As MCCA's 20th Approaches, Meet New CEO Jean Lee
The new CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, Jean Lee, comes from in-house—as JPMorgan Chase VP and Assistant GC—but is no stranger to advancing diversity and inclusiveness.
We caught up with Jean, who comes on board in March to replace Joe West (who joined Duane Morris as a trial partner and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer).
MCCA's first Asian American CEO, Jean has served on MCCA's board for the past three years and has been a member and corporate member. She tells us she worked on inclusiveness as a member of JP Morgan's Global Legal Diversity Committee. At MCCA, "rather than focusing part of my time on it, I'll be devoted 100% to issues I'm really passionate about, every day."
A first-generation Korean American, Jean immigrated to the US at 8 years old. She's been honored as a Trailblazer by the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York and a Catalyst Agent by the Council of Urban Professionals, and served as the president of the Asian American Bar Association of New York in 2012 and continues serving on its board of directors. She's relocating to the District in her one-week break between jobs.
Before joining JPMorgan, Jean was a litigator at Milberg and Entwistle & Cappucci, an attorney for the Port of Authority of NY and NJ and Sullivan & Cromwell, a clerk for Judge John Hughes, and a forensic social worker for Legal Aid.
As CEO, Jean says her first priority is putting together a plan to share MCCA's vision, especially as its 20th anniversary approaches next year. The organization was founded to advance the hiring, retention and promotion of diverse attorneys in legal departments and law firms. "I was always inspired by thought leadership and best practices it provides to corporations like JP Morgan through programs like the Academy for Leadership and Inclusion," says Jean.
There's been a lot of research about the business case for diversity, points out Jean. Still, between the 2013 and 2015 general counsel surveys conducted by MCCA, the number of African-American general counsels decreased from 54 to 51, she says. MCCA, corporations and law firms have to really partner together to ensure we're developing the pipeline and not becoming complacent: "There's still a lot of work to do, and we're happy to do it."