More than 100 law firms clear Mansfield Rule certification with D&I efforts

Early adopters of the scheme have been shown to diversify management committees by more than 30 times the rate of non-Mansfield firms


All 118 law firms participating in the latest round of Diversity Lab’s Mansfield programme have achieved certification, a first since the programme began in 2017. 

The full certifications were awarded to the firms following a 12-month collaboration with Diversity Lab in a year when the US-based organisation was concerned participating firms would push diversity and inclusion measures to the wayside as a result of the extra resources required to stave off the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Among the cohort of Mansfield 4.0 firms are Am Law 100 heavyweights Latham & Watkins, McDermott Will & Emery, Baker McKenzie, DLA Piper, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. Uk Magic Circle trio Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are also on the roster.

Inspired by the NFL’s Rooney Rule, the Mansfield Rule was one of the winning ideas from the Women in Law Hackathon hosted by Diversity Lab in 2016. The programme is designed to grow the racial and ethnic diversity of those firm’s management committees so that at least 30% of candidates are from underrepresented groups. 

In addition to the standard Mansfield Rule certifications, 92 of the certified firms achieved ‘Mansfield Plus’ — a status indicating that the the firms successfully reached at least 30% of the lawyers working on matters resulting from formal pitch meetings to be from underrepresented groups on top of the requirement these lawyers make up 30% of notable current leadership roles. 

Early analysis of the data from firms that have participated in the programme since its inception showed that they diversified their management committees at more than 30 times the rate of non-Mansfield firms between 2017 and 2019. 

Natalia Marulanda, Mansfield Rule director at Diversity Lab, commented: “Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, the Mansfield Rule certified firms have not deviated from their goal of ensuring that law firm leadership reflects the rich diversity of the profession. We are enormously proud to work with such a committed group of firms."

The organisation also announced it would begin the second iteration of its programme for mid-sized law firms, named Midsize Mansfield Rule, which launches today. More than 70 mid-sized firms will join last year’s 25 participants in a version of the scheme modelled after the one designed for larger firms to boost diversity in leadership for firms with smaller lawyer headcounts, single office locations and leaner firm leadership structures. 

Brian Donelly, managing partner of participating mid-sized firm Farella Braun + Martel, said: “Through embracing challenging, innovative initiatives — like the Midsize Mansfield Rule — as part of a community of firms with these common goals, we believe we can help drive positive change that benefits the entire legal ecosystem.” 

Boosting diversity and inclusion has been at the forefront of the legal community zeitgeist in recent years. Earlier this week, former Kirkland & Ellis partner Jon Henes founded a diversity, equality and inclusion-focused strategic consulting firm, C Street, to help guide C-suites and law firms on business strategy with diversity and inclusion in mind. 

And Jenner & Block, a ‘Mansfield Plus’ certification recipient, launched a new culture risk and sensitive investigations practice in July focused on helping companies navigate cultural and compliance issues amid a rise in demand for advice related to unhealthy workplace cultures, particularly over matters concerning gender and race. The practice is co-chaired by partners Christine Braamskamp in London and Anne Cortina Perry in New York. 

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