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Women in the Legal Profession

By October 11, 2012

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Good news for U.S. women in the legal profession:  the number and clout of women general counsels at Fortune 500 companies is growing.

The number of women serving as general counsel at Fortune 500 companies more than doubled from 1999 to 2008, according to a survey by Minority Corporate Counsel Association. And, while the number of women professionals in BigLaw has floated around 15 percent for decades, women now hold the top legal spot at 21 percent of Fortune 500 companies.

Although women in the U.S. are making headway, the news is not as promising for women in other parts of the world.  For example, in India, females face prejudice and many hurdles in their struggle to reach the upper ranks of the legal profession, the Global Legal Post reports.

In France, females are joining the French legal profession in stronger numbers than men, but far fewer hold managing and partnership positions, according to a recent study from the Paris Bar Association.  One of the reasons for the gender gap in leadership positions is corporate culture and an "old boy's network" which still persists.

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