Mansfield Rule Overview
The Mansfield Rule, inspired by a winning idea at the Women in Law Hackathon, aims to boost diversity in leadership by broadening the pool of talent considered for leadership roles. The current certification process requires law firms to consider at least 30% historically underrepresented lawyers – including women lawyers, underrepresented racial and ethnic lawyers, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities – when promoting or appointing to leadership roles, among a dozen other actions that focus on the path to leadership. Legal departments are asked to consider 50% diversity for top internal roles and outside counsel.
Mansfield’s methods are grounded in behavioral science, including the 30/50% consideration requirement, which researchers have found is the critical mass necessary to disrupt biases. The structural elements of the certification process are key to this effort, specifically:
- the accountability through frequent law firm and legal department check-ins, data collection, and reporting;
- the ongoing collaboration of participants through monthly group knowledge sharing forums; and
- the transparency of publicly certifying.
Diversity Lab works with participants to measure the outcomes and iterate the requirements to push boundaries every year. And to ensure Mansfield’s long-term results, there is an increasingly difficult “Certification Plus” category that evaluates whether firms and legal departments have achieved diversity in leadership, not just considered it.
Early outcomes (here and here) show Mansfield is working at its intended purpose to diversify leadership. As proven by the certified law firm leaders’ own words in late 2021 regarding their individual results (here), Mansfield organizations’ management and diversity experts have worked really hard to push for and achieve these meaningful results. Together, we are moving the needle. And while the outcomes are promising, there is more to be done.
Mansfield Expansion & Participating Organizations
When the pilot certification first launched for large law firms in 2017 with 35+ firms, the primary requirement was to consider at least 30% women lawyers and underrepresented racial and ethnic lawyers for leadership roles. Versions 2.0 through 5.0 were intentionally broadened steadily each year to include LGBTQ+ lawyers and lawyers with disabilities as well as critical pipeline activities (e.g., client pitch teams, senior-level lateral hiring), transparent leadership role descriptions, and more. To build on this momentum, new pilots were recently launched for midsize firms, legal departments, and UK firms. Click here to view Mansfield’s evolution.
As of 2022, there are 270+ U.S. large and midsize law firms, 15+ UK law firms, and 75+ legal departments participating in the certification process. Click on each version below for a list of participating organizations and more details.
If your organization is interested in participating, sign up here for an upcoming info session.
U.S., Canada & UK Large Law Firms
The parameters and list of U.S., UK, and Canadian large firms participating in the 2021-2022 certification process can be found here. (Certification results will be announced in Fall 2022.)
For the recently launched 2022-2023 version, the updated requirements and participating U.S. and Canadian law firms can be found here.
U.S. Midsize Law Firms
The details and list of participating midsize firms can be found here.
Diversifying Leadership: How the Mansfield Rule is Driving Change, Bloomberg
The Data Is Out: Mansfield Firms Have Grown Diverse Leadership 30 Times More Than Over Firms, The American Lawyer
How Lawyers are Working to Change Their Industry’s Diversity Problem, Fortune
Upcoming Knowledge Sharing Forum
If your organization is interested in learning more about Mansfield, sign up here for an upcoming info session.