Can the Mansfield Rule Increase Women and Minority Leadership?

mansfield rule big lawIn 1869, Arabella Mansfield became the first female lawyer in the United States, after challenging the law that made it illegal for her and other females to practice law after she passed the Iowa bar exam. Nearly 150 years later, another Mansfield hopes to disrupt the status quo in the our nation’s law firm setting.

Proposed at last year’s Women In Law Hackathon, the Mansfield Rule plans to close the gap between women and minorities in leadership roles at BigLaw firms.

Similar to the Rooney Rule in the NFL, the Mansfield Rule will require law firms to include at least 30% of women and minority lawyers in the prospective candidate pools for any leadership or governance position offered at participating firms. This includes equity partnership and lateral positions as well.

To date, 30 law firms have promised to adopt the Mansfield Rule. To ensure that their adoption comes to fruition, the Diversity Lab (the brains behind the Women In Law Hackathon) formulated a one-year pilot program to help hold participating firms accountable.

From June 1st to May 31st, 2018, each of the 30 law firms and the Diversity Lab will do their part to increase representation in more law firm leadership roles across the country. Those participating will have the opportunity to introduce their newly promoted minority and female leaders to a group of 45 in-house law departments including Facebook, HP, Target, PayPal, and more in September 2018 at conferences in San Francisco, New York, and the Twin Cities.

As we have written before, representation matters in the legal profession. If we want to increase diversity in the legal profession, we have to start with leadership.

At this year’s The Future Is Now conference, Dennis Garcia stated the facts. 64% of the profession is male and 88% of it is white. He went on to reference the McKinsey Report, which showcased that organizations with more diverse employees outperformed competitors by 35% in terms of financial returns. Talk about a return on your investment. We at the Commission hope those participating firms reap even greater rewards.

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