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Pearne & Gordon LLP: Our Long Commitment to Increasing Diversity in Our Patent Team

Deborah L. Corpus - Partner at Pearne & Gordon LLP, Co-chair, DEI committee


At Pearne, diversity has always been a priority. This is reflected in not only our our support and work with ADAPT and the ADAPT community, but also through our Diversity & Inclusion Committee and our continued work to improve diversity at the firm. We have tracked diversity statistics and our progress across our team for many years. The information we gathered, however, was limited in scope and informal. As a result, we did not know exactly where we stood, and how we could improve. To drive progress, we wanted to capture additional diversity information, but we had many questions and concerns. How can we capture more data? How do we ask? How would people respond? Ultimately, where do we start?


Enter Mansfield Rule™ by Diversity Lab, a program that one of our partners heard about, passed it on to another partner on our DEI committee (me) (https://www.diversitylab.com/pilot-projects/mansfield_midsize/). The goal of the Mansfield Rule is to boost and sustain diversity in leadership in law departments and law firms through three main pillars:


  1. Shifting cultures and mindsets through data tracking, advancement process transparency, and considering a broad slate of 30-50% underrepresented talent for all leadership roles and the activities that lead to leadership;

  2. Sharing knowledge to work together, learn together, and succeed together as a community; and

  3. Increasing the marketplace visibility and economic power of underrepresented talent through Mansfield Client Forums, Diverse Partners Directory, and more.


As part of the program, Diversity Lab works with participants to measure the outcomes and iterate the requirements to improve diversity over time. To ensure Mansfield’s long-term results, there is an increasingly challenging “Certification Plus” category that evaluates whether firms and legal departments have achieved diversity in leadership, not just considered it.


To satisfy the requirements for certification, the Mansfield Rule requires, for example: consider 30% historically underrepresented lawyer candidates for hiring, consider 30% historically underrepresented lawyer candidates for equity partner promotions, consider 30% historically underrepresented lawyer candidates for participation in formal client pitches and client meetings…


Participation in the certification process is open to both midsize and larger-sized law firms who share the desire and willingness to improve, learn and share with others about their experiences and processes relating to their firms’ DEI efforts.


We joined the March 2022 cohort for midsize firms for the certification period ending July 15, 2023 - along with dozens of other midsize firms (25-150 attorneys) around the country. To drive change, the structure of the program’s certification process includes accountability, through frequent check-ins/audits, data collection, and reporting; the participants’ ongoing collaboration through monthly group knowledge sharing forums; and the transparency of publicly certifying.


The certification process has taught us invaluable lessons we can leverage to continue to drive diversity at our firm and beyond. The process and information sharing has taught us effective methods for collecting attorney identification data in a confidential and objective manner, tracking participation for important client meetings, pitches for new or existing clients, and requests for proposals, and ensuring that we are providing all the information, tools, and guidance to attorneys as it relates to compensation and promotions in a transparent manner.


One of the most valuable aspects of the process has been the knowledge sharing among other firms who have been certified or who are involved in the process along with us. The conversations are open and honest, and there is a mutual interest for all participating firms to succeed. As mentioned above, certification requires firms to consider at least 30% historically underrepresented individuals for various attorney and non-attorney leadership roles, client-facing activities, promotion, and more. Through the Mansfield Rule certification process, we are improving diversity in our firm’s leadership and attorney teams not just by chance but with intention and accountability.


Our involvement with ADAPT is another extension of our DEI commitment and we are proud to work alongside so many others in this growing community. The Mansfield Certification is one of many programs that are highlighted as part of ADAPT’s platform, which provides a database of DEI programs and templates for corporate and law firm teams to jump start their DEI journey. If you are interested in joining, contact ADAPT today!

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 ADAPT Stories features stories and inspirations from the ADAPT community to celebrate the journey and to spotlight the on-the-ground work to advance diversity across patent teams.

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