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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ 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.
Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship
Michael Best’s Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship initiative provides one to two years of full tuition to a diverse law student. The scholarship, which is part of our firm’s commitment to build opportunities for future generations of lawyers with diverse backgrounds, was developed jointly by our Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Recruiting Committee, and Management Committee.
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 2018
|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. Click here for press release.
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. Click here for press release.
A Top Firm for Diversity in Business 2017
|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. Click here for more info.
Top Latino Lawyers 2017
|Attorneys José Olivieri and Jorge Leon 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.
Click here for press release.
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 gold founding member 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.