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Varnum Achieves Mansfield Rule 5.0 Certification

October 19, 2022

Varnum is pleased to announce that the firm has achieved Mansfield Rule Certification 5.0, following an extensive, year-long process.

The Mansfield Rule is a program for law firms designed to boost the representation of historically underrepresented lawyers in firm leadership. The program measures whether women, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ lawyers and lawyers with disabilities have been considered for leadership opportunities, promotions, lateral positions and career-enhancing work opportunities.

“We’re very pleased to be among the 160 law firms across the country who achieved certification this year,” said Varnum Chair Ron DeWaard. “We understand the value of the program and we will continue to participate in the coming year.”

DeWaard noted that the process was intensive and worthwhile.

“This isn’t a ‘check the box’ exercise; it’s an ongoing process throughout the year with the intended result of broadening awareness of everything from how we staff matters to who we promote for leadership and recognition,” DeWaard said.

To achieve Mansfield Rule Certification, law firms are required to demonstrate year-long progress in increasing diversity in senior recruitment and leadership decisions and consider a minimum of 30% diverse candidates for these roles. Based on the premise that “you get what you measure,” the process includes establishing and tracking certain data points in more than a dozen areas which are evaluated and discussed at regular intervals throughout the year.

The Mansfield Certification program is administered by Diversity Lab, an incubator for innovative ideas and solutions that boost diversity and inclusion in law. The inaugural version of the Mansfield Rule began in 2017 with fewer than 50 law firms. Participation has increased in subsequent years and the program continues to evolve in order to better meet its goal of boosting and sustaining diversity in leadership and the pipeline to leadership.

Varnum Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Chair Luis Avila said he is excited about the firm’s continued participation in the program.

“Because of the certification requirements, firms that take part in the program are making notable gains across aspects of firm culture and leadership,” Avila said. “I’m pleased with our certification this year and proud that the firm is continuing its commitment to this measurement of our diversity efforts.”

The Mansfield Rule is named after Arabella Mansfield, the first female lawyer in the US, and was inspired by the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires every NFL team to interview at least one minority candidate for head coach vacancies. Mansfield Rule raised the bar on expectations, having learned from the Rooney Rule outcomes, by requiring law firms to consider diverse lawyers for all leadership roles, lateral hiring, promotions to partner, participation in client pitch meetings and other tracked data points.

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