Blank Rome Partners with Diversity Lab and Leading Law Firms to Pilot ‘Mansfield Rule’
June 7, 2017
Blank Rome is pleased to announce that it is one of 30 leading law firms to pilot Diversity Lab’s “Mansfield Rule,” which launched today. Named after Arabella Mansfield, the first woman admitted to the practice of law in the United States, the Mansfield Rule measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered women and attorneys of color — at least 30 percent of the candidate pool — for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, and lateral positions. The Mansfield Rule was one of the winning ideas from the 2016 Women in Law Hackathon hosted by Diversity Lab in collaboration with Bloomberg Law and Stanford Law School.
“We have partnered with Diversity Lab on their pioneering programs since 2014, and are thrilled to be among the pilot law firms to adopt the Mansfield Rule,” said Alan J. Hoffman, Blank Rome’s Chairman and Managing Partner. “For more than 70 years we have remained committed to our diversity and inclusion efforts at Blank Rome, and are proud of the great strides we have made in this regard. Having the opportunity to build upon the momentum we have established at Blank Rome and collaborate with our legal industry peers and Diversity Lab on this innovative initiative is truly exciting.”
With a similar goal in mind, Blank Rome created a vice practice group leader (“VPGL”) position in 2012 to train and mentor its next generation of leaders. The VPGL position provides a unique opportunity for younger and diverse leaders to be more involved in Firm management. Since adding this level, the Firm has benefitted from its leadership ranks expanding in size, and as a result, becoming more diverse. Over the past five years, a number of the VPGLs have been promoted to practice group leader positions, heading up their respective groups. As a result, more than 50% of practice groups now have a diverse practice group leader at the helm and women and minorities currently make up more than 40% of the Firm’s practice group leader team.
The Mansfield Rule was inspired by the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which was created by the late Dan Rooney in 2003 and is now supported by his son, Art Rooney II, President of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Rooney Rule requires every NFL team to interview at least one minority candidate for head coach vacancies. In the years following its implementation, the number of minorities hired to fill head-coach roles doubled.
“The Rooney Rule was revolutionary. We now benefit from standing on the shoulders of giants with the Mansfield Rule,” said Caren Ulrich Stacy, CEO of Diversity Lab. “Leveraging lessons learned from the NFL and recent research that shows it is important to interview more than one diverse candidate, we are incredibly well positioned to diversify the top ranks of the legal profession.”
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 in late 2018 to build relationships with and learn from influential in-house counsel. So far, more than 45 legal departments have signed on to support this effort by attending a Client Forum, including: 3M, Abercrombie & Fitch Co., American Express, Battery Ventures, Bloomberg L.P., Boston Children’s Hospital, Cargill, CBS Corporation, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., ClearSlide, Compass Minerals International, Inc., CSX, Facebook, First National Bank, Gap Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HP Inc., Mastercard, McKesson, Medtronic, Microsoft, PayPal, Plantronics, PNC Financial Services Group, RPX Corporation, Smiths Group, Target, TCF Bank, Toyota Material Handling USA, ThredUP, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated, Waddell & Reed, Walmart, Workday, Xcel Energy, and Zuora.
In December 2016, Blank Rome joined the Women in Law Hackathon Alliance, Phase II of Diversity Lab’s Women in Law Hackathon initiative that brings law firms from across the country together to increase gender parity in the top ranks of the legal profession. Blank Rome also participated and competed in the inaugural Women in Law Hackathon, a Shark Tank-style competition held in June 2016 that brought together 54 high-level partners from law firms across the country with industry experts and Stanford Law students to create innovative solutions aimed at advancing and retaining experienced women lawyers in law firms. The Firm’s team was led and represented by Daniel E. Rhynhart, Partner and Chair of Blank Rome’s Commercial Litigation group, and also included Blank Rome Associate Kathy E. Herman, who initially joined the Firm through its participation in Diversity Lab’s OnRamp Fellowship, the largest global re-entry platform promoting experienced women lawyers rejoining the legal profession after a hiatus. Of the 36 law firms participating in the Hackathon Alliance, Blank Rome is one of only eleven that has participated in the OnRamp Fellowship, and to date has welcomed two Fellows to the Firm.