Yen Chu | Becoming an Effective General Counsel and Using Your Voice To Drive Social Change

Yen ChuYen Chu is the Chief Legal Officer of Equinox, an integrated fitness, wellness, and hospitality company. In this role, Yen oversees legal, ESG, government affairs, and community relations. She has led Equinox’s growth with the launches of new ventures and businesses, including the first Equinox Hotels, and is the Executive Sponsor for its Equality + Belonging Leadership Council.

Yen is a graduate of Columbia Law School and a member of the Board of Directors of the Columbia Law School Association and the nonprofit DirectWomen. Prior to joining Equinox, she spent 11 years in leadership roles at the Ralph Lauren Corporation, working closely with the Board of Directors and executive team. Yen began her legal career as a corporate attorney at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where she spent nearly a decade executing complex corporate transactions for private equity firms, investment banks, and public and private companies.

As an executive leader with 25 years of experience, Yen understands the importance of using your voice to uplift others, taking a stand on ESG issues, and admitting what you don’t know. In addition to these principles, Yen has built her career using a growth mindset, and she’s always looking to expand her knowledge and learn from others.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Yen Chu talks about her leadership position at Equinox and her career journey
  • What skills do you need to succeed in the role of general counsel?
  • Yen explains how the role of in-house counsel has changed over the years
  • Why Yen actively works with many organizations at a volunteer level
  • Yen’s impactful and timely keynote speech at the University of Pennsylvania
  • What Yen learned from the past two years of the pandemic and social upheaval
  • The value of admitting what you don’t know and reaching out for help

In this episode…

Over the past two decades, the role of in-house and general counsel lawyers has evolved. These positions are no longer perceived as cushy nine-to-five jobs and are now more focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives within a company. This shift has only become more dramatic over the last two years, with social upheaval and a global crisis altering the way organizations operate. So, what makes an effective general counsel today?

According to Yen Chu, in-house attorneys have to be prepared to pivot, give a voice to the underrepresented, and learn from those who are different from them. Most importantly, Yen advises leaders and lawyers alike to execute with kindness and always remember the human aspect of their jobs. The recent global pandemic, social and political upheaval, and economic instability have affected so many lives — it’s imperative that we focus on the humanity of our actions, not just the results.

In this episode of The Lawyer’s Edge Podcast, Elise Holtzman talks with Yen Chu, Chief Legal Officer of Equinox, about succeeding as an in-house lawyer and leader in today’s climate. Yen discusses the importance of creating a diverse and inclusive space, the key to thriving outside of your comfort zone, and how to drive growth and social change through continuous learning.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by The Lawyer’s Edge, a firm based in the New York metropolitan area founded by Elise Holtzman in 2008 to help lawyers become skilled business developers and leaders so that they can grow their practices, retain top talent, and step confidently into leadership roles.

The firm offers customized coaching, consulting, and training programs such as their signature business development program, Lawyers Making Rain.

Now more than ever, it’s not enough to just do good work and hope your law firm will thrive. And no matter how smart and hard-working you are, it can be time-consuming and overwhelming to figure it all out by yourself.

To learn more about how we help lawyers become rainmakers and leaders, visit or email us at

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