DLA Piper to pilot Mansfield Rule to boost diversity in leadership ranks

DLA Piper, along with 29 other law firms, announced today that it will partner with Diversity Lab to pilot the Mansfield Rule, an initiative through which participating firms will consider at least 30 percent women and attorneys of color for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions and lateral positions.

Named after Arabella Mansfield, the first woman admitted to practice law in the United States, the Mansfield Rule was one of the winning ideas from the 2016 Women in Law Hackathon competition hosted by Diversity Lab, in collaboration with Bloomberg Law and Stanford Law School. Elisha King, the firm's deputy general counsel, participated in the competition on behalf of DLA Piper.

"Our adoption of the Mansfield Rule ensures that we're following through on our commitment to diversity and thinking broadly whenever new leadership positions come available at all levels across the firm," said Roger Meltzer, DLA Piper global co-chairman and co-chairman of the Americas. "We're glad to pilot this initiative, which will benefit not only our firm but the legal industry as a whole."

The Mansfield Rule was inspired by the NFL's highly successful Rooney Rule, named for former Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, which requires every NFL team to interview at least one minority candidate for head coach vacancies.

"The Rooney Rule required a simple introduction – I have someone you should meet, spend some time with, and I think you will be impressed. That changed the face of the NFL," said Raymond Williams, who played for the Steelers under Dan Rooney during the 1987 season and now serves as DLA Piper's national Diversity and Inclusion partner and co-chair of the Products Liability and Mass Torts practice. "The Mansfield Rule has the potential to do the same for the legal industry."

Law firms that successfully pilot the Mansfield Rule over the next year will be designated Mansfield Certified and have the opportunity to send their recently promoted diverse partners to a two-day client forum next year to build relationships with and learn from influential in-house counsel. So far, more than 45 legal departments have signed on to support the initiative, spanning industries such as technology, retail, healthcare and media, among others.