Diversity is a core value at Michael Best & Friedrich, a full-service law firm that employs more than 250 lawyers and other professionals. It established a Diversity and Inclusion Committee to take on a role in recruitment, retention and policy at all of its 13 offices. The committee carries out plans to create and maintain opportunities for minority, women, veteran, LGBTQ and disabled attorneys.
“As a professional services firm, the only real asset we have is our people,” said Jorge Leon, partner and Diversity and Inclusion Committee chair. “We must do our best to create an environment in which everyone feels respected and comfortable and in which everyone has an opportunity to achieve a fulfilling career.”
Michael Best builds relationships with diverse candidates. The firm provides financial support and pays for bar memberships dedicated to LGBTQ, Hispanic, Asian and African-American diversity. The group supports LGBTQ and ethnically diverse professionals through business development, networking and educational opportunities.
Denise Greathouse, partner and co-chair of the Engineers and Lawyers Advancing Diversity Committee, said the firm gave her an opportunity to join the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s 2019 class of Fellows. This connected her with business-development and leadership-training opportunities, along with invaluable networking opportunities.
“I want to be part of the mission to have a diverse culture and environment at Michael Best,” said Greathouse. “I wanted to be connected to that program to network with people across the U.S. It helps me bring back to Michael Best the good ideas and the things we should do to continue our mission.”
New diversity and inclusion initiatives are always in the works. The firm introduced a new transgender policy to provide support, protection, leave benefits and health coverage to transgender and transitioning employees. It also expanded its parental-leave benefits to give both men and women 16 weeks of paid leave.
Michael Best extends its commitment to diversity to the next generation of professionals with scholarship and internships for diverse high school and college students entering the legal and engineering fields.
Leon said Michael Best is committed to trying new diversity efforts and improving upon what’s already in place. The firm believes celebrating small achievements will build momentum toward continuing what has already been a rewarding and award-winning program.