José Olivieri says he jokes with friends that he is about the most conservative guy around.
“I’ve been married to the same woman for 36 years,” he said, “worked at the same job for 33 years and lived in the same house for 25 years.”
Olivieri, who is chairman of Michael Best & Friedrich’s labor and employment relations practice group and who started the firm’s business-focused immigration and internal migration practice, arrived in Wisconsin from Puerto Rico in the mid-1970s to attend what is now Carroll University. At Carroll, he met his wife and received his bachelor’s in political science before attending Marquette University Law School.
“At the time, there were very few Hispanic lawyers,” Olivieri said. “I was the second chair of the (Wisconsin) Hispanic Lawyers Association. I have seen the development of Hispanic lawyers in Wisconsin.”
For the past 15 years, Olivieri has been chairman of the United Community Center, a social service agency for Milwaukee’s Hispanic community. The UCC has grown during Olivieri’s tenure to a $20 million organization with 300 employees, a large school, elderly-housing units and many other services.
“He is one of the most prominent leaders in the Hispanic community in Wisconsin today,” said Ricardo Diaz, director of the UCC.
Diaz said Olivieri is a role model for young people, especially those with an interest in going to law school, and he always is willing to provide help and advice.
“He has opened many doors for a lot of people,” Diaz said.
Higher education is a priority for Olivieri, who leads his firm’s higher-education practice group. He has been general counsel for various colleges and universities, focusing on matters ranging from student discipline to personal-intelligence laws related to technology.
Olivieri has served on the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, the Carroll University and Mount Mary University boards and as principal outside counsel for Milwaukee Area Technical College. He has twice been on the committee for University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee chancellor searches and has taught advanced employment law at Marquette.
Olivieri, who is vice chairman of Carroll’s board of trustees, said he hopes to be the board’s next chairman.
“It would be very satisfying,” he said, “because Carroll has been such a big part of my Wisconsin experience, and to get to be chairman of the board would be something.”
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