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Mansfield Rule “Early Adopters” Show Significant Diversity Growth — and Outpace Legal Industry — in Critical Leadership Roles

SAN FRANCISCO (April 19, 2021) — Law firms piloting the Mansfield Rule since its inception have grown the racial and ethnic diversity of their top leadership, including diversifying their Management Committees by more than 30 times the rate of non-Mansfield firms.
The inaugural Mansfield Rule certification process, launched by Diversity Lab in summer 2017, required firms to measure and confirm that they considered candidate pools that are at least 30% diverse — including women and underrepresented racial and ethnic lawyers as a starting point — when hiring senior associates and partners, promoting into the equity partnership and selecting leaders for management roles.
An analysis of the MCCA data of “early adopter” firms that have completed the first two Mansfield Rule certification cycles — from 2017 to 2018 and 2018 to 2019 — highlights that these firms are succeeding at the Rule’s intended purpose of increasing diversity in top leadership and are significantly outpacing similarly sized non-Mansfield Rule firms in doing so.
  • For underrepresented racial and ethnic lawyers, Mansfield 1.0 firms have diversified their Management Committees at more than 30 times the rate of non-Mansfield firms during the 2017-2019 timeframe. Non-Mansfield firms, on average, only saw an overall increase in Management Committee racial diversity of a tenth of one percent (.13%) over the same timeframe.
  • The racial and ethnic diversity of non-Mansfield firms’ Partner Nomination Committees has declined since 2017, while Mansfield 1.0 firms have increased, achieving an overall increase of nearly 4% during the 2017-2019 timeframe. And, importantly, statistical modeling predicts this number will continue to climb for Mansfield firms.
  • Racially diverse lawyers at early adopter Mansfield firms are progressing into the partnership at a statistically higher percentage than they were pre-Mansfield. 1.0 firms have also leaped ahead of non-Mansfield firms during the 2017-2019 timeframe; they reached 10.5% racially diverse partners in 2019, while non-Mansfield firms were at 9.1%. This variance is meaningful since all large law firms, on average, only increased by .2% each year with regard to racial diversity in their partnerships based on broader data from 2007-2019.
  • Women lawyers at early adopter Mansfield firms are progressing into leadership — as part of Management Committees, Partner Review Committees, and the partnership as a whole — at a statistically higher percentage than they were pre-Mansfield. And, as a clear positive trend for the legal profession, broader data from 2007 to 2019 shows that both Mansfield and non-Mansfield firms are making upward, steady progress with regard to women in leadership.
Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Rule has grown from 41 participating firms in 2017 to over 120 firms, and its focus on inclusive representation in law firm leadership has expanded to include LGBTQ+ lawyers and lawyers with disabilities. There are also new versions crafted specifically for and piloted by more than 20 midsize firms and 50 corporate legal departments. A version for UK law firms launches this spring.
Additional details about these efforts and individual results from many participating firms can be found here.
The Mansfield Rule firms’ success highlights the advantage of a long-term commitment to these principles combined with the accountability of the certification process. The culture of collective knowledge sharing embedded in the Mansfield Rule has also supported these firms in establishing and maintaining new foundational talent practices. These practices and the discipline associated with the 30 percent consideration metric have produced and will sustain these firms’ continued progress.
“These firms have operationalized the Mansfield Rule’s principles so that their achievements are part of a movement rather than a moment. As a result, these gains are not vulnerable to the shifting winds of the marketplace,” said Lisa Kirby, Diversity Lab’s Chief Business Intelligence and Knowledge Sharing Officer.
Law firms and legal departments interested in registering for the next certification cycle in the U.S., Canada or the UK can do so by visiting the Mansfield Rule Registration page, linked here.
About Diversity Lab
Diversity Lab is an incubator for innovative ideas and solutions that boost diversity and inclusion in law. Experimental ideas are created through our Hackathons and piloted in collaboration with more than 150 top law firms and legal departments across the country. Diversity Lab leverages data, behavioral science, design thinking and technology to further develop and test new ideas and research, measure the results and share the lessons learned. For more information, visit www.diversitylab.com.

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Contact Information:

Lisa Kirby, [email protected]

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