Baker Botts, Hogan Lovells, and Dechert are included in a noticeably larger group of law firms boosting diversity in candidate pools for leadership positions, such as equity partnerships.
Sixty-four firms this year met Mansfield Rule criteria established by the Diversity Lab, an incubator for increasing diversity and inclusion in law, compared with 40 last year. The year-long period ended in July.
“We recognize that it matters to our clients. One of them is Shell Oil, which is highly committed to diversity. Another is AT&T,” said Baker Botts Houston partner Gail Stewart.
“We focused on all the categories, and it took a lot of work to bring it all together,” she said.
Under pressure to change, law firms overall have been picking up the pace on diversity. They’ve hired more directors of diversity and inclusion to create a broader field of candidates externally and internally for hiring and promotion.
The Mansfield Rule was launched in 2018 to counter the static situation of women and minorities in law firms. This 2019 effort is Mansfield 2.0. A disability category was added for to create Mansfield 3.0 for the 2020 period.
It’s modeled after the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for a general manager or head coaching slot.
Firms achieving certification must consider at least 30 percent women, lawyers of color, or LGBTQ+ lawyers for categories such as leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, client pitches and senior lateral positions.
The jump seen in 2019 follows a letter signed by more than 200 general counsels in January warning firms that they stand to lose work if their teams aren’t diverse.
More than 90 percent of the Mansfield-participating firms reported a higher percentage of diverse lawyers taking part in formal pitches to clients this year, the Diversity Lab said.
And 65 percent promoted a higher percentage of diverse lawyers into equity partnership, an area where women and minorities have long lagged.
Nearly 80 percent of participating firms reported a higher percentage of diverse senior associates brought in laterally.
Lisa Kirby, chief intelligence and knowledge sharing officer for the Diversity Lab, said the group wanted “to raise the bar for firms every year.”
Anna Brown, director of global diversity and inclusion for Baker McKenzie, said the program is a chance “to have a broader discussion and share best practices.”
Brown said Mansfield “focuses you on a plan, and there is a timetable.”
Baker McKenzie and Baker Botts both reached the 30 percent goal across most of its current leadership roles and committees.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati also joined the list of firms that qualified this year.
Hogan Lovells and four other firms have volunteered to participate in a pilot for the next round of Mansfield certification to measure how individual demographic groups are faring in law firm recruitment and promotion.