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Hannah Cao, Jean Lee and Clara Ohr

Almost every Asian-American female lawyer I know has been told at some point that she’s too polite, demure or petite to be effective at her job. “How can anyone see you in a courtroom?” asked one of my ex-boyfriends when I started practicing law. “You’re tiny.”

Despite putting up with such nonsense, female lawyers of Asian descent are on a tear—particularly in corporations. Of the 20 Asian-American lawyers now heading the legal departments of Fortune 500 companies, eight are women. And in China, where patriarchy rules and boys are still favored, over 50 percent of general counsel are women, reports legal consulting firm Acritas.

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Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen is a senior columnist at The American Lawyer and the creator of The Careerist blog.

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