Philly lawyers top LGBT list

The National LGBT Bar Association last week announced its “40 Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40” list and this year two Philadelphia lawyers made the list. Rebecca Levin of Jerner & Palmer LLP and Ruth Uselton of Ballard Spahr LLP were among the 40 honorees. “These young professionals represent the very best of our profession,” said association executive director D’Arcy Kemnitz in a statement about this year’s awardees. “They come from law firms, nonprofits, corporations and the government. Their extraordinary accomplishments underscore the significant talent the LGBT community brings to the legal profession, and highlight the real change our members make in the lives of their clients, their community and their country, every single day. We’re proud to honor them.” Rebecca Levin Levin has worked as an associate at Jerner & Palmer LLP since November 2010. Levin, 33, hails from Jenkintown and received her law degree from American University. She said she has always been interested in LGBT rights, which motivated her to pursue a career in law. “I went to law school looking to work on those issues and found a lot of the issues we see at the family-unit level,” she said. Levin works on cases involving child support and custody, divorce, termination of domestic partnerships, civil-union dissolution and domestic violence and protection from abuse. Levin is co-chair of the LGBT Rights Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association and sits on the board of trustees of the LGBT Rights Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association. She is also the founder of the National LGBT Bar Association’s Family Law Institute and served on the association’s board from 2006-10. Levin said it was gratifying to be recognized by the organization she served. “I’ve always been involved with them and they are a great organization that connects attorneys across the country,” she said. “I found a home within that and to be recognized by them is an honor.” Ruth Uselton Uselton was working as a grant writer for the Women’s Sports Foundation before she delved into the legal world. Uselton, 34, is originally from Texas but moved to the Philadelphia area at age 8. She graduated from New York Law School in 2008 and is currently an associate in the litigation department at Ballard Spahr LLP “I’ve always had a general interest in law and that led me to pursue a career,” she said. “It wasn’t just about working at a large firm or making a lot of money. I thought I would be good at it and it interested me. I loved it and enjoyed law school.” Uselton worked as a summer associate at Ballard Spahr LLP during her second year in law school before landing a position after graduation. “The culture here is great and very open and accepting of diversity, especially LGBT staff, associates and partners,” she said. Uselton said the designation from the association was both rewarding and surprising. “I was shocked. I still consider myself young in my career; I’ve only been practicing for six years and I know there are a lot of great attorneys and leaders in the LGBT community in Philly, so it is an honor.”