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Law Firms Seek Diversity by Recruiting at ‘Overlooked’ Schools

Oct. 17, 2019, 10:07 PM

Law firms seeking to diversify their ranks are expanding recruitment efforts at law schools “that tend to get overlooked,” according to the director of diversity efforts at Goodwin Procter LLP.

“We tend to fish in the same ponds for the same talent,” Goodwin’s Bernard Guinyard told lawmakers at an Oct. 17 hearing by the House Financial Services Committee’s panel on diversity.

The bid to broaden recruitment is part of a five-year diversity initiative launched in September by a group that includes Goodwin, four other law firms, and in-house lawyers at more than 25 companies.

The representation of women and minorities as entry-level lawyers is in line with that of recent law school graduates, but diversity drops off as lawyers move up in rank, according to data from the National Association for Law Placement.

Goodwin and other law firms also have promoted diversity by adopting the so-called Mansfield Rule, which requires applicant pools to include lawyers who are women, minorities, or LGBTQ. The rule is named after Arabella Mansfield, the first female attorney to obtain a law license in the U.S., and modeled on the National Football League’s Rooney Rule.

“It’s definitely having an impact,” Guinyard said at the hearing. Goodwin’s most senior leadership committees are now 35% diverse, he said.

The hearing was one of a series held by the first-of-its-kind diversity subcommittee that have spotlighted the lack of diversity in corporate America.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Roger Yu at; Seth Stern at