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AUTHOR PROFILE Laura Malinasky
Laura Malinasky is the head of both the legal and people teams at Planet.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Planet’s Legal Department

Stories

My desire to increase diversity, equity and inclusion at Planet is personal. I have spent my career primarily in the legal field. I’ve worked at both law firms and tech companies; and have been in Board rooms throughout that time. I have often found myself the only person of color or the only woman in the room. While diversity in leadership in the legal profession has improved since I graduated from law school, there remains much work to be done. The most recent data shows that of partners at US law firms, fewer than 25% are women, fewer than 10% are people of color, and fewer than 4% are women of color.

What are we doing to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession?

This year, I decided to look at the impact Planet’s Legal Department could have on diversity, equity and inclusion both internally and externally. As a first step, we assessed both ourselves and our vendors for diversity, looking at the population of lawyers from historically underrepresented groups, including women, LGBTQ+, lawyers with disabilities, and racial/ethnic minority lawyers. Here are the numbers:

  • 67% of Planet’s Legal Department are women
  • 83% are from historically underrepresented groups
  • 73% of the law firms we use have an attorney from an underrepresented group as either the lead or second chair on our legal matters

While encouraged by our current progress, we wanted to ensure that our processes for hiring, promotions, and engaging law firms are designed to consider qualified candidates from a diverse pool. Providing opportunities for attorneys from underrepresented groups at Planet and the law firms we work with increases diversity throughout the profession. As part of that commitment, we are using the Mansfield Rule for internal hiring and promotions, as well as when selecting outside law firms.

What is the Mansfield Rule?

The Mansfield Rule is named for Arabella Mansfield, the first woman to be admitted to practice law in the U.S. By committing to applying the Mansfield Rule, we will:

  • Ensure that at least 50% of considered candidates are from underrepresented groups when we are making hiring and promotion decisions
  • Ensure that at least 50% of our outside counsel that we consider for new matters are from underrepresented groups

How is it going so far?

Great! Being intentional about building a diverse pipeline of candidates for our open roles gave us an incredibly strong pool. Applying what we learned from Planet’s hiring bias mitigation training, we focused on the skills critical for the role and as a result, had candidates with a wide range of experience and backgrounds with the expertise we need. In terms of diversity, 78% of the candidates we considered for our recent position were from historically underrepresented groups. All of our candidates were incredibly strong, capable attorneys. Holding ourselves to the Mansfield Rule standards helped us focus our search on the objective skills that matter.

We have also engaged counsel on new matters and each time, our pool has included a majority of attorneys from underrepresented groups. While building diversity within Planet is important, by looking at the diversity of our vendors, we can extend our influence to the law firms we work with and help boost the careers of attorneys from underrepresented groups. 

As we reflect on our personal experiences and picture the future we want, we will continue to examine the processes that got us where we are today and make adjustments to have a positive impact on diversity, equity and inclusion.

 

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