Several firms earn Mansfield Certification

By Thomas Franz
BridgeTower Media Newswires

DETROIT-Five law firms with offices in Michigan have achieved Mansfield Certification after completing the Mansfield Rule 2.0 12-month program.

The designation measures if law firms have considered - at least 30 percent of the candidate pool - women, lawyers of color, and LGBTQ+ lawyers for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions.

The five firms in Michigan that earned the certification are Foley & Mansfield; Miller Canfield; Brinks, Gilson, & Lione; Jackson Lewis; and Pepper Hamilton LLP.

"From a management standpoint, one thing we try hard to do is make sure our leadership opportunities are being offered on the broadest possible basis," said Miller Canfield CEO Michael P. McGee.

In total, 64 firms earned the designation, up from 27 last year.

According to a press release from Diversity Lab, prior to participating in the Mansfield Rule, only 12 percent of firms were tracking their candidate pools for leadership roles and 25 percent were tracking their candidate pools for lateral partner hiring. Now, 100 percent of those firms are tracking candidate pools in those areas.

Other key statistics coming out of this year's initiative:

  - 94% of Mansfield Rule 2.0 firms said that after adopting the Mansfield Rule, their candidate pool for pitch teams was more diverse.
  - 65% of participating firms promoted a higher percentage of diverse lawyers into equity partnership.
  - 92% of participating firms reported a higher percentage of diverse attorneys participating in formal pitches.

At Miller Canfield, the Detroit-based firm reported that 49 percent of its associates are women, including 78 percent of the 2019 summer associate class.

The firm also reported that 55 percent of its 2019 summer associate class were minorities, and 40 percent of the firm's resident directors are minorities and women.

"The main thing is to continually remind ourselves, all of the lawyers and staff, that we want to always be thinking in inclusive terms," McGee said.

This past year, McGee said Miller Canfield created a scorecard for how different departments within the firm were performing with diversity efforts.

"That creates both a certain degree of accountability and a little bit of healthy competition," McGee said.

McGee said additional motivation for being involved in the Mansfield program has come from large companies whose general counsels have begun demanding that vendor law firms show they are making efforts to have diverse staffs.

"It's also true that in the last three months, larger institutional clients like Fortune 500 companies have become much more aggressive in demanding that their vendor law firms are persistent and real on becoming more inclusive and diverse, and not just saying so. There is some market impetus to this," McGee said.

McGee said pressure from outside companies is not surprising.

"We've heard that from clients for quite a while. We probably benefited because we have a heavy portfolio of governmental and public sector clients, so we've heard that for a decade or more. I think that's helped move us along, and we're proud to have taken a position of leadership in diversity and Mansfield specifically," McGee said.

At Brinks, Gilson, & Lione, which has an office in Ann Arbor, shareholder Betsy J. Derwinski said the firm has taken a holistic approach to diversity in its offices.

"We've made a real effort to make all of our employees feel included. I feel like a workplace is a more comfortable and enjoyable place to work if you feel like there are other people like you," Derwinski said.

In doing so, Derwinski said the firm's philosophy has a positive effect on their clients.

"We represent a very diverse group of clients. If we want our clients to feel valued, and they see people from many backgrounds, they're probably going to identify with us," Derwinski said. "It not only makes our staff feel comfortable, but it also shows our clients that we want people working at Brinks that represent them."

In addition to earning Mansfield Certification, Miller Canfield and Brinks, Gilson, & Lione earned "Mansfield Plus Certification" status, which indicates in addition to meeting or exceeding the pipeline consideration requirements, the firms have also reached at least 30 percent diverse lawyer representation in a notable number of their current leadership roles and committees.

Going forward, Diversity Lab announced that for Mansfield Rule 3.0, which is running until July 2020, 99 firms will participate and will include lawyers with disabilities as part of the candidate pool.

Miller Canfield has also volunteered to be one of five firms to pilot a more intensive tracking process that measures the consideration of individual demographic groups for each category.

Published: Wed, Dec 18, 2019