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Asian-Americans Set Goal to Improve Their Ranks in the Legal Field
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diversity in legal

Summary: There are only 13 Asian-Americans serving as general counsel in Fortune 500 companies, a number that they hope to nearly double in the next four years.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association has set a goal to get 20 Asian-American lawyers into positions of rank at Fortune 500 companies by 2020. They call the goal “20×20” and are currently at 13 at the head of legal departments at major corporations.


Don Liu, general counsel at Xerox Corp. spoke at an event for Asian-American lawyers where he mentioned that Asian-Americans are often excluded from diversity pushes because they are often seen as already successful.

This effort by the NAPAB is the latest in the push to get more diversity in those that advance in the legal field. According to the Minority Corporate Counsel Association last year, 54 Fortune 500 companies reported that employed a minority general counsel.

The MCCA has been working for years with in-house to increase the progression of diverse attorneys in in-house departments. President and chief executive of MCAA, Joseph West, says the biggest obstacle to achieving this is the existence of implicit bias within organizations. Mr. West noted that in-house departments are more diverse than law firms but both could be better. In-house legal teams collaborate more so there is less hostility towards other lawyers than in law firms.

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Mr. Liu was the only Asian-American general counsel at a Fortune 500 company in 1999. Over the next seven years, that number climbed to ten but has barely moved since then.




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