Different perspectives and voices are critical to the success of any business, and the practice of law is no different.
At Michael Best, diversity, equity, and inclusion are among our core values. We’re committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive culture; hiring and retaining diverse attorneys and staff; helping advance their careers; and working for equity in the legal profession and our communities.
Michael Best’s program is guided by our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee. Composed of attorneys and HR professionals, including practice group leaders, the committee takes an active role in recruitment, retention, and firm policy. Programs are implemented by Diversity Action Committees, made up of attorneys, paralegals, and technical professionals. The firm is also supported by a full-time DEI Manager.
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 convene employees who identify as part of an underrepresented or traditionally marginalized group and allies.
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.
Michael Best’s ERGs are designed to support people who have historically been underrepresented in the legal profession, including women, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Participation in these groups is open to all interested attorneys and professional staff.
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.
Patent Engineering Internship Program
As part of the firm's diversity initiative, recruiting efforts for our patent engineering internship program (EDGE) include partnering with the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers to increase the visibility of our program among under-represented diverse groups and to expose diverse engineers to the patent engineering opportunities within a legal environment. EDGE is a paid internship program that gives engineering and science students a chance to work alongside Michael Best’s IP professionals, performing patent and technical research, writing, and review.
Michael Best’s Diversity Scholarship is designed to increase the number of diverse attorneys who want to both pursue careers in the legal industry and promote diversity in the legal profession. Developed jointly by our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, Recruiting Committee, and Management Committee, Michael Best Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship winners receive a gift of a $10,000 non-renewable scholarship, for their third year of law school, payable immediately after successful completion of the 2022 Michael Best Summer Associate Program.
The scholarship’s first recipient was selected in 2017 from a field of more than 25 applicants, based on academic credentials, interviews, and written application materials. In addition to full tuition, recipients are offered a summer associate position at Michael Best, where they gain real-world experience and mentorship.
Our internal policies include a Diversity Ombudsperson process to ensure that employees can raise issues and report concerns without fear of retaliation. In addition, Michael Best’s progressive HR policies, such as generous parental leave and alternative work schedules, appeal to lawyers and professional staff seeking an inclusive and accommodating workplace.
External programs include recruiting at schools with substantial diverse populations, including historically black colleges and universities, and through organizations such as diverse law student associations, bar associations, and other professional organizations. Our attorneys also participate in mentoring programs that nurture talent among diverse students.
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.