The Partner Track, by Helen Wan


The Partner Track

By Helen Wan

St. Martin’s Press, 2013

294 pages

Ingrid Yung has done her time at Parsons Valentine & Hunt LLP, a corporate law firm. She has worked up the ranks and as a Chinese American woman is poised to become the first minority female partner. She works in the mergers-and-acquisitions division and has just been given an important case. As long as it goes well, partnership should be hers. The novel unfolds over the course of a few months during which Ingrid balances work on the acquisition, a relationship with a colleague and a request that she join the firm’s Diversity Initiative.

Despite her successes, Ingrid struggles to be seen and to be treated as an equal by the white male lawyers who are oblivious to how much race and gender influence their perspectives on the world. Wan deftly sets the context of the firm, including banter in the staff dining room (aka the Jury Box), the politics of the annual summer picnic, and the day-to-day drudgery of the work, then she homes in on the places and situations where Ingrid is overlooked or misperceived. I felt very close to Ingrid, who is a funny, insightful and self-deprecating narrator. This book is well-paced and written in clear and insightful prose. I much enjoyed the story and Wan vividly brings to life the experiences of a minority female lawyer in a corporate law firm.

Wan is a lawyer and has worked at corporate firms in New York and as Associate General Counsel at Time Inc. I discovered this book when I heard her read at the Lit at Lark series. She was profiled in The Washington Post earlier this year.






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4 responses to “The Partner Track, by Helen Wan

  1. louise crawford

    particularly timely given the focus this week on women and wages.

  2. LGM

    Looks like a good one–I found the Wash Post article interesting as well. I do believe we continue to make progress, but a book like this is a reminder of how deep these issues still run.

  3. Good point, Laura. I think we all need those reminders as it can be easy to believe we live in a “post-racial” and “post-feminist” world when in fact many of the race and gender issues that have plagued us for centuries still exist, even if they are less pronounced.

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