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Are Women Better Suited to Be General Counsels Than Men?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on October 05, 2011 6:49 AM

Could it be that women lawyers are a better fit at corporations?

Courageous Counsel tells the stories of 42 female general counsel in the Fortune 500. The book looks at how female attorneys make up about 20% of GCs at these companies, while they only hold about 6% of equity partnerships in the AmLaw 200.

Why the gap? Could it be the skills?

Corporations place a higher value on women's people skills, says Susan Hackett, former general counsel of the Association of General Counsel. Women, she explains, have a higher ability to accommodate, collaborate, lead, and seek different solutions.

As the only "partner," female general counsel have more opportunity to use these skills and thrive.

There are, of course, other explanations. Corporations tend to be stronger supporters of diversity, according to the ABA Journal. And then there are the hours.

Despite previous beliefs, women lawyers do not leave the profession to raise families. New studies show that most try to do both, but are at a greater disadvantage than men. Female lawyers often come from dual-income households, explains the Journal. They simply don't have enough support to work the same hours as a man.

It's difficult to compete when hours are the primary method of measuring dedication to a firm.

No one knows exactly why the number of female general counsel is increasing. It could be a corporate mentality or a host of other reasons.

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