Pilot of ‘Mansfield Rule’ Shows Early Diversity Progress at Firms


• New policy on diversity hiring is taking hold in legal market
• Expansion, 2.0-version, coming in matter of weeks


It’s been just six months since the adoption of a policy to consider more women and minority job candidates, and some law firms are already showing progress.

The Mansfield Rule, named after the first woman admitted to the bar in the U.S., requires firms to consider at least 30 percent women and minority lawyers for significant leadership roles, lateral openings, and equity partner promotions. It was adopted by 44 law firms last year and has been supported by more than 70 legal departments, including American Express, BASF, Google, Salesforce, 3M, and Target.

Before implementing the rule, almost 75 percent of participating firms didn’t 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 organization that designed the rule.

Job descriptions can provide transparency in the hiring process, thereby helping attorneys from marginalized groups.

“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,” Caren Ulrich Stacy, CEO of Diversity Lab, said in a statement.   

At the six-month check-in mark, 95 percent 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 percent of participating firms said they increased formal discussions about broadening the pool for partnership promotions.  

“For those who have been doing so, we will be able to evaluate at year-end whether the firms have considered a more or less diverse candidate population and also whether or not they increased the representation of diverse individuals in leadership,” Ulrich Stacy told Bloomberg Law.

Stacy said she hopes to see improved diversity at participating firms “within 12-24 months.”

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 color. 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.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Russell-Kraft in New York at srussellkraft@gmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom P. Taylor at ttaylor@bloomberglaw.com