The Partner Track
By Helen Wan
St. Martin’s Press, 2013
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.