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The progress of women in the law, as measured by the ratio of female law-firm partners, is alarming. Only about 20 percent of partners are female, and far fewer are female racial or ethnic minorities. But there are certainly bright spots—women who shook off our industry’s sluggish advance to show a path forward.

Take Sharon Barner, vice president and general counsel at Indiana-based global engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. Barner is a former U.S. deputy undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. She had a long and successful career in private practice including leading a team of more than 200 lawyers as head of an Am Law 100 intellectual property department.

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