The Mansfield Rule is a structured certification process designed to ensure all talent at participating law firms and legal departments have a fair and equal opportunity to advance into leadership. Mansfield is focused on broadening the talent pool for consideration, including those historically underrepresented in the legal profession, to facilitate transparent leadership pathways.
Industry data shows that leadership in law firms and legal departments does not reflect the diversity of the workforce or society. Since lawyers often have an immense societal footprint – often branching out from leadership in private practice and companies to take on roles where their decisions reverberate massively across the public and private sectors – equity in the legal profession at the leadership level is crucial.
Important Note: There is no intent in the design or parameters to exclude any talent from consideration for opportunities at any participating law firms or legal departments. The focus is on inclusivity, consistent with the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity. Mansfield does not ever require an organization to violate the law in any way. Proper implementation of these efforts never requires a set aside, a quota, or the use of any criteria other than the selection and promotion of the highest qualified candidate for an opportunity. It is the obligation of each organization to consult with its own legal and human resources departments before implementing Mansfield. An effective Mansfield organization follows the law carefully and engages with internal resources to achieve implementation.
The Mansfield Certification is a science-backed and data-driven solution designed to help boost inclusivity, access, and diversity in leadership at law firms and legal departments through four main pillars:
✅ Shifting cultures through tracking and considering a broad pool of talent for leadership;
✅ Increasing transparency by requiring firms to internally publish the criteria and processes for advancement to leadership;
✅ Communicating career development and advancement opportunities widely; and
✅ Sharing knowledge to work together, learn together, and succeed together as a community.
The Mansfield methodology is grounded in behavioral science, including the consideration requirements that researchers show are necessary for access to and representation in leadership. The structural elements of the certification process – such as the data collection and reporting, accountability through frequent check-ins, ongoing collaboration among participants through monthly knowledge sharing forums, and the transparency of publicly certifying – are key to its success. The outcomes are measured annually and the requirements evolve every year to drive further progress. And to ensure Mansfield’s long-term results, there is a “Certification Plus Metrics” category that measures participants’ outcomes.
Initial outcomes – as noted in this Bloomberg article and American Lawyer article – show Mansfield is achieving its intended purpose to diversify leadership. As demonstrated by the law firm and legal department leaders’ own words, they are witnessing meaningful results. As this recent analysis shows, Mansfield firms are increasing the inclusivity and transparency of their leadership processes. As a result, the early adopter firms are progressing at a faster rate than they were pre-Mansfield and outpacing non-Mansfield firms on diversifying leadership.
Evolution & Participating Organizations
Inspired by a winning idea at the Women in Law Hackathon, Mansfield aims to boost inclusivity and diversity in leadership by broadening the pool of talent through consideration – not quotas – for leadership roles. A brief overview of its evolution follows.
- 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 in the pool of qualified talent for leadership roles.
- Versions 2.0 through 5.0 for large firms were intentionally broadened each year to include LGBTQ+ lawyers and lawyers with disabilities as well as critical advancement opportunities (e.g., client pitch teams), transparent leadership role descriptions, and more.
- New pilots were recently launched for midsize firms, legal departments, and UK firms.
- The current certification process tracks and measures whether law firms and legal departments are considering a broad pool of talent – including historically underrepresented groups such as women lawyers, underrepresented racial and ethnic lawyers, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities – for leadership roles and career advancement opportunities. In addition, legal departments are asked to consider a broad pool of talent for outside counsel roles.
As of 2023, there are 360+ U.S., Canadian, and UK law firms and 75+ legal departments participating in the certification process. The list of recently certified and current participants follow.
2022-2023 Certified Law Firms
240+ midsize and large law firms – listed here – were recently announced as Mansfield Certified for 2022-2023 in the U.S. and Canada. These firms join the 2021-2023 cohort of 70+ midsize firms in the U.S. that were certified in March 2023.
Also announced recently, the second cohort of 15+ UK Mansfield Certified firms are listed here.
In total, more than 325 law firms achieved Mansfield Certification in 2023. This significant milestone reflects these firms’ continued dedication to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity in leadership.
2023-2024 Participating Law Firms
The 360+ large and midsize firms from the UK, U.S., and Canada that are participating in the current cohort, which runs from July 2023 to June 2024, can be found here.
2023 Certified Legal Departments (Just Announced!)
The 60+ legal departments announced as Mansfield Certified can be found here. Join us in congratulating them!
Organizations interested in registering for the upcoming certification processes can click here.
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
Knowledge Sharing Forums
Mansfield organizations are invited to attend monthly virtual knowledge sharing meetings and special forums throughout the year. The following in-person forum, hosted in October 2022, is an example.
If you are interested in joining Mansfield, please contact Courtney Munnings (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more about our law firm efforts or Sajani Granquist (email@example.com) to learn more about our legal department efforts.