14 August 2012 at 14:19 BST

One in five leading companies has female top lawyer

Women lawyers working for corporations are making significantly more professional progress than their private practice counterparts, recent research illustrates.

If she's smiling, she must be working in house

According to The Careerist web site, while a National Association of Women Lawyers survey found that the number of women professionals at big law firms has floated around 15 per cent for decades, research from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association found that 21 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have a female General Counsel – and further growth is expected.

Ethnic diversity

Other findings from the report show that since 2009 some 23 women have bagged the top legal position at a Fortune 500 company. Around 16 per cent of the female GCs in the 2011 group also described themselves as being ethnic minorities – the most diverse figure in the survey’s history.
Legal profession diversity expert Arin Reeves told Corporate Counsel magazine that there is greater pressure on corporations to increase diversity as they must answer to their consumers and shareholders.
And in a direct swipe at the private practice side of the legal profession, Ms Reeves, who is the founder president of Chicago-based consultancy Nextions, asked: ‘So what are the areas of our profession that have no transparency, no accountability, and no oversight? Law firms.’


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