This story begins in a small town in Iowa shortly after the Civil War. It was there that a pioneering young woman named Arabella Mansfield challenged a law limiting the practice to white men by taking and passing the state bar exam in 1869. Within the year the Iowa legislature amended its statute to allow both women and minorities to practice law in the state.
At the age of 23 Mansfield had forged her way to become the first female lawyer in the United States. She spent the rest of her life and career actively campaigning for the women’s suffrage movement. Today her impressive legacy has lent itself to the creation of a new rule aimed at boosting the representation of diverse lawyers in law firm leadership.
We are honored to share in this legacy by partnering with Diversity Lab as one of 20 firms to participate in this year’s launch of the inaugural Mansfield Rule for MidSize Law Firms. The overall goal of the Midsize Mansfield Rule is to increase the representation of diverse lawyers in leadership by broadening the pool of women, LGBTQ+ lawyers, lawyers with disabilities, and/or racial/ethnic minority lawyers who are considered for entry-level and lateral attorney job openings, leadership opportunities, equity partner promotions, and opportunities to connect with clients.
Participating in the Mansfield Rule initiative is a commitment by SHG that we will continue to consider an intentionally broad pool of candidates for leadership and high visibility positions within the Firm. This includes when we are selecting leaders for positions within the Firm, hiring entry-level and lateral employees. The Midsize Mansfield Rule initiative also includes a commitment by the Firm to be transparent in our internal governance, particularly with our selection guidelines and job descriptions for existing management roles and committees.
We believe that taking this inclusive approach on who we consider for current and future positions at the firm will ensure that we are inviting and considering the broadest field of talent possible.