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Insight Center: Publications

Diversity Rules: A Closer Look at Mansfield Certification

Authors: Kassem L. Lucas and Margaret A. Suender

December 2019 / January 2020
Diversity Rules: A Closer Look at Mansfield Certification

This article was published in the December 2019 / January 2020 issue of The Legal 500's five hundred. It is republished here with permission.

At Pepper Hamilton, we know our efforts to be as diverse and inclusive as we can make us a stronger firm and help us to provide superior service to our clients. But, like all law firms, we have sometimes found it challenging to translate our dedication to diversity and inclusion into measurable change. That is why we signed on to Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Rule 2.0 pilot programme. The Rule — which asks law firms to affirmatively consider diverse attorneys for promotions, senior-level hiring, and significant leadership roles and activities — gave us the goals, targets, and structure to improve our processes and build our pipeline of diverse talent.

Achieving Mansfield Certification required a year-long firmwide commitment. Our D&I and talent leads drove the Mansfield initiative with the strong backing of executive leadership. Individual administrators and attorneys from our D&I, marketing, recruiting, and employment law departments played crucial roles in developing new systems, building awareness, and tracking progress. Our partners made everyday practice decisions that pushed us forward.

Monthly knowledge-sharing calls with other Mansfield participants contributed greatly to our success in the programme. The calls – which were surprisingly collaborative – asked participants to openly share their innovative ideas for overcoming our common challenges. As with any new initiative, there were a few hurdles to overcome. While our attorneys immediately supported our participation in Mansfield Rule 2.0, the programme required all members of the firm to shift their perspectives and break out of comfortable habits.

We worked hard to provide tools and reminders that helped our attorneys think intentionally every day about being more inclusive, whether in deciding which candidates to interview or choosing a team for a pitch. One example was embedding our Mansfield objectives in our annual practice group and partner planning process. Another was developing a new system for tracking how our pitch activity aligned with the Mansfield criteria. Our IT and marketing teams built a new app that tracks all requests for pitch materials and prompts attorneys to certify that they considered Mansfield attorneys for their pitch teams. We also track the extent to which our final pitch teams meet Mansfield criteria. If the lead attorney does not certify that they considered Mansfield attorneys for the pitch team, or the team pitched doesn’t meet Mansfield benchmarks, we follow up to understand the challenges and explore possible solutions.

The framework provided by the Mansfield Rule helped us make measurable progress. We were required to hit a 30% threshold for 70% of the categories outlined by Mansfield, and we did that. Diverse hiring and representation on committees and in other leadership roles increased in almost every category we were asked to measure.

Our successes with the Mansfield Rule 2.0 have also moved the needle in ways we cannot easily measure, such as building greater awareness among all firm attorneys, facilitating recognition of implicit biases, and strengthening employee morale. Perhaps the best gauge of our success in these immeasurable areas was the clarion call to join the Mansfield Rule 3.0 programme – a challenge that was enthusiastically supported at every level of the firm.

The material in this publication was created as of the date set forth above and is based on laws, court decisions, administrative rulings and congressional materials that existed at that time, and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. The information in this publication is not intended to create, and the transmission and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship.

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