Law or even just corporate law, in general, has always been considered as a male-dominated profession, due to multiple stereotypes that have been predisposed in people's minds thinking about the aggressive, cutthroat, masculine nature of the job. However, as time has passed and many women have stepped up and paved the way for others, it is more clear now that a legal profession or legal career is not that out of reach for women around the world. Now, to hear a young girl or a young woman talk about wanting to pursue a legal career in the future is not shocking anymore, it is empowering. This article shines a light on a couple of the plethora of women in corporate law, who have broken the glass ceiling and pioneered the way for many women in the corporate legal world today.
First is Candace K. Beineke, a senior partner at Hughes Hubbard & Reed in New York City. Beineke was recognized in 1999 when she became one of the first female board members of a major New York City law firm. As a corporate attorney, she has paved the way for women into the boardroom and has made it possible for women to be recognized as a powerful legal authority figure. Candace Beineke was appointed the independent board chair for first eagle funds (a public group of four mutual funds with about $40 billion in assets) which made her one of the select women at that high of a level in the mutual fund industry. She also serves on the board of Alstrom, a French transport and power company and Rockefeller Financial Services, and Rockefeller & Co. In addition to all of these high power leader positions, she also holds a leadership position in non-profit organizations such as the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation and the Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Law.
Another influential female in the corporate legal world is Marcia L. Goldstein is a retired partner from Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Marcia was the co-chair of the firm's insolvency and restructuring practice, for over 20 years she “advised clients on debt restructuring, corporate crisis management and corporate governance” until retiring this year. Goldstein was the lead attorney on the $41 billion bankruptcy case with WorldCom Inc., “and helped the company confirm its reorganization plan within 17 months”. In addition to being an outstanding lead counsel in bankruptcy claims, she was also the “lead U.S. counsel to Parmalat, Europe’s largest dairy and fruit-juice company, which was $20 billion in debt and facing fraud allegations. She was special U.S. counsel to Eurotunnel and led the team that successfully obtained dismissal of the Chapter 11 cases of Galvex Trade and other affiliates while preserving their parent company’s Chapter 11 case.” Not only does Marcia Goldstein work flawlessly in her corporate legal work helping companies turn themselves around after million-dollar bankruptcies, but she also serves on the steering committee of women’s affinity group (women@weil). “Goldstein has been a leader of UJA’s Bankruptcy and Reorganization Committee and has served on the Board of Her Justice. She currently serves on the Board of Boys and Girls Harbor, the Leadership Council for Tina’s Wish, and the Cornell Law School Advisory Council.”
The final woman that is another inspiring female in the corporate legal world is Anne Marie Whittemore, a partner at McGuireWoods LLP. “Whittemore is a commercial litigator at the trial and appellate levels”, this means that she is a permanent member of the 4th Circuit Judicial Council, which has large impacts on the world of education and business. Her legal work covers not only corporate matters but also securities, environmental and constitutional matters. She advises her clients on boards and how to run their company in a board member position while having also served on different boards of multiple companies herself. Last but not least, “Virginia’s chief justice handpicked Whittemore to chair the Commission on Virginia Courts in the 21st Century, created to revamp the state’s justice system”.
Although these women are just a few of the abundance of powerful impactful inspirational women legal pioneers, they are just examples of how much women have been able to accomplish in the legal field. This is especially shown in the corporate legal field, which is stereotypically meant to be a male-dominated field as it's very cut-throat and intimidating, where there is a high need for the assertion of dominance. However, it is clear to see that these women have done just fine and have maybe even surpassed a lot of their male counterparts, not only in their corporate work but in giving back to the community and impacting the entire female population as a whole. The main takeaway from all of these amazing women inside the legal field especially the corporate legal field is that it no longer has to be a male-dominated field where women are inferior or do not feel like they belong in a boardroom, as a chairman, or as a managing partner of a top leading law firm. This is because as time goes on, the law is now a profession that doesn't seem out of reach for women around the world, it is an ever-changing discipline, and because of these inspiring individuals who were able to see that women can do the job just as well as men can and that anyone can go down as someone who does and do amazing things not only for themselves in the company that they work for, but it is the standing out, doing for the community and the people around them, and paving the way for people who can't is what makes them the outstanding women they are.
CC: Angie Miller