Record Number of Minority General Counsels at Fortune 500 Companies

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on September 25, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Law has a reputation as an old boys' club, and by that, people generally mean white men. But minorities are increasing their presence in corporate counsel jobs, according to the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

The MCCA's annual survey came out recently, and it looked specifically at how many minorities are in general counsel positions at Fortune 500 firms. The numbers are up after a year of no growth, reflecting a general pattern of growth in the number of minority general counsel since 2008, reports MCCA.

That's not to say that the figures have reached anything close to parity yet. The numbers are encouraging but they're still low.

There are now 47 minority general counsels at Fortune 500 companies. That includes GCs who are African American, Asian American, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Armenian, according to the survey.

That figure reflects a 9.3% increase in the number of minority general counsel since 2010, and brings the total proportion of minority general counsel to just under 10%.

What those numbers don't show, however, is the rising equality of minority women.

In 2008 there were eight women at the helm of Fortune 500 companies' legal departments. The MCCA survey revealed that number was up to 23 in 2011.

While small, the numbers have made Joseph K. West, MCCA's president and CEO, more hopeful for the future. The economic downturn hit minorities hard, but West expects that we'll now see even more diversity in the legal departments of prestigious companies, Inside Counsel reports.

The survey doesn't reflect the total number of minorities who hold corporate counsel positions at non-Fortune 500 firms, but there's a good chance those numbers are up too. Slowly but surely, the old boys' club seems to be on its way out.

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