According to a recent study released by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), more women were serving as general counsel in Fortune 500 companies in 2010 than ever before.

The MCCA’s Survey of Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 Women and Minority General Counsel showed that 101 of the Fortune 500 GCs last year were women. That is a 7 percent increase over the number of women GCs in the Fortune 500 the previous year.

The survey also said:

  • Nearly 15% of the women GCs at Fortune 500 companies were minorities—the largest percentage since the survey launched 12 years ago
  • 40% of the women GCs at Fortune 500 companies came from four states: California, New York, Texas and Illinois
  • Women GCs at Fortune 500 companies were represented in many industries, with the highest concentration in retail (15.8%), energy (13.4%) and electronics/office equipment (11%)
  • The Fortune 1000 companies—represented in the 501 to 1000 companies—also saw an increase in women GCs, from 80 in 2009 to 82 in 2010

“Since MCCA started tracking this information in 1999, the number of women serving as general counsel at Fortune 500 companies has grown 129 percent, a remarkable achievement,” MCCA President and CEO Joseph K. West said in a statement. “This represents an important change in legal industry culture, but these women have also demonstrated outstanding legal and leadership skills to earn such prestigious posts.”

The news is especially timely, as Anastasia Kelly, a DLA Piper partner and former Fortune 500 GC, recently announced the launch of Project 5-165, a call to action which aims to get 165 women appointed to GC positions in the Fortune 500 within the next five years (see “Purposeful Project”). Read more of InsideCounsel’s coverage of women in the corporate legal profession.

The full survey report is published in the September/October issue of Diversity at the Bar