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Legal Chiefs See Beyond Gender in New Diversity Hiring Goals (1)

Oct. 21, 2021, 5:15 PMUpdated: Oct. 21, 2021, 8:28 PM

Corporate law departments will need to consider applicants who have a disability, are non-White or LGBTQ, under new hiring goals by a non-profit group that promotes diversity in the legal profession.

Many legal chiefs rely too much on gender to meet the goal that 50% of applicants they consider are diverse, said Leila Hock, chief growth officer for Diversity Lab. The new target is that at least 20% of the applicant pool are disabled, non-White or LGBTQ, she said.

“We’re really trying to highlight these groups that often get overshadowed in broad swath diversity issues,” Hock told Bloomberg Law.

The change is part of Diversity Lab’s new version—and third overall—of the Mansfield Rule for legal departments. The group created the rule, which legal departments voluntarily adopt with the goal of increasing diversity among their ranks.

More than 40 legal departments have signed on to the new version of the rule, including 3M Co., AbbVie Inc., Clorox Co., Gilead Sciences Inc., MetLife Inc., Regions Financial Corp., United Airlines Holdings Inc., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., Bridgestone Corp. in the Americas, and Amtrak.

“We are a fairly diverse group, at least within the US, but we could do better,” 3M associate general counsel Eric Rucker told Bloomberg Law. “We are underrepresented in some of those categories, and we weren’t doing a good job of tracking our data or collecting the data in some of those areas.”

He added, “This program will help us track better data, understand where we are and what we’re doing, and that will lead to better results.”

While Hock said there is no demographic data available for all legal departments in the U.S., it’s clear that the profession has a long way to go before the makeup of employees reflects the wider population.

In 2020, only a quarter of law firm partners were women and just over 10% were people of color, according to data from the National Association for Law Placement. Overall numbers of Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American lawyers have barely changed in the last decade.

The new version of the Mansfield Rule also requires that 50% of the outside firms a legal department considers are either owned by underrepresented lawyers or reward financial credit for new matters to underrepresented owners.

“Mansfield Rule has always been about more than just hiring, but for legal departments, and particularly smaller departments—they have five, 10 lawyers—there’s not a lot to take action on,” Hock said. “So we added some additional activities.”

The program requires participating legal departments to identify gaps in their hiring practices by tracking hiring and recruiting based on specific populations such as gender or race rather than as one diverse pool.

Diversity Lab in September announced 118 law firms were certified under the group’s latest version of the Mansfield Rule for law firms. Certified firms ensured that 30% of their candidate pools for open roles and promotion opportunities comprised underrepresented populations.

Firms certified under the latest version of the Mansfield Rule include Akin Gump, Baker McKenzie, Cooley, Locke Lord, Mayer Brown, Paul Hastings, Vinson & Elkins, Duane Morris, and WilmerHale.

“There’s a saying that, ‘That which gets measured, gets done,’” said Duane Morris partner and chief diversity and inclusion officer Joe West. “Mansfield not only acts as a clearinghouse for information, a source of best practices, but it’s also a yardstick.”

He added, “It is a tool for measuring progress, and it’s done so in a very thoughtful and very rigorous way.”

(Added comments from Eric Rucker and Joe West.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.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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