get more and more active on the diversity issue, that’s going to help. Students and lawyers will start thinking about practicing in counties beyond Philadelphia. They’ll feel more comfortable as the counties, the bar associations and the firms become more active with diversity issues.

Flowers: Giving people of minority backgrounds an opportunity to shine is important. Too often people try to tie you up with, "You’re a minority attorney, a minority associate. Let’s hook you up with a minority partner." And that’s not the name of success in my opinion. Are you giving that minority attorney the ability to build their own practice? Are you staffing them on the right deals, so to speak? Are you giving them the opportunity to shine in front of a client to make them a valuable member of the team? It’s always good to have somebody to help you maneuver the firm, but … have you made that commitment throughout your firm … to make sure that it is part of your fabric?

 

Daluz: Last year, the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group piloted a program called Rainmaking Mentors in which they partnered a diverse associate with a high-profile rainmaking partner in the firm. At Ballard, we thought it was such a terrific idea, we’ve now implemented it into a firmwide program and we call it our Pathways Program, and we put every fourth-year, whether they’re a diverse attorney or majority attorney, and we partner them with a partner so that they can learn how to develop business and also forge another relationship in the firm, or in their department, that they didn’t have before. Does anybody else have mentoring programs within their firms that they’d like to suggest as solutions or that have been particularly helpful to them?

Schack: We have a similar program … the Career Advisory Program at Reed Smith. Associates are teamed up with some partner or some senior associate within the firm. It’s not so much that there’s a diverse candidate, they should have a diverse partner. It’s really feeling out where that person belongs in the firm, what practice route they’re in, where they see themselves and try to match up personalities and get a good fit. Sometimes it might not work, and you’ve got to switch them up, personalities clash, but that’s what we focus on from a mentor perspective.

Daluz: And that’s available to all associates?

Schack: It’s available to all associates, correct.

Bramble: I have a rainmaking mentor through that program, and I think it’s a brilliant idea, actually. My rainmaking mentor opened up the world of marketing to me and let me in on his secrets and that has been really valuable for me. Pegging minority associates with minority partners just isn’t going to work. I think it’s a good idea for firms to get outside of the thought of pairing minorities together, partners and associates.

Daluz: Let’s talk a little about the pipeline. If the statistics are correct, then the number of students enrolling in law firms right now is going down significantly. I assume that that correlates on a percentage basis to the number of diverse or minority attorneys coming out of law school. Have we seen that? And what can we do to increase the opportunity for minority law students to either increase the number of applicants coming out of law school or to increase the number of people going into law school?

Bramble: This is an area where I think the economy really affects the number of minority candidates who are going into law school. I have a younger brother who I think would be a great lawyer, but I’m telling him, "Don’t go." There are so many minority and non-minority 3Ls looking for jobs. There needs to be an overall shift, not just for minorities, but in general — how much it costs, your options once you finish. Until that’s addressed, I’m not sure how we can really systematically deal with the question of minority students coming out of law school.

Priscilla Jimenez: If we’re inviting these new minority students to apply to law school and encouraging them to apply, and there are not a ton of jobs waiting for them when they graduate and they have all this debt, are we really setting them up for success? It’s tough to encourage someone to take out these loans and encourage them to go to law school without the certainty they’ll be able to pay it off within a certain amount of time.

Bramble: The debt also really limits the choices they have once they come out of law school. I know I felt like it was only a large firm that I was going to go to, to deal with the loans that I incurred. It’s important that minorities go to a place where they think they’ll fit, where they’re motivated by the overall environment and company goals.

Flowers: Too many people come out doing things they don’t like to do, minority or non-minority, right? And then they get to the firm and they work a million hours a month or a year and it’s not their passion. You end up judging them on work product that’s not their passion and then ultimately they’re at the exit door and you’ve spit them through the system.

Schack: Students need to know going into law school about the market — what’s out there, how hard it is, the debt they’re going to incur — so they really understand what’s involved and are committed to law school and willing to live with this outcome that could happen at the end of law school where they’re really stuck trying to find a job or getting a job they really don’t want.

Flowers: We hear the arguments telling the young minority students or any student that you should pick a school that’s going to give you a good deal, but yet we, ourselves, didn’t do that. We were like, listen, this is the list. The top school I get on this list in my area, that’s where I’m going and I don’t care what the debt load is, right? It seems to be very counterintuitive saying, "Don’t pick the best school you got into," which is exactly what law firms do, in my opinion. We look at their resumes. We tend to define students based on their academic credentials and where they went to school. Are we selling unrealistic advice?

Daluz: Well, Big Law certainly still hires that way. Do we have any suggestions on how we change that, Al?

Albert Dandridge: Somebody asked me that question a couple of days ago, whether or not I would recommend that my children go to law school in this day and age. I think the answer to that is you go to law school if you want to be a lawyer. Law school is not a way station, and law school is not a parking lot where you can try to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life afterward. Those people that tend not to be successful … are people who really don’t know what they want to do. If you’re a little bit queasy about it, in this day and age, more than likely you’re not going to be successful.

Clifford: I sat on the interview committee for the law students this year for the first time, and I was very impressed by the number of students from diverse backgrounds. One-third to 40 percent of the students we interviewed were from diverse backgrounds. I was very impressed and encouraged by that. I think it’s a good sign, and I think Al’s exactly right. If you want to be a lawyer, you’ll find a way to do it.

Neil Maskeri: I agree with Al and Dan here. There’s a certain amount of risk you take with any profession that you choose. You’ve gone through college, presumably you’re a grown-up, or you’re going to be soon. You’ve got to figure this out. If you want it bad enough, you’re going to do it.

Rodriguez: Ultimately, we’re looking for dynamic attorneys, right? People that are willing to put together a high-quality product, think quickly on their feet, be collegial, be civil, but at the same time represent your organization in the way it should be. I challenge firms to also look at socioeconomic backgrounds, life diversity, diversity of experience, multilingual experiences. It’s important to look at other factors that are going to ensure that you have diverse, dynamic and amazing attorneys as part of your ranks.

Daluz: There’s lot of talk in the legal industry about expanding how we interview, instead of one-on-one interviews, which tend to fall back on preferences and prejudices. What formal things can we do within the legal profession in order to ensure that there really is equal access, and what criteria should we be looking at? Does anybody have any approach on their thought to recruiting when you’re the one sitting in the interview chair?

Clifford: I skip over the educational background and I go right to the bottom of the resume. I’m looking at what they have done as people. What activities have they been involved in in their community, in their schools and so forth?

Dandridge: Law is a contact sport. When I interview somebody, it’s a two-part process. For good, bad or indifferent, I’ve got to look at the top of the resume to get them in the door. … I get beat up trying to get them in the door if I haven’t met a certain threshold. Then, after that, I go to the bottom of the resume. I want to look somebody in the eye and talk to them because I want to know what their "want to" and "can do" is. And if you show me the "want to" and the "can do," I will not pay that much attention to the top of the resume.

Daluz: Do we have more success in retaining those with the "want to" and the "can do"?

Dandridge: I think the "want to" and "can do" are the people that make it. The top of the resume gets you in the door; the top of the resume doesn’t get you to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. What gets you to the gold ring on the merry-go-round is the "want to," the "can do," how you interact with people, how you go out and present yourself … the fire in the belly — all that kind of stuff is what gets you there.

Daluz: Last week we had a program at Ballard where we invite diverse 1Ls from across the city and law schools and do a mock interview, resume, writing, an interview program and we tell them what to do and what not to do. The resumes are usually pretty rough even after coming through the law school career placement offices, and we help them by marking them up. We have mock interviews, comment on everything from the appearance to the writing samples. We can only touch a small percentage of Philadelphia-area diverse associates. There are so many more. If we could reach out and give them the guidance and advice they need in order to not make that initial mistake …

Dandridge: I’ve seen people with poor writing samples and I’ve told them that they were poor writing samples, and I’ve told them, "You may not come back to see me again, but fix this, go take this and go sit down with somebody and fix it." Because you may or may not have come to a roadblock here, but you need to fix it because everybody is going to notice if you have a writing sample, and if your writing sample is not up to par, people are going to hold that against you. So I will tell people in a heartbeat.

Rodriguez: I have to tell you that the number of law students, at least that we’ve been in contact with in the Philadelphia area, that are of Latino background or self-identify as Latino … we’re still talking about a very few compared to the percentage of the community that we comprise, particularly in the city of Philadelphia, and we’ve decided as the executive board [of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania] that part of what we have been doing is to help the students and have those candid discussions about appearance, but also about your resume and your writing sample. We need to have those candid discussions with students because, at least in my opinion, I’ve observed that they’ve gotten younger and younger. … I can’t tell you how many people we’ve talked to that say, "I’m going to be in the district attorney’s office." They have no idea what that necessarily means, and if we connect you with someone at the district attorney’s office and you learn what that means, you have a more realistic view about what it is that you need to do if that’s ultimately where you want to end up. So I think the affinity bars and other groups have a key role to play in helping our students make it through the interview process with Al Dandridge.

 

Dandridge: The Philadelphia Diversity Law Group, we have a boot camp, we have a testing exam preparation session and so on and so forth. All of these are tools to try to get people in the door. It’s part of the two-headed monster that we’re dealing with. One is recruitment, trying to get people in the door, and the second is retention. I think most of us do a fairly good job of trying to get people in the door. The real bugaboo is how do we keep people?

Jimenez: I can talk as a recent interviewee. I’m only two years out of law school, so I’ve been on a slew of interviews in the past two years. So one of the biggest things that people cared about when I came into the interview was the activities, interests and language section at the bottom of my resume. They wanted to hear about my history as a classical violinist, they wanted to talk about my Hispanic background and the fact that I can speak Spanish. I don’t know what it was like maybe a few years before that, but now I really feel like that is what is distinguishing people in getting them their jobs, especially in this economy. What makes you special, and why do you deserve this job, because it’s so hard to get one nowadays?

Flowers: As a minority in a law firm, I pride myself when people leave and go to better places. I think there are two types of retention that we’re going to think about. You don’t want people to get eaten up in the system because they didn’t perform well, but I realize that sometimes you just have stars and stars should be allowed to flourish and prosper.

You know you want your stars to flourish and grow, but I think the bad thing that we have to work on is those minority attorneys that come in, then get chewed up and spit out. They just get lost. They don’t get staffed on anything; they sit there; their billables, you see them go down, down, down and then nobody wants to work with them because a couple years down the road, they don’t have the experience.

Bramble: I’d be really curious to know the comparison between the lawyers that are leaving because they’ve been chewed up and spit out versus the stars. I know that there are a lot of stars, but I’m not convinced that our attrition rate is attributable to the stars. I think most of them it’s a matter of chewed up and spit out; they were forced out, they left and went somewhere that’s not comparable.

Daluz: Clients, by the way, are still judging us based on our statistics, not on where we’ve outplaced people. They want to know who we’ve retained. So we still have to worry about the number of people we’re bringing in and hopefully we can keep and will transition onto partner one day. … I’m perfectly happy to continue to train the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but it becomes a drag when some of your best and brightest minority attorneys keep leaving and going to offices like that. How do you keep some of the superstars then?

Dandridge: I don’t care who you are. I don’t care if you graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Law School. If you come to a major law firm, you are not sophisticated enough to make it on your own. Everybody, no matter who you are, needs a fairy godmother or a fairy godfather. Let’s be frank about it: You need somebody in that room.

Bramble: So maybe that needs to be incorporated in the training that’s done for the younger folks. Sort of showing them how important it is that you make those relationships not just with the minority shareholders, but all of them, and how having a sponsor is important and how you can find a sponsor. It was a more elusive thing for me to conquer as an associate. It took me, let’s say, five years to find someone who was willing to do that.

Dandridge: Well, we’ve institutionalized that at our firm. And Tobey is saying the same thing. A lot of firms have institutionalized that relationship.

Bramble: Is that something that can be institutionalized?
 

Dandridge: Some of us with a little more gray hair, that’s how it worked. When I came into a law firm, somebody took me by the hand … made sure that I was taken care of. And they did it for everybody else in the firm. We’re starting to lose that now. People making sure, I’m going to take you to this meeting, you’re going to come in and sit with this client with me, I’m going to take you to this bar association event, I’m going to walk down the hall, I will grab you and take you where you need to be. It was your responsibility as a senior person in the firm to say, this is the next generation, I’m going to do all that I can to make this person be successful. And we’re losing track of that.

Bramble: So what does that look like as a program? I’m just curious.

Dandridge: If I’m a partner and putting my piece of paper together at the end of the year telling the firm what I did, the firm is going to ask, "How were you in bringing along diverse lawyers in the firm? How were you in reaching out? How were you in giving them business opportunities? How many of your clients did you sit down with and have a person who looked a little bit different than you sit at the table with you?"

Daluz: With that being said, the firm has to be willing to have ramifications for those partners who don’t do that.

Dandridge: That’s correct. That’s a hard nut to crack. But that’s the deal at the end of the day.

Flowers: It’s still a business. You have to see the business value in doing that.

Dandridge: Listen, a partner’s greatest asset is her or his clients. And are you willing to expose someone who is diverse to your client? That’s the basic question at the end of the day.

Daluz: In an era where clients are paying for less and less, and don’t want to pay to train our more junior people or don’t want to pay to have extra people at the table, I think we have to find that opportunity to bring somebody along. Sometimes it’s an investment. Sometimes you still let that junior person bill to the file and you write it off. I think using the excuse that the client won’t pay for it is just that: it’s an empty excuse.

 

Dandridge: The payoff is when that general counsel or that associate general counsel gives that person a phone call sometime later on in the process.

Flowers: The clients play such an important role. Clients have really changed the legal profession. Clients have really demanded diversity, and I think that has been really a dramatic shift over the last 15 to 20 years. By now they expect to see a diverse team. … It’s a business; we do what our clients want us to do.

Dandridge: That’s part of what’s called the business case for diversity. But when that happens, when that phone call comes to the relationship partner saying, "We’re not going to give you a piece of business that you thought you were going to get because that last team that you brought here wasn’t representative of who we are and it should be more representative of who I think you ought to be as a firm," people start to get that message.

Flowers: Loud and clear.

Clifford: Clients have become less about numbers and more about participation, because not only are they looking for you to have the stats that match what they’re looking for, they are also requiring in many cases that attorneys from diverse backgrounds work on their matters, and the more that they sort of force that, I think it’s a circle. That will help retention, because your diverse attorneys are going to get the experience by working on those files and that helps.

Jimenez: I just think it’s a little bit unfortunate that you have to have clients demanding something in order to get results.

Dandridge: That’s the argument for the moral case versus the business case. I’m a strong believer in the moral case. I’m a strong believer in that’s the right thing to do. Sometimes, when the moral case doesn’t get you across the goal line, then you can beat them over the head with the business case.

Daluz: I’m going to shift for a second, just to make sure we touch on some LGBT issues. We are living in an era right now where same-sex marriage is really a roaring debate and our next generation of diverse attorneys include a number of LGBT individuals. I think most big firms in town are providing same-sex benefits and the like. Anybody have any thoughts to share with respect to LGBT issues in Philadelphia or nationally?

Clifford: My experience has been that there’s still a reluctance on a lot of associates’ parts to really put themselves out there on that issue. And it typically doesn’t occur until after they’ve made partner, and that’s just probably historical and hopefully it will change as people become more open-minded to it. But again, there’s not a lot of openly gay partners at a lot of the larger firms. Some of them have them, others don’t, but it’s still an ongoing issue from my perspective in promoting it.

Daluz: Do you think LGBT affinity groups can be helpful in that regard?

Clifford: It’s helping, and hopefully those people who are reluctant to come forward can be more comfortable to do that. But it has to spread down. It has to get down to the firms with 100 lawyers or 50 lawyers, and that’s where I think we’re seeing less of that happening.

Daluz: Are there same-sex benefits at those smaller firms for our LGBT lawyers?

Clifford: I’m not so sure at the smaller firms. Some of the larger firms, I think, do provide those benefits. Of course, there is still the requirement that the federal government will tax the gay partner for that health insurance and that’s still not a great fit.

Daluz: Whether or not law firms will make up that difference, right?

Clifford: That’s a controversial issue, in fact. A lot of the firms that I’ve talked to have that problem because they’re also feeling they’re separating and denying those benefits to heterosexual couples who are living in domestic partnerships, so they don’t want to set a special class aside for those of us who legally can’t marry. And my response usually is, well, the heterosexual couples can get married and resolve that issue very easily, but we can’t. But now there are other states where they might recognize you if you’re married in other states and that could be one of the doors opening for some of the firms to decide to do it that way.

Daluz: Anybody have an ending thought or something they want to share on any topic?

Jimenez: We touched on a lot of issues affecting minority attorneys, but, for me, the biggest one is just minority law students and where we are going to place them. Where are they going to work? How are we going to help them to succeed? In one sense, the economy plays a gigantic part in it, and we only have so much control over that, but we can help somehow and I think the issue will be figuring out how we can be most useful to them and how we can be resourceful to them and set them up and open doors for them that they may not be able to do themselves.

Rodriguez: How do you find success in professional development in your own right? It might not be the top 10 defense law firm, but what is it that you want to develop professionally, but also emotionally and as a person? What is it that you want to do that is going to allow you at the end of the day to be content and not be a person distraught by the practice of law? And I think that’s a very fine line that attorneys need to think about, especially young attorneys.

Sona Kim: I guess something I want to touch upon is something we addressed earlier about retention. Because as a younger attorney, that’s something that is dear to my heart. How do I find success, whether it’s at the firm that I am at now or relocating to somewhere else. The legal profession is tough for everyone. So, whether you’re a minority associate or not, it’s tough and I think just finding someone who can sort of guide you and help you and mentor you, whether as a formal mentor or someone who does it more in an informal sense, I think is really important. I know at bigger firms they have more formal programs and maybe more structure and things of that nature. But I think at smaller firms or maybe in government … you have to be more assertive in seeking out help and seeking out mentors. Even just saying, "I need help with this aspect or practice," and so I’m still trying to figure that out for myself. For people coming in, we can think about it and address it.

Bramble: I have two take-away points. One, holding the firm stakeholders accountable for reaching back. That’s sort of what I plan on taking back to my firm. And I guess the second is a more general thing. Speaking about it in this roundtable discussion is helpful, at least to me, as an incubator, to understand what other firms are doing about the problem.

Schack: One of the points I wanted to make earlier was the emphasis our firm puts on internal networking, particularly for younger attorneys. External networking is one thing — getting out there in the community, bar associations, different associations and so forth. But internal networking is so important, and we really encourage not just minority attorneys but every attorney to really get to know the people you work with outside your group, because that’s where you can get work, that’s where you get opportunities. And to your point earlier about firms — the clients really dictating to firms that they need to get more diverse, they need to staff their cases with diverse candidates — that’s how younger attorneys can really make inroads, is getting to know and develop relationships and be assertive with your other people within the firm.

Flowers: Diversity is a multifaceted issue. We can’t solve the problem here at this table, although we would like to. One of the biggest problems that I think I find with most attorneys, minority or not, is understanding the business of law. We can teach them how to do their cases, the legal work, but it’s almost like there’s a whole other floor out there that’s managing the firm. And so when they go to leave … they haven’t been brought in on that, unless they’re on a managing committee or something that gives them that experience. Understand that this is some of the skill that they’re going to need when they do leave and that way they can continue to be successful. Otherwise, that’s eventually going to catch up to them.

Bramble: That should be a law school class.

Maskeri: It’s really important for young attorneys to actually go out and network. I’m not saying just go out to a happy hour to meet some friends. Really go out there and get involved. Take up the leadership position. You’re going learn a lot of skills that are going to carry through the rest of your career. You might not get that right away working at a law firm or wherever you might end up, but getting involved outside is a really great way to develop that skill. Another important thing is for firms to partner with affinity groups and other bar associations out there. And really not just moneywise, but to actually show up and participate. Have some skin in the game, associate with these people and you’ll start to see the value in diversity. I think those are two things that we should really be focused on.

Daluz: Thank you, everyone. •

Tobey M. Daluz is a partner in Ballard Spahr’s Wilmington, Del., office. She handles corporate restructuring, workouts and general bankruptcy litigation. She represents debtors, secured and unsecured creditors, insurers, indenture trustees and official committees in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases.

Elisa N. Bramble is a member of the litigation, intellectual property and labor and employment practice groups at Flaster/Greenberg. Her practice includes complex commercial litigation matters, trademark and Internet disputes and labor and employment matters.

Daniel J. Clifford is a member of Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby’s family law practice group and managing partner of the firm’s Norristown, Pa., office. He is engaged in litigation before common pleas and appellate courts on matters involving divorce, equitable distribution of marital property, child custody, support, protection from abuse, domestic and international adoptions and civil contempt matters.

Albert S. Dandridge III is chair of the Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis’ securities practice group and is the firm’s chief diversity officer. His legal work is concentrated in municipal and corporate finance matters, and he regularly counsels major public companies, broker-dealers and investment advisers on their securities reporting and financing requirements.

Chip Flowers is president and managing member of Wilmington, Del.-based Flowers Counsel Group, one of the region’s leading minority-owned corporate law firms, representing Global 500 and Fortune 500 clients. He is also the Delaware state treasurer.

Priscilla E. Jimenez is an associate at Locks Law Firm, practicing in the areas of personal injury, pharmaceutical litigation and products liability, among others. She is a graduate of Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law.

Sona Kim, an associate at Deeb Blum Murphy Frishberg & Markovich, practices in the areas of commercial litigation and employment law. Licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, she has extensive experience with mediation, civil motion practice and motion for summary judgment.

Neil C. Maskeri focuses his practice at Volpe and Koenig on the preparation and prosecution of domestic and foreign patents, including counseling clients to develop customized global IP strategies.

Teresa M. Rodriguez practices in the area of personal injury actions at Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith. She has represented hundreds of immigrant, migrant and seasonal farmworkers in labor and employment cases, including wage-and-hour, unpaid minimum wage, unpaid overtime, concerted protected activity, health and safety and discrimination.

Louis W. Schack is a partner at Reed Smith whose litigation practice focuses on a variety of complex litigation matters, including pharmaceutical products liability, financial services class action litigation, real estate litigation and mass torts.