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June 13, 2011 Practice Points

Growing Trend of Women of Color Leaving Firms to Work as Corporate Counsel

By Patricia C. O'Prey

A recent study by Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC) discovered a growing trend of women of color leaving law firms to work as corporate counsel. The study, titled “The Perspectives of Women of Color Attorneys in Corporate Legal Departments,” surveyed more than 800 African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American female corporate attorneys. About 76 percent of the women who participated in the study started their careers in law firms before joining in-house corporate legal departments. The women cited the following reasons for leaving law firms: feeling that their work was not valued, a lack of good mentors, a desire for more challenging work, and few opportunities for growth. The study found that women responding to the survey had doubts whether their prospects and opportunities at law firms would improve, in part because so few women of color were partners who could serve as mentors. A link to an article by CCWC’s founder and CEO, Laurie N. Robinson, discussing the survey results can be found here.

Patricia C. O'Prey works at Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP in New York, New York.

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