Female lawyers break through glass ceiling in Hong Kong

June 13, 2012 This article looks at a cohort of female lawyers that have risen to the top of their game in Hong Kong, changing the male (and white) dominated culture at major law firms.

Chun Wei heads the Hong Kong and Beijing offices of New York–based firm Sullivan & Cromwell, Teresa Ko is head of the China practice for Freshfields, Celia Lam leads a Hong Kong practice for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Benita Yu is one of Slaughter and May's top partners.
The largest law firm in town, Mayer Brown JSM, is led by a woman (Elaine Lo), as are the Hong Kong offices of Baker & McKenzie (Poh Lee Tan) and Weil, Gotshal & Manges (Akiko Mikumo), as well as Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison's China practice (Jeanette Chan).

The article asks why women are doing so well in Hong Kong, and suggests a number of reasons, including the fact that professional women are assisted by inexpensive domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia who do the cooking, cleaning, dog-walking, and child-minding for a large swath of Hong Kong's professional classes.

The Communist government's one-child policy may also have played a role, with ambitious parents who might have favored sons instead pushing daughters to succeed.

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