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In yet another report on women in the law, the American Bar Association has underscored the findings of other recent studies that show that women in in-house legal departments continue to face such traditional limits as negative stereotyping. The report also points out that only about 10 percent of in-house legal counsel at Fortune 500 companies are women, and only one of those was a woman of color. “Although in-house counsel do not face the same business development obstacles as lawyers in private practice, neither are these counsel free from … the disadvantages that gender… impose[s],” says the report, “The Unfinished Agenda: Woman and the Legal Profession,” released this spring by the ABA. A comprehensive study drawing from a wide range of sources, the report points out that women in legal positions within companies face special challenges, drawing on the conclusions of a study by the nonprofit research organization Catalyst, released earlier this year. Female company lawyers have cited stereotypical assumptions about their qualifications, exclusion from informal social activities and mentoring networks, and isolation from other in-house lawyers as major obstacles to their advancement according to the survey’s creator, the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. In a more positive vein, the survey notes that women see many advantages to working in-house. Most women, for example, felt that in-house legal positions allowed them to maintain a better work/life balance. Also, they like the opportunities for “proactive problem solving.” The entire report can be viewed at http://www.abanet.org/women.

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