Mansfield Rule

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The Mansfield Rule is a program designed for Law Firms (“Mansfield Rule”) and Legal Departments (“Mansfield Rule for Legal Departments”) that measures whether women, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities have been considered for leadership opportunities, promotions, lateral positions, and career-enhancing work opportunities.[1]

The Mansfield Rule for Law Firms

The Mansfield Rule for law firms is a 12-month certification process that measures whether law firms have considered at least 30% women, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions. It was launched in 2017 and is currently in its fourth iteration (Mansfield Rule 2021).[2]

History and origin

The idea for the Mansfield Rule stems from the 2016 Women in Law Hackathon, created and organized by Diversity Lab, with the support of Stanford Law School and Bloomberg Law. It is named for the first woman lawyer admitted to the practice of law in the United States, Arabella Mansfield. The Mansfield Rule was originally inspired by the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior operation positions. Based on research regarding diverse candidate pools, it expands upon the Rooney Rule’s premise by requiring 30% underrepresented candidates, and adds several elements, including a focus on the leadership pipeline, transparency, knowledge sharing, and accountability through the Certification process. [3]

The purpose of the Mansfield Rule is to diversify law firm leadership by ensuring that historically underrepresented lawyers (women, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities) are being considered for significant governance roles, lateral openings, and promotions with law firms. Within the overarching goal of of diversifying leadership, the Mansfield Rule aims to: establish the practice of tracking and documenting diversity so that progress and areas for improvement can be seen and measured; broaden current leaders’ perspectives on what future leaders could look like; and add transparency to often opaque succession planning processes. It also seeks to offer a platform for firms to work together to progress as a community rather than attempting to make progress in isolation. [4]

In 2018, 41 law firms earned Mansfield Rule Certification; in 2019, 64 law firms earned Mansfield Certification; and, in 2020, 102 law firms participated in the certification process. One hundred and seventeen firms have signed on to Mansfield Rule 2021, which runs from July 2020 to July 2021.[5]

How it works

The Mansfield Rule Certification process is run by Diversity Lab. Law firms begin participating by establishing processes to analyze and document their talent pipelines.[6]

Over the course of 12 months, the participating law firms track the diversity of their candidate pools for leadership and governance roles, senior level lateral hiring, and client pitch activity, with the goal of considering at least 30% underrepresented lawyers. Firms also draft written job descriptions for the roles they are tracking and ensure that election and appointment guidelines and processes for these roles are transparent and available to all lawyers at the firm.[7]

To become Mansfield Rule Certified, firms must meet the 30% consideration threshold in at least 70% of the categories tracked. They must also participate in individual check-ins with Diversity Lab experts, submit a midpoint and year-end survey and data request, and engage in knowledge sharing with the Mansfield cohort.[8]

Mansfield Certification Plus is earned by firms that, in addition to meeting or exceeding the pipeline consideration requirements for Certification, have also successfully reached at least 30 percent diverse lawyer representation in a notable number of their current roles and committees.[9]

Firms that achieve Mansfield Certification and Mansfield Certification Plus can invite their newly promoted diverse partners to attend the Mansfield Rule Client Forums to meet and learn from influential in-house counsel from over 70 leading companies.[10]


The most recent results (Mansfield Rule 2.0, which ran from 2018 to 2019) reveal that participating law firms saw an increase in the diversity of their candidate pools for leadership roles, equity partner promotions, and lateral hiring, and are increasing the representation of diverse lawyers in senior lateral hiring, leadership positions, and participation in client pitches. Some key data points include:

  • 94% of Mansfield Rule 2.0 firms said that after adopting the Mansfield Rule, their candidate pool for pitch teams was more diverse.
  • 79% of participating firms reported that their lateral partner hiring pool was more diverse following adoption of the Mansfield Rule, and 76% said their equity partner promotions pool was more diverse.
  • 65% of participating firms promoted a higher percentage of diverse lawyers into equity partnership.
  • 57% of participating firms elected or appointed a higher percentage of diverse lawyers into Office Head positions.
  • 92% of participating firms reported a higher percentage of diverse attorneys participating in formal pitches.
  • 53% of participating firms reported a higher percentage of diverse attorneys elected or appointed to the Management/Executive Committee.
  • 78% of participating firms hired a higher percentage of diverse lateral senior associates.

In addition, many law firm participants reported that their internal discussions on succession planning and hiring were more deliberate and focused after adopting Mansfield Rule. Firms also reported gains in learning, developing best practices, and troubleshooting difficult challenges as benefits of participating in the required Mansfield knowledge-sharing forums.[11]

Mansfield Rule for Legal Departments

In 2019, the Mansfield Rule: Legal Department Edition was launched to increase the representation of diverse lawyers in leadership for legal department job openings, high visibility opportunities and promotions, and outside counsel representation. In order to become Mansfield Certified, legal departments must consider at least 50% historically underrepresented lawyers for 70% or more of the identified leadership roles and activities. More than 20 legal departments signed on to pilot the Mansfield Rule: Legal Department Edition, which launched July 1, 2019. The second iteration of the Legal Department Edition launched in July 2020 with 50 legal departments. The second iteration requires legal departments to track their candidate populations on a disaggregated basis so they can understand where they have gaps in their hiring and promotion activities.[12]

Midsize Mansfield Rule

The Midsize Mansfield Rule for law firms with 25-99 lawyers is currently in development and set to launch in September 2020.

Mansfield Rule - UK

The Mansfield Rule - UK is currently in development and set to launch in September 2020.

In the media



  1. Journal, A. B. A. "Law firms test 'Mansfield rule' to promote more women and minorities into leadership roles". ABA Journal. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  2. "How Lawyers Are Working to Change Their Industry's Diversity Problem". Fortune. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  3. June 22, Meghan Tribe |; AM, 2018 at 11:53. "Mansfield Rule 2.0 Aims to Boost Law Firms' Diversity Efforts". The American Lawyer. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  4. "Positive Results Mark End of Mansfield Rule Diversity Pilot". Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  5. April 04, Meghan Tribe |; AM, 2019 at 06:00. "New Take on 'Mansfield Rule' Sets In-House Diversity Goals". Corporate Counsel. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  6. Zaretsky, Staci. "Bringing Diversity To The In-House World: Get Ready For The 'Legal Department Edition' Of The Mansfield Rule". Above the Law. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  7. August 02, Meri J. Kahan |; PM, 2019 at 12:42. "The Mansfield Rule: Lessons for Every Legal Organization". The Legal Intelligencer. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  8. "More In-House Attys Embrace Mansfield Rule's Diversity Goals - Law360". Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  9. "Mansfield Rule Gets In-House Spin-Off". Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  10. May 29, Dan Clark |; PM, 2020 at 05:03. "How the Mansfield Rule for In-House Counsel Is Faring Under COVID-19". Corporate Counsel. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  11. "117 Firms On Board For Fourth Version Of Mansfield Rule - Law360". Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  12. July 02, Dan Packel |; Lawyer, 2020 at 05:00 AM | The original version of this story was published on The American. "117 Firms Seek Certification in Latest Round of 'Mansfield Rule' Diversity Initiative". Retrieved 2020-07-09.

External link

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