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Bill Lee is the fi fth managing partner in the 100-year history of WilmerHale. He is the fi rst Asian American managing partner at his fi rm but sees a genera- tional shift that will bring more minori- ties and women into the profession.

How has your fi rm supported you in your managerial role?

BL: The most critical thing that the fi rm did was put together a management group. The assistant managing partner, the committee chairman, and the executive committee were extremely supportive. The second thing they did was allow me to adapt a management style that allowed me to practice more than half my time and that was very important.

Have you noticed more minorities entering the legal profession over the course of your career?


BL: There is a tremendously greater number. When I arrived in Boston in 1976, I was the only Chinese American lawyer in the city. Today, there are literally hundreds. There’s a change of national proportion and that’s been a very good thing.

What are some obstacles to diversity in the legal profession?

BL: The challenges are not dissimilar to those many professions face, which is, whether you like it or not, stereotypes still exist. For instance, stereotypes that remain of Asians are that they are very smart but not visionaries or leaders. The stereotypes are being broken down every day but it takes time.

What advice would you give an aspiring minority attorney?

BL: I would give a minority attorney the same advice I would give a young white male attorney: You have to do very good work. You have to work hard and deliver good results to clients effi ciently and effectively. Build relation- ships within your fi rm and outside your fi rm that allow you to assume leadership roles.

As a minority attorney, do you feel like you bring something extra to the table?

BL: I think that everybody, whether you’re a person of color or not, brings something special to the table by virtue of their background. What I bring to the table isn’t the fact that I’m Chinese, but I think more so the manner in which my family raised me.




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