Merchant & Gould Receives Mansfield Rule Plus Certification

Firm recognized for diversifying its leadership and recruiting efforts
May 18, 2022

Merchant & Gould has again achieved Mansfield Rule Certification, this time also attaining the more stringent “Plus” certification. The certification recognizes Merchant & Gould’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion through its hiring, promotion, and leadership decisions.

Merchant & Gould was one of 26 law firms that participated in a cohort created for midsize law firms. Designed to expand on the early successes of the original Mansfield Rule, the Midsize Mansfield Rule Certification measures whether law firms with between 25 and 150 lawyers have affirmatively considered at least 30 percent women lawyers, underrepresented racial and ethnic lawyers, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities for attorney positions, leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, and formal client pitch opportunities. While working to achieve these benchmarks, Merchant & Gould created internal transparency through the establishment of leadership role descriptions and clear leadership appointment and/or election processes. The firm also shared best practices and lessons learned with other cohort firms throughout the certification process. Community-building is an integral part of the Mansfield Rule Certification requirements.

“We are proud to be a Certified Plus firm in the inaugural year of the Midsize Mansfield Rule and to be part of a community of law firms sharing the goal of fostering inclusive, equitable work environments. These actions reflect our culture and core values,” said John Winemiller, Chief Diversity Officer and managing partner of Merchant & Gould’s Knoxville office. “One of our firm’s greatest strengths is its ability to harness the diverse backgrounds, identities, and perspectives of our team members to provide the best service for our clients.  We will use the data from the Mansfield Certification process to continually inform policies and outcomes that benefit our clients, our firm, and our community.”

Of the 2020-2022 certified firms, 16 Midsize Mansfield firms have achieved Certification “Plus” status, which indicates that, in addition to meeting or exceeding the consideration requirements, the firms have successfully achieved 30 percent diverse representation in current leadership roles, formal client pitches, and staffing on key matters.

Merchant & Gould participated in two previous iterations of the Mansfield Rule, achieving the Mansfield 2.0 Certification in 2019 and the 3.0 Version in 2020. The Midsize Mansfield Rule Certification is something new in the midsize sector, marking a third certification for the firm. Merchant & Gould continues its work to advance diversity throughout the legal industry.

"We are incredibly proud of – and grateful to – the firms that stepped up to try something new and partner with us to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces in the midsize sector,” said Kate Johnston Ryan, Chief Administrative Officer at Diversity Lab. “Despite launching the Midsize iteration of the Mansfield Rule in the midst of a global pandemic, and in many cases with substantially limited resources, these firms were not deterred from taking on challenging systems changes to increase diversity in the profession."

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