Cleary Celebrates AANHPI Heritage Month With Helen Wan

May 31, 2023

Cleary Gottlieb, in partnership with the Asian American Bar Association of New York, hosted its Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Heritage Month event, “Forging Your Own Track: A Celebration of the AANHPI Community,” featuring Helen Wan, novelist; lawyer; diversity, equity, and inclusion speaker; and author of The Partner Track.

Cleary Managing Partner Michael Gerstenzang provided welcome remarks, and associate Hoori Kim moderated the discussion.

Helen discussed her life and career as a lawyer-turned-bestselling author. Before focusing on her writing, she practiced intellectual property law in New York for many years, both at law firms and as in-house counsel at Time Warner Inc. and A&E Television Networks. Most recently, she was VP & Associate General Counsel at Hachette Book Group USA.

Now a hit Netflix show, Helen began writing The Partner Track during her subway commute as a first-year associate at a large New York law firm. The novel, which was published by Macmillan in 2013, follows an Asian American woman lawyer and her colleagues competing for partnership and navigating the corporate culture at an elite global law firm. The book is taught in law schools and universities, primarily in 1L seminars, Law & Literature and Ethics courses, and is also used by many law firms, schools, and companies in dialogues and trainings about advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Helen is fascinated by, among other things, group dynamics and our complicated relationship with ambition. She writes often about how race, gender, socioeconomic class, privilege, family history, and societal expectations impact our “pursuit of happiness.” Her nonfiction work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and on

She has served on the boards of The New York Women’s Bar Association Foundation, The Asian American Arts Alliance, and the Executive Committee of Amherst College.

Cleary is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. The firm regularly hosts important cultural events and guest speakers whose presentations afford opportunities to broaden awareness, heighten the level of discussion, and establish a culture of inclusion at the firm. To learn more about Cleary’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, click here.