The Mansfield Rule isn’t just for law firms anymore.
On Thursday the Diversity Lab, an incubator focused on diversity and inclusion issues in the legal industry, launched the newest iteration of its campaign to boost diversity in legal departments and outside counsel ranks.
“Mansfield Rule: Legal Department Edition” will require participating in-house legal teams to consider at least 50 percent women, minority lawyers, LGBTQ+ lawyers and lawyers with disabilities as applicants for key leadership roles. Legal departments that sign on are also asked to consider at least 50 percent diverse lawyers for outside counsel hires for new or expanded work.
The requirements are more demanding than the 30 percent requirement for law firms that the Diversity Lab set when it first launched the Mansfield Rule campaign in June 2017. The Diversity Lab and its CEO Caren Ulrich Stacy took inspiration from the National Football League’s so-called Rooney Rule, naming their own effort after Arabella Mansfield, the first female lawyer in the U.S.
“We’re really good at pointing the finger at our outside law firms and telling them they’re not doing enough on diversity and inclusion and holding their feet to the fire,” said Michael O’Connor, general counsel of MassMutual, which is one of the eight legal departments that have signed on so far to implement the new Mansfield Rule.
“This really gives in-house lawyers an opportunity to show that we’re actually walking the talk and we’re subjecting ourselves to the same or even higher standards than we are with our outside law firms,” O’Connor said. “That I think is both welcome and probably a bit overdue.”
Some of the areas where legal departments are asked to consider women and diverse attorneys include hiring, internal transitions and promotions of senior management, from general counsel to interns or temporary lawyer positions.
“We have had a very robust commitment to diversity and inclusion for a long time here, both in terms of how we hire people for positions here at the company as well as and how we retain outside counsel,” O’Connor said. “The Mansfield Rule proposal was very consistent with our general philosophy on the importance of diversity and inclusion.”
In addition to MassMutual, the initial signatories are BASF Corp., Compass Minerals, LendingClub, PayPal, Symantec Corp., thredUP, and U.S. Bank. Other in-house legal teams are invited to register starting Thursday.
When the Diversity Lab first launched the Mansfield Rule two years ago, it required at least 30 percent of participating law firms’ candidate pools for any leadership or governance role—equity partnership promotions and lateral positions—to be comprised of women or minorities.
Nearly 50 law firms signed on to the Mansfield Rule, and 65 firms signed on to an upgraded version dubbed Mansfield 2.0, which broadened the obligations for firms and expanded the initiative to include LGTBQ+ attorneys. In August, over 40 law firms became “Mansfield Certified“ after the pilot’s inaugural year.
The Mansfield Rule: Legal Department Edition’s certification process will begin July 1, 2019, and run through June 30, 2020.
Legal departments interested in signing up for the yearlong program can contact Diversity Lab’s senior innovative and training manager Leila Hock at email@example.com.