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Early Data Shows Mansfield Rule May Help

In 2017, Diversity Lab instituted the “Mansfield Rule” to expand the racial and ethnic diversity of large law firms. Approximately 41 firms initially joined, committing to consider at least 30% women and people of color for senior associate positions and partnerships, leadership positions, and equity partner promotions. The creators created the 30% goal based on research showing that a critical mass is essential to disrupting biases in selection. It also gives rise to a measure of accountability for firms in expanding the diversity of their upper ranks. To receive Diversity Lab certification, firms agree to check-ins, data collection, and the public transparency of certification.

Data recently released on the first two Mansfield Rule certifications shows that growth in underrepresented racial and ethnic attorneys outpaced non-Mansfield Rule firms by more than 30 times between 2017 and 2019. Moreover, the racial diversity of partnerships is also improving at a faster rate in the Mansfield-certified firms than pre-implementation of the Mansfield Rule. Partners at Diversity Lab firms increased 10.5% compared to 9.1% at non-Lab firms. While these numbers demonstrate that there is still much to do, they also reflect a clear positive trend.

Women at these early-adopter firms are also benefiting as they progress at higher rates into partnership roles. Since its inception, the Diversity Lab has expanded to more than 120 large law firms with expanded goals to boost the numbers of LGBTQ and disabled attorneys in partnership positions at these law firms.