Different perspectives and voices are critical to the success of any business, and the practice of law is no different.
At Michael Best, diversity is one of our core values, and we are committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive culture; hiring and retaining diverse attorneys and staff; and helping advance their careers. We uphold that commitment through a variety of programs, including those outlined below.
All of Michael Best’s diversity initiatives are guided by our Diversity & Inclusion 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 the Diversity Action Committee, a sub-committee made up of attorneys, paralegals, and technical professionals.
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 genders are encouraged to participate in and support our Women’s Initiative programs.
Professional Development and Support: Each of our offices has a Women’s Professional Development Group, consisting of female attorneys and professionals from all practice groups and seniority levels. These groups work to create and expand programs and policies within the firm that support our women lawyers and professionals in their professional development. Each group provides training and seminars to address the unique challenges women face in their professional development, as well as providing individualized guidance and support.
Marketing and Business Development: Through our Women’s Initiative, female attorneys and engineers/scientists at Michael Best provide one another with specific training and insight on how to network, market, and build a practice. Our Women’s Professional Development Groups also organize educational and social events with clients and prospective clients. These events provide opportunities to network, learn, and collaborate within and between practice groups on business development efforts.
Lawyers & Engineers Advancing Diversity
Our employee resource group, Lawyers & Engineers Advancing Diversity (LEAD), was founded in 2014 to support LGBT and racially diverse attorneys and professionals and their allies. LEAD conducts regular meetings and events to provide members with business development, networking, and educational opportunities. The group also works to foster supportive relationships among Michael Best’s LGBT and racially diverse attorneys, engineers, scientists, and allies, so they can readily share information about issues of mutual interest.
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.
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.
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.
On a firmwide level, our Diversity & Inclusion Committee coordinates a volunteer day called Best Efforts. The goal of Best Efforts is to provide a fun, meaningful way for attorneys and staff in all our offices to give back to our communities as part of a team on the same day. The Diversity Action Committee members from each office select a local charity to support, and all Michael Best employees and partners are encouraged to volunteer for their local charity on the same workday.
Locally, 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.
Michael Best is proud to support many other community organizations whose diversity and inclusion goals and vision closely align with ours, such as:
- AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin
- AIDS Walk Wisconsin
- Camp Kostopulos
- Centro de la Comunidad Unida/United Community Center
- Comfort Cases
- Erie Neighborhood House
- Gads Hill Center
- Milwaukee Debate League
- Northwestern University Youth Impact Program
- Second Harvest of Southeastern Wisconsin
- Urban League of Greater Madison
- Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce