Law Firms

Law firms test 'Mansfield rule' to promote more women and minorities into leadership roles

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Thirty large law firms have pledged to test a new “Mansfield rule” that requires 30 percent of its leadership candidates to be minorities and women.

The rule is named after Arabella Mansfield, the first woman admitted to practice law in the United States, report the Am Law Daily (sub. req.) and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

The rule requires women and minorities to comprise at least 30 percent of the candidates for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, and lateral positions, according to a press release (PDF).

Caren Ulrich Stacy, CEO of the Diversity Lab, is partnering with the law firms in the pilot project. The firms will “help us form the idea, put it into fruition, see what works, see what doesn’t work,” she told the Am Law Daily.

The rule is modeled after the NFL’s Rooney rule requiring that at least one minority be among those interviewed for positions as head coach or general manager.

The rule has evolved since it was first proposed by Munger, Tolles & Olson partner Mark Helm at the Women in Law Hackathon law summer, according to the Am Law Daily. The initial idea was for firms to agree to interview at least one woman for each law firm leadership role. Now there is a 30 percent requirement, and minorities are included.

Law firms that successfully test the rule will be “Mansfield certified” and be able to send their recently promoted diverse lawyers to meet with general counsel from 45 legal departments at a client forum.

The press release lists 26 firms that are among the 30 firms testing the rule. They are: Akerman; Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer; Blank Rome; Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney; Cooley; Dentons; DLA Piper; Faegre Baker Daniels; Fasken Martineau; Fenwick & West; Fish & Richardson; Holland & Hart; Holland & Knight; Jenner & Block; Miller Canfield; Morgan Lewis; Morrison & Foerster; Munger, Tolles & Olson; O’Melveny & Myers; Orrick; Paul Hastings; Reed Smith; Seyfarth Shaw; White & Case; WilmerHale; and Winston & Strawn.

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