Under a one year pilot program, thirty U.S. law firms have agreed to adopt a policy that requires them to consider women and minority lawyers when it comes to promoting and hiring talent.
Senior in-house lawyers from HP, Facebook, PayPal, American Express, Target, Walmart, Microsoft and other companies have agreed to meet privately with beneficiaries of the program. [See the full list of law firms and companies involved below.]
The policy is titled the Mansfield Rule after the first U.S. woman lawyer, Arabella Mansfield, who was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1869 and spent her career as an educator and activist, teaching at Iowa Wesleyan College and DePauw University.
According to the rule, law firms must consider women and minorities for at least 30 percent of the candidate pools for leadership positions, equity partner promotions and outside hires.
The law firms will adopt the rule for a pilot period, which started June 1 and extends to May 31, 2018.
Caren Ulrich Stacy, CEO of Diversity Lab, worked with the firms over the past year to discuss implementing the policy. The policy was one idea to resolve the legal profession’s gender gap at last year’s Women in Law Hackathon at Stanford Law School, where lawyers proposed a number of possible solutions to resolving gender equity in firms.
[Disclosure: The conference was sponsored by Bloomberg Law.]
“We only invited the Hackathon firms to do it,” said Stacy. “But I will tell you, as I have talked about this, other firms have called to ask to be included. And the answer is, ‘of course.’ The more firms we have touting this idea, the more information and feedback we will have about what does and doesn’t work. We are including additional firms over the next couple weeks.”
A few things about the Mansfield Rule, as it was proposed at last year’s conference, have changed. For one thing, the rule now covers both women and minorities, as opposed to just women, and as a benefit of participating, Stacey has lined up senior leaders from 45 in-house law departments to meet with diverse lawyers who are promoted as a result of the Mansfield Rule.
The meetings will take place at three separate private events in September 2018, when law firm participants will convene at conferences in San Francisco, New York and Twin Cities.
“They all said yes, nobody has said no,” said Stacy, of the in-house teams, expecting that more will join. “Most said this is a no brainer. It gives us the ability to meet newly promoted diverse counsel and it shows our commitment to greater outside counsel diversity.”
Jim Shaughnessy, general counsel of Workday, said that while his company has used a number of participating law firms — such as Fenwick & West, Cooley, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and O’Melveny & Myers — he noted that he was looking forward to meeting new outside counsel contacts through the program.
“We have been committed [to diversity] since the beginning and it is part of the company’s core beliefs,” said Shaughnessy. “It fuels innovation and it gives us as a company and as people a broader connection with the world.”
Workday has 75 professionals in its law department, he said, roughly two thirds of whom have law degrees. Their legal work focuses on M&A, intellectual property, regulatory and policy counseling.
Said Stacy: “We’ve seen a lot of legal departments say, ‘If you don’t increase your diversity, we’ll take your work away.'”
She added, “I think this is more of the carrot approach. The legal departments are saying, ‘This is important to us and if you do it, we’ll try really hard to make sure you benefit from that.”
The participating law firms are:
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer
Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
Faegre Baker Daniels
Fenwick & West
Fish & Richardson
Holland & Hart
Holland & Knight
Jenner & Block
Morrison & Foerster
Munger, Tolles & Olson
O’Melveny & Myers
White & Case
Winston & Strawn
In-house counsel participants are:
Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
Boston Children’s Hospital
Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
Compass Minerals International, Inc.
First National Bank
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
PNC Financial Services Group
Toyota Material Handling USA
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
Waddell & Reed