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Clubhouse Hires Ex-Big Law Associate, Legal Inclusion Advocate

June 16, 2021, 9:36 AM

Mackenzie Tudor, who as a law student helped develop the Mansfield Rule to improve diversity and inclusion in the legal industry, has become one of the first in-house lawyers at Clubhouse.

The invitation-only social media app, owned by Alpha Exploration Co., hired the former Latham & Watkins associate to fill an operations and policy role in April, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Clubhouse, co-founded by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, has carved out a niche of Black users since launching last year. The startup has said it wants to grow slowly as a means of creating a diverse, secure, and stable platform.

The company’s smartphone app became popular during the coronavirus pandemic for its audio-based conversation format that mimicked water-cooler conversations in offices, suddenly devoid of workers due to the spread of Covid-19. Clubhouse gradually grew its audience and in May its app was made available to Android users.

Tudor, known as Kenzie to colleagues, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment about her new position.

She recently used LinkedIn to post a link to other job openings at Clubhouse, which in April saw venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz lead a Series C funding round valuing the social media company at roughly $4 billion. Bloomberg News reported that same month that Twitter Inc. had held talks about buying Clubhouse.

The San Francisco-based company, which has generated both controversy and accolades since its launch in March 2020, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Clubhouse, which doesn’t appear to have a law department leader, drew scrutiny earlier this year over cybersecurity and data privacy concerns involving its platform.

Legal Ranks

Clubhouse employs at least two other lawyers in non-legal positions.

Stephanie Simon, a former basketball player at the University of Oklahoma who went on to work as a corporate associate at Troutman Sanders and Morris, Manning & Martin in Atlanta, is a marketing consultant who now serves as Clubhouse’s head of community, creators, and partnerships.

L. Crystal Mais, a California attorney who most recently worked in global marketing at Netflix Inc., joined Clubhouse this month in a partnerships and community role.

Neither lawyer responded to requests for comment. Nor did Matthew Hintz, an intellectual property partner at Lowenstein Sandler in Roseland, N.J., who has filed for trademarks on behalf of Clubhouse parent Alpha Exploration.

The startup’s social media success has led other technology companies to ramp up their own audio chat expertise.

Facebook Inc. and Twitter are pushing into the audio medium. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom represented Spotify Technology SA in March on its $50 million purchase of Betty Labs Inc., owner of Clubhouse competitor Locker Room. Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian advised Betty Labs.

‘Impenetrable Concrete’

Tudor’s in-house mandate at Clubhouse is unclear. During her time at Stanford Law School she co-authored a white paper looking at how a ceiling comprised of “impenetrable concrete”—not glass—was holding back women in Big Law.

Tudor, co-president of the Stanford National Black Alumni Association, was also part of a team that inspired the current version of the Mansfield Rule, an initiative modeled on the National Football League’s Rooney Rule and named after Arabella Mansfield, the first woman to obtain a U.S. law license.

“She was an amazing contributor to the team,” said Carin Ulrich Stacy, CEO of Diversity Lab LLC, a Bay Area-based incubator that piloted the Mansfield Rule at select law firms and subsequently broadened its mission.

The initial version of the Mansfield Rule was crafted in 2016 during a Women in Law Hackathon sponsored by Bloomberg Law, Diversity Lab, and Stanford Law School. The “Shark Tank”-style competition’s first focus for the Mansfield Rule was to consider at least one woman lawyer for leadership roles within a firm.

Diversity Lab has since expanded on that idea by asking that its member firms consider at least 30% “historically underrepresented lawyers”—not just women—on everything from influential leadership roles and client pitches to senior lawyer hiring and promotions to equity partnerships, Stacy said.

‘Tremendous Asset’

Tudor was “a tremendous asset to the legal profession as a student and continues to be,” said Stacy, when asked by Bloomberg Law about the newly hired Clubhouse employee’s Mansfield Rule-related work.

In a Black History Month interview this past February with the website I’m the HBIC, Tudor spoke about her decision to leave Big Law last year for The Tribe, a networking platform for women of color she started after working in Latham’s Boston office.

“It was hard to give up the security and prestige, particularly when there were already so few Black women in my position,” Tudor told I’m the HBIC. “I took a risk to do something I was passionate about and it was definitely scary. I also had to prove to the startup world that The Tribe was needed.”

Tudor noted that women of color often make “significantly less” than their White male and female peers and also only hold a small percentage of C-suite positions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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