Ballard Spahr and Piper Jaffray Companies are affirming their shared commitment to advancing diversity in the legal profession through the creation of a joint 1L Diversity Fellowship Program in Minneapolis.

The Ballard Spahr/Piper Jaffray Diversity Fellowship Program provides law students from diverse backgrounds with the opportunity to gain experience working in both a law firm and corporate in-house setting. Ballard Spahr has developed similar programs in its Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Baltimore offices.

"We've seen firsthand how this collaborative model can help us deepen our relationships with clients and foster a more diverse, inclusive, and vibrant workforce," said Virginia G. Essandoh, Chief Diversity Officer at Ballard Spahr. "We're excited to roll out this program in Minneapolis."

The Ballard Spahr/Piper Jaffray Fellow will be employed by Ballard Spahr as a 2019 summer associate. The paid fellowship program—which also includes a one-time, $5,000 scholarship from Ballard Spahr—provides a unique opportunity for a first-year law student, known as a 1L, to participate in client meetings and work with lawyers in the firm's Minneapolis office on a variety of matters. During the fellowship tenure, Piper Jaffray also will host the student for a three-week internship in its legal department.

"Diversity and inclusion are core values of Ballard Spahr because a diverse workforce strengthens our firm, our client service, and our community," said Karla Vehrs, Managing Partner of Ballard Spahr's Minneapolis office. "We are proud to be partnering with Piper Jaffray to foster diverse legal talent in Minneapolis."

The Ballard Spahr/Piper Jaffray Fellowship is one of many Ballard Spahr initiatives designed to foster diversity and inclusion in the Minneapolis office, the firm, and in the legal profession. The firm supports local affinity groups and organizations, including the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, Minnesota Lavender Bar Association, Minnesota National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Twin Cities Symposium on the State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession, and the Page Education Foundation.