04 July 2018

Diversity pilot reports positive disruption in legal departments and firms

Pilot project of 70 legal departments and 44 law firms reveals diversity is positively 'disrupting' dialogue and practices.

Six months after the adoption of ‘Mansfield Rule,’ a policy to consider more women and minority job candidates, a pilot project reveals progress made by legal departments and law firms. The Mansfield rule was named after the first woman admitted to the bar in the US, and requires firms to consider at least 30 percent women and minority lawyers for significant leadership roles, lateral openings, and equity partner promotions. It has been supported by more than 70 legal departments, including American Express, BASF, Google, Salesforce, 3M, and Target. It has also been adopted by 44 law firms.

Job descriptions

Before implementing the rule, almost 75 per cent of participating firms did not have written job descriptions for leadership roles. Six months after adopting the rule, more than half of those firms had adopted written job descriptions, according to a new progress report published by Diversity Lab, the organisation that designed the rule. Caren Ulrich Stacy, CEO of Diversity Lab, said in a statement ‘While six months, and even one year, is certainly not enough time to completely uproot old processes and change law firm cultures, these early indicators show that the Mansfield Rule’s discipline and accountability measures are already disrupting dialogues and practices within firms.’ At the six-month check-in mark, 95 per cent of participating firms reported an increase in formal discussions among firm leaders about broadening the pool of diverse candidates for lateral hiring and leadership promotions, according to Diversity Lab. Eighty-three per cent of participating firms said they increased formal discussions about broadening the pool for partnership promotions. 

Mansfield 2.0

The report comes just weeks before the launch of the “Mansfield Rule 2.0,” which will include LGBTQ+ lawyers in addition to women and attorneys of colour. The new rule will also require firms to make their election processes transparent and to measure which lawyers are being considered for client pitch meetings. More than 30 law firms piloting the Mansfield Rule have already agreed to implement version 2.0, and 12 new firms have joined so far, according to Diversity Lab. The deadline for law firms to sign up for the 2.0 certification process is July 6.