Corporate Counsel Charts Women's 25-Year Climb to Top In-House Lawyer Roles

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NEW YORK, March 18, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Twenty-five years after Mary Ann Hynes' promotion to CCH Incorporated general counsel, a first for women at Fortune 500 companies, ALM's Corporate Counsel assesses the history and current state of that glass ceiling in its April issue and online at

Among the key findings of ALM's Corporate Counsel research and interviews are:

  • Women currently lead the legal departments at 21 percent of Fortune 500 companies, compared with 17 percent in 2009.
  • Four of the 17 largest corporations have female general counsel or chief legal officers, including Karen Roberts at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest.
  • Five women lead law departments at aerospace and defense companies. These industries have historically been among those with the most rigid glass ceilings.
  • Among Fortune 501-1000 companies, only 17 percent of top legal officers are women.
  • Last year, there were three fewer women GCs and CLOs in the Fortune 500 than the year before. The significance of this first known decrease in 25 years is unclear.

While women legal executives interviewed by Corporate Counsel were pleased by the long-term trend, they pointed out that, despite sharp increases in female law graduates and practicing lawyers, there is still great disparity at the top of corporate law departments.

The industries with the highest numbers of top women lawyers are insurance with nine, and food consumer products and specialty retailers, which each have seven.

A chart listing Fortune 500 companies and their women GCs and CLOs is published with the report.

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Source: ALM