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A decade ago, Deborah Ludewig was a first-year associate in Silicon Valley when she chanced upon a budding organization of local women entrepreneurs. Both Ludewig and the networking organization for women have become more sophisticated since then. Ludewig is now a Pillsbury Winthrop partner, and the group, which is now called the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, has 1,000 members in five chapters in the United States, Canada and Europe. That helps make the kudos the forum has awarded Ludewig for being “Service Provider of the Year” even more significant. “I think this is an impressive group of women, and it’s an honor to be singled out,” Ludewig said. Susan Hailey, chief executive officer of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, said it’s about time for the group to begin recognizing individuals who have supported the group and its mission. Founded in 1993 by venture capitalist Jennifer Gill Roberts, the organization is a resource for women in business and provides education seminars. The forum typically honors a women entrepreneur or executive during its annual dinner, but this year marks the first time it has honored a service provider as well, Hailey said. The group’s annual banquet and awards dinner was earlier this week. “Supporters over the years have been venture capitalists and law firms and search firms, but above and beyond the actual financial support, it’s really the person at the firm who takes it upon themselves to champion a nonprofit,” Hailey said. Ludewig, she said, has been an ardent supporter of the forum even as she moved from Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison to Cooley Godward and then in March, to Pillsbury. Supporting the effort has been par for the course for Ludewig, who over the years has devoted her free time and many of her pro bono hours to women’s organizations. “I think it’s important to integrate pro bono into your practice and give it equal standing with your other clients,” Ludewig said. “Why be a lawyer if you can’t use some of your skills to give back? It’s not all about the money.” Ludewig added that she has a personal interest in the efforts of the organizations she has supported over the years. Her daughter graduated from high school recently, and Ludewig said she hopes that by the time she finishes college, women will be more common among the ranks of executives. “I really do believe it’s important for women entrepreneurs to reach out and help other women,” she said.

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