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Chart: California’s Top Women GCs Here’s the good news: There are more female general counsel at Fortune 500 companies in 2004 than there were last year. The not-so-good news is that the increase is minuscule: 71 over last year’s 70, a mere 14 percent among America’s largest businesses. Why the negligible change? After all, at many elite law schools, women now make up close to half of each graduating class. And they have made bigger strides in other top legal jobs. According to a recent American Bar Association study, women make up more than 30 percent of all law school faculty, and close to 20 percent of all federal judges. The stalled progress of female GCs may just be a by-product of modern life in corporate America. More Fortune 500 companies have been plagued by scandal, and their in-house lawyers — both male and female — are getting caught in the crossfire. Last year Christi Sulzbach resigned from her position at Tenet Healthcare Corp. in the wake of allegations of massive Medicare fraud there. Federal regulators ousted Maud Mater from her post as the top lawyer at Freddie Mac after regulators discovered that the mortgage financing giant had misstated earnings for several years running. (Tenet and Freddie Mac declined to comment on the departures of the GCs.) California is home to seven women GCs at Fortune 500 companies, down from eight last year, including Charles Schwab Corp. (Carrie Dwyer), Countrywide Financial Corp. (Susan Bow), Apple Computer Inc. (Nancy Heinen) and Calpine Corp. (Lisa Bodensteiner). Ann Baskins, of Hewlett-Packard, ranks No. 1 on the California list, where she oversees 300 in-house lawyers. Lauri Shanahan of Gap Inc. and Madeleine Kleiner of Hilton Hotels Corp. round out the seven California-based GCs. Other women fell from the national list because their companies slid off the Fortune 500 roster. That’s what happened with Ace Hardware Corp.’s Donna Flenard and Providian Financial Corp.’s Ellen Richey. But financial woes don’t tell the whole story. Some women simply changed jobs and dropped off the chart. Debra Minott, the top lawyer at medical equipment manufacturer Guidant Corp., left her post to become the company’s first-ever chief governance officer. And Francesca Maher swapped her position as GC of UAL Corp. for a senior partnership at Chicago’s Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw. Looking ahead, we’ll probably welcome back Anastasia “Stasia” Kelly to the list, if MCI Inc. follows through with its plan to relist its shares on Nasdaq this summer and the company makes it back onto the Fortune 500. Click here to see the complete chart of national data for Corporate Counsel magazine’s list of the top women GCs. Ashby Jones is a reporter with Corporate Counsel, a Recorder affiliate based in New York City.

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