For Immediate Release
May 5, 2022
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A law firm based in Birmingham is among the first legal practices in the United States to achieve Mansfield Certification under a pilot program designed to increase diversity in the workforce and leadership structure of mid-sized law firms.
After 18 months of extensive preparation and effort, Starnes Davis Florie LLP became Mansfield certified by Diversity Lab, the program’s parent organization.
The goal of the program—named for Arabella Mansfield, the nation’s first female attorney—is to significantly boost diversity by broadening the pool of women, racial/ethnic minority, disabled, and LGBTQ+ lawyers at all levels: entry-level, lateral attorney hires, leadership positions, and equity partner promotions, as well as opportunities to connect with clients. Candidate firms undergo a rigorous process of rethinking their approach to hiring, promotion, and leadership practices.
Starnes Davis Florie Managing Partner Jay Ezelle explains: “It has long been our goal as a firm to strive for diversity in our partner, associate, and staff ranks but the Mansfield process has made us question all of our assumptions and reconsider our practices with the goal of achieving at least 30% diversity across the firm,” Mr. Ezelle said. “We appreciated the quantifiable approach used in this certification process to help our firm find ways to improve not just our recruitment efforts, but also how we mentor our younger lawyers and provide opportunities for them to engage in client development and firm leadership.”
“We are pleased and honored to be the first firm in our market to achieve this meaningful certification and we remain thoroughly committed to continuing to broaden our efforts and recalibrate our measures of success in this critically important area,” Mr. Ezelle said.
Starnes Davis Florie LLP has long been known for its strength in litigation. The firm has the distinction of having verifiably tried and won more complex cases than any other in the state in the past decade or more. It has leveraged this trial experience to provide a unique approach to the prevention of litigation through compliance training and investigations as well as favorable resolution of disputes when clients want to avoid a trial.
Diversity Lab is an incubator for innovative ideas and solutions that boost diversity and inclusion in law. Experimental ideas are created through a process called Hackathons and piloted in collaboration with more than 150 top law firms and legal departments across the country. The Lab leverages data, behavioral science, design thinking, and technology to further develop and test the ideas, measure the results, and share the lessons learned. After creating the Mansfield Certification, Diversity Lab has continued to revise and improve it in subsequent iterations.