Female Powerbrokers Q&A: Saul Ewing's Debbie Spranger

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Deborah Spranger is a vice chair of Saul Ewing LLP’s business and finance department, a co-chair of its life sciences practice group and a member of the firm’s seven-member executive committee. She focuses her practice on mergers and acquisitions, equity financings, licensing and general business transactions for life sciences and other manufacturing and technology companies.

Q: How did you break into what many consider to be an old boy’s network?

A: I don’t define myself in terms of my gender. My clients and colleagues are more likely to point out that I am the only woman in the room than I am to notice it myself. In the context of my work, it is simply not relevant. That being said, I do think I have been given more opportunities because I am a woman in a male-dominated practice area. And, Saul Ewing has actively sought to put more women in positions of influence.

Q: What are the challenges of being a woman at a senior level within a law firm?

A: I think people tend to perceive women as being younger than they really are. Youth is equated with inexperience and naivete. So, I often find myself in the ironic position of trying to convince my colleagues that I’m really not that young anymore! It can also be a challenge to take a strong position without being perceived as being bitchy or difficult...

Originally published in Law360 on April 8, 2014.

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