More than a dozen law firms increased the representation of women and people of color in their leadership positions within one year of implementing a rule designed to increase diversity in the hiring process.
The rule, known as the Mansfield Rule, requires law firms to consider applicant pools consisting of at least 30 percent women and attorneys of color for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, and senior lateral positions. The rule was named after Arabella Mansfield, the first female attorney to obtain a law license in the U.S.
Forty-one law firms recently completed a one year pilot program of the rule under the guidance of Diversity Lab, a company dedicated to increasing diversity in the legal field.
On Monday, Diversity Lab reported that 40 percent of those firms had increased diversity in their leadership ranks. In addition, 33 percent increased the number of women and diverse senior associates hired and 38 percent increased the number of women and diverse lawyers promoted to partner.
In addition, all 41 participating firms are now tracking their hiring, promotion, and leadership pipelines, according to Diversity Lab.
The Mansfield Rule was modeled after the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to consider at least one minority candidate for each head coaching position. The rule is intended to disrupt the implicit biases that keep many non-white, non-male candidates from even being considered for jobs.
“Prior to implementation of the rule, many of our laterals were initially identified and/or introduced to us by existing Miller Canfield attorneys or friends of the firm,” said Michelle Crockett, a principal at Miller Canfield, one of the participating law firms.
Now, the firm takes additional steps to make sure that more qualified women and people of color are considered for available positions, Crockett said.
“We place a tremendous value on cultivating and promoting our diverse professionals, recognizing that it is important to continually identify opportunities for advancement and improvement in this space,” Christopher A. Lewis, Blank Rome’s chief diversity and inclusion officer said in a statement.
Blank Rome, which also participated in the pilot program, noted its newly promoted diverse and women partners would have the opportunity to attend upcoming Diversity Lab events, where they will be able to network with each other and with lawyers from 60 corporate legal departments.
The firm also said it would be a partner in the Mansfield 2.0 program. Mansfield 2.0 is a new version of the rule that includes LGBTQ+ lawyers and is currently being rolled out at 65 law firms, according to Diversity Lab. The updated version will require firms to track who they consider for client pitch meetings and to make transparent their election and appointment processes.
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