Michael Best is committed to enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our workplace. Our firm develops programs and policies to foster an inclusive environment, put our commitment to DEI into action, and make sure that each member of our team has the support and resources to achieve their Best.
With purposeful involvement from the highest levels of leadership across our firm, Michael Best’s DEI initiatives are guided by our DEI Committee and a full-time DEI Manager. They work hand-in-hand with our Diversity Action Committees and Employee Resource Groups to help keep us on mission.
We pledge to keep building on these programs, working to create environments where all people feel a sense of belonging and can thrive.
Employee Resource Groups
To foster community and encourage dialogue around DEI topics, Michael Best’s DEI Committee supports a network of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) under our Leaders, Engineers & Attorneys for Diversity effort. Our ERGs are employees who identify as part of an underrepresented or traditionally marginalized group and allies. Participation is to open to all interested attorneys and staff.
Our ERGs offer a space for employees to discuss DEI-related topics and provide opportunities for professional development, mentorship, networking, and community engagement. ERGs also work to advance the firm’s DEI goals and promote cultural awareness and education on inclusive best practices.
In 2007, a group of women partners launched our Women’s Initiative, which focuses on identifying and addressing issues of particular concern to women at Michael Best, and in the legal profession in general. Attorneys and professionals of all gender identities are encouraged to participate in and support our Women’s Initiative programs through our Women’s Development Group (WDG).
The Best Pride group supports the firm’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) employees through community building, allyship, education, and professional development opportunities. Members of Best Pride work to identify opportunities for cultural awareness and education on LGBTQ+ inclusive best practices.
The Minority Network supports members of our firm who identify as part of a historically underrepresented or marginalized race or ethnic group. Members of the Minority Network also convene under affinity networks centered on different racial and ethnic identities, including our Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin, and Middle Eastern/Northern African groups. Members of the Minority Network work to identify opportunities for advancement of the firm’s DEI goals.
Michael Best Parents & Caregivers
This group expands the community of support for employees who balance caregiving with professional demands. Members discuss topics and concerns of being working parents and caregivers, including lessons learned from the unique circumstances presented by COVID.
Patent Engineering Internship & Scholarship
Every year, our innovative internship program (EDGE) gives engineering and science students a chance to work alongside Michael Best’s intellectual property professionals, performing patent work. Our recruiting efforts for the EDGE program have included partnering with the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and oSTEM, to increase our program’s visibility and expose engineers to the patent engineering opportunities within a legal environment.
In 2022, we added a Diversity Scholarship as part of our EDGE program, which we promoted in cooperation with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) across the country.
We offer a supportive career path for our ESAs to work toward becoming future attorneys in the firm, and many of our ESAs have gone on to become partners.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Scholarship
Michael Best’s DEI Scholarship initiative provides financial scholarships for law students each year. Recipients are awarded a $10,000 scholarship for their third year of law school, after successfully completing the Michael Best summer associate program.
Public Policy & Scholars Internships
Michael Best Strategies (Strategies), a consulting affiliate of Michael Best, launched its Public Policy Internship in 2021. Created in partnership with HBCUs, the program offers an educational and supportive experience for students to gain exposure to public policy and government affairs work. Interns work directly with Strategies leadership, being assigned a mentor and a sponsor for the 10-week program, and also collaborate with clients.
Strategies also offers the Scholars Internship program, which supports paid internships in Business & Government and Public Affairs & Digital Media. This is an invaluable opportunity for students in government, political science, public policy, communications, business, and marketing.
We work to not only recruit new talent, but also help develop future generations of leaders. Michael Best is a member of organizations such as the Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms, the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI), and the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), which promote inclusiveness and diversity in the legal profession.
Since joining the LCLD in 2018, we have steadily increased our participation, including in leadership development programs such as LCLD Fellows Program and the Pathfinder Program. Michael Best also partners with organizations such as the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), and the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce to provide leadership development support.
Inclusive HR Policies
Michael Best’s progressive HR policies, such as generous paid parental leave, alternative work schedules, remote work, and domestic partner benefits, appeal to lawyers and professional staff seeking an inclusive workplace. Our “career lattice” approach to professional development gives attorneys flexibility in considering partnership or another track at different points in their lives.
Our internal policies and benefits continue to evolve. Recent additions include a policy designed to foster a supportive, productive environment for transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals; options for personal pronoun self-identification in email signatures; and fertility and family-forming benefits.
We recognize that by donating our time, skill, and experience, we can help strengthen our communities and bring about meaningful change for people facing extreme challenges. Every year, Michael Best coordinates a firmwide volunteer day called Best Efforts. This provides an engaging, meaningful way for everyone in our firm to give back to our communities as part of a team
Michael Best attorneys provide pro bono services to many charitable, arts, and civic organizations that positively impact people’s lives every day. We also support the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA), the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge Initiative, and provide pro bono services through court systems, state bar associations, and legal aid organizations.
Corporate Equality Index 2022
|Michael Best earned a perfect score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBTQ employees.
Corporate Partner of the Year 2022
The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce named Michael Best the 2022 Corporate Partner of the Year. The award is given to an organization that is a corporate member of the LGBT Chamber and has shown a strong commitment to diversity in the workplace and to positively growing the LGBTQ and allied business community.
Tipping the Scales 2022
The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance named Michael Best as a recipient 2022 Tipping the Scales recognition, an award given to firms with 50% or more women in their new partner class.
Best Law Firms for Women 2020
|Working Mother magazine named Michael Best among the 2020 Best Law Firms for Women. The annual list recognizes law firms’ efforts and successes in finding, retaining, promoting, and developing women lawyers.
Notable Business Championing Diversity 2020
Michael Best was recognized as a Notable Business Championing Diversity & Inclusion, and one of our partners was named a Notable LGBTQ Executive, by Crain’s Chicago Business.
Equality Illinois: Raising the Bar 2017
|Michael Best was recognized among law firms leading the way in providing a welcoming and fair work environment for LGBTQ employees and engaging with the LGBTQ community.
A Top Firm for Diversity in Business 2019
|The Wisconsin Law Journal honored Michael Best as a Top Firm for Diversity in Business, for demonstrating significant contributions toward creating a diverse and inclusive business.
Top Latino Lawyers 2019
Four Michael Best attorneys were honored as Top Latino Lawyers by Latino Leaders magazine, recognizing the most influential Latino lawyers in the country for making a significant impact on the legal profession and their communities.
Notable Minorities in Accounting, Consulting & Law 2019
The chair of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee has been recognized multiple times by Crain’s Chicago Business as a Notable Minority Lawyer who has made a significant impact within the legal community and the community as a whole.
Utah Center for Legal Inclusion
|Michael Best is a certified member of the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI), which provides Utah’s legal employers, businesses, and other organizations with the tools necessary to tackle the existing and future hiring, retention, advancement and inclusion challenges for women and other diverse attorneys. Through these programs and initiatives, UCLI works to advance diverse representation and bring about an equitable and inclusive future for Utah’s legal institutions and justice system. Click here for more info.
Leadership Council on Legal Diversity
|Michael Best is a proud member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), which promotes inclusiveness in institutions, circles of influence, and society, with the ultimate goal of building a more open and diverse legal profession. Click here for more info.
The Chicago Committee
|Michael Best is a member of The Chicago Committee, which promotes racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession, drives sustainable institutional change, and cultivates the community of minority leaders. Click here for press release.
Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce
|Michael Best is a founding member and ongoing sponsor of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The group is comprised of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and LGBT-allied businesses, corporations, and professionals throughout the state of Wisconsin. Click here for more info.
Diversity in Our Communities
In all we do at Michael Best, we strive to make a positive impact. Our commitment to diversity drives the work we do in our communities, and each of our offices partners with local nonprofits to develop relationships that go beyond pledging time and dollars. Since every organization is different, we approach each relationship differently by tailoring our support to align with what the organization needs to help achieve its mission.
In some cases, it is our time and guidance on boards, or our hands-on involvement with the various programs these organizations implement. In other cases, it is our legal experience that can help the most. And, of course, all benefit from financial donations and the fundraising assistance that we give.
In Chicago, for example, we support Gads Hill Center. Since 1898, Gads Hill Center has worked to create opportunities for children and their working families to build a better life through education, access to resources, and community engagement. Our strategic partnership with the organization includes board membership, helping students prepare for public speaking events, talking with them about potential career paths, and even helping them build rockets and robots. Gads Hill Center honored Michael Best with its 2018 Outstanding Partner Award.
Our Milwaukee office participates in a work/study program for students from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. Students of limited financial means, many of whom are diverse, are given the opportunity to spend one day a week at Michael Best throughout the school year. Working with guidance from our staff and attorneys, they gain work experience, learn about careers in the legal industry and the sciences, and make professional contacts. Our Austin office takes part in a similar program.
Michael Best is proud to support many other community organizations that are working to achieve diversity and inclusion goals.