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Another male bastion has bitten the dust. This summer, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett elected partners Sarah Cogan and Laura Palma to its executive committee — the first women to join the elite group in the firm’s 125-year history.

It’s been a surprisingly long haul for women to break into the 12-member club, even though Simpson Thacher anointed its first female partner nearly 40 years ago, when Eleanor Fox, an antitrust lawyer, became partner in 1970. “It was a gaping hole not to have women on the top management committee,” says Cogan, 53, who heads the firm’s investment management practice group. “Historically, [the committee] has been for senior partners,” says Palma, 51, a corporate partner. She adds that, “in the last 10 years, partners [on the executive committee] have tried to bring in younger people.”

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