There’s a time-tested saying in business: “What gets measured gets done.” With that in mind, Womble Bond Dickinson is proud to announce the firm will participate in the Mansfield Rule 2.0 pilot project, aimed at promoting greater inclusion for women, minority and LGBTQ+ attorneys in the profession.

The Mansfield Rule is an industry-wide initiative that came out of the 2016 Women in Law Hackathon hosted by Diversity Lab in collaboration with Bloomberg Law and Stanford Law School. The goal of the program is to ensure that women, minority and LGBTQ+ lawyers make up at least 30 percent of the candidate pool when firms make the following personnel decisions:

  • Equity partner promotions
  • Lateral partner and mid/senior level associate searches
  • Practice group and office head leadership
  • Executive Committee and/or Board of Directors
  • Partner Promotions/Nominations Committee
  • Compensation Committee
  • Chairperson and/or Managing Partner.

In addition, this year, the second of the Mansfield Rule pilot project, participating firms will strive for the same level of women, minority and LGBTQ+ participation in formal client pitches. The goals of the Mansfield Rule are threefold:

1. To encourage better documentation and tracking of inclusion efforts;

2. To diversify the pipeline for those considered for leadership positions; and

3. To increase transparency in order to encourage broader participation.

Womble Bond Dickinson (US) Chair and CEO Betty Temple said, “We believe that taking this inclusive approach on who we consider for current and future leadership positions at the firm will ensure that we are inviting and considering the broadest field of talent possible as we look to the next generation of firm leaders.”

A seven-member task force, consisting of firm attorneys and staff members, will implement the Mansfield Rule at Womble Bond Dickinson. Beth Tyner Jones, Raleigh and Research Triangle Park Offices Managing Partner, is leading this committee.

“We at Womble Bond Dickinson value diversity and inclusion, and we know they must be priorities,” Jones said. “The Mansfield Rule 2.0 pilot project is an important first step toward closing many of the gaps that exist in our profession.”

Cindy Pruitt, the firm’s Director of Compensation and a member of the Mansfield Rule Task Force, said diversity and inclusion are increasingly important to firm clients. “As we talk to our clients, it’s abundantly clear that law firms aren’t as diverse as our clients are. We have to meet our clients where they are,” she said.

Committee member Alison Bost, the firm’s Deputy General Counsel, said “Respect for the individual is a core value at Womble Bond Dickinson, and diversity and inclusion efforts are an important component of that. And devotion to clients requires that we serve them with inclusive teams as research repeatedly validates that diverse teams achieve better outcomes for clients. We are so proud to be taking part in the Mansfield Rule 2.0 pilot project.”

“For Mansfield Rule firms, everything has to be visible and transparent,” said Womble Bond Dickinson Compensation Manager Heather Barber, a committee member.

The Mansfield Rule aims to address a vexing, industry-wide problem in the legal profession: a lack of diversity in the partner and leadership ranks. While the number of men and women first-year attorneys is approximately equal, less than 20 percent of equity partners are women, according to an ABA report . Representation of other minority lawyers is even lower.

The Mansfield Rule was inspired by the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching vacancies. In the 15 years since the Rooney Rule was implemented, the number of diverse head coaches in the league has doubled. The Mansfield Rule is named for Arabella Mansfield, who became the first woman attorney in the U.S. in 1869.

Womble Bond Dickinson is one of 44 law firms taking part in the second round of the Mansfield Rule. More than 50 major corporate legal departments also have committed to participate.