We strive to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace through our retention, recruitment and development efforts. We believe that a shared understanding and commitment to our Vision, Beliefs and Values creates a supportive and caring environment. We maintain a culture of mutual respect, professionalism, teamwork and collaboration.
Women in Leadership
Susan Lovern is the firm's first female President and CEO and a long-time von Briesen lawyer, having started with the firm as a summer associate. In September 2021, she was featured in Wisconsin Lawyer's special focus issue, "Changemakers: Women as Leaders." Our number of women in leadership roles are well above national and local averages with women serving as 67% of our Practice Group Leaders and 37.5% of our Compensation Committee. Our firm's percentage of women Equity Shareholders surpasses the averages on the national and local level.
Our women attorney group, “vBR Women”, is co-chaired by Doris Brosnan and Mollie Kugler. The group organizes a diverse range of educational, networking and social events such as skills training, podcast discussion groups, and golf lessons. We are sponsors of the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) and Association for Women Lawyers (AWL). Our attorneys regularly participate in AWL and NAWL conferences and lead networking initiatives for women lawyers. In addition, we have a long history of serving in leadership roles with the AWL.
Olivia Jaskolski, the firm's digital law librarian, is a recipient of the Black Excellence Award from the Milwaukee Times. Olivia was recognized for being the first African-American Law Librarian in the State of Wisconsin.
Diverse Attorney Recruiting, Integration and Development
The firm continually works to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. We strongly encourage qualified women, minorities, Veterans, individuals with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community to apply. We actively recruit candidates from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and law schools, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
We support participation in organizations that promote diversity, hire diverse candidates and provide networking opportunities for all. We work with diverse business partners and minority-owned staffing agencies, including: LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic National Bar Association, Veterans Chamber of Wisconsin and Diversity Management Group.
Commitments and Sponsorships
von Briesen has signed the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) Region of Choice Corporate Pledge. The pledge signals our commitment as a corporate leader in advancing Milwaukee as a Region of Choice for diverse talent. The project's goals by 2025 are: 1) increasing African American or Latino/Hispanic managers by 25%; and 2) increasing total employment of African Americans or Latinos/Hispanics by 15%.
von Briesen participates in the Southeastern Wisconsin General Counsel Forum. The Forum is committed to optimizing the diversity of Milwaukee area attorneys, whether in private practice or in-house positions.
For many years we have been a proud sponsor of the Charles N. Clevert Summer Internship Program. The Program is available to high-school age students who have demonstrated their interest in the law by completing the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association Summer Youth Institute. The students are placed in law firms, nonprofit organizations, government agencies or judicial chambers for a four-week, full-time work experience. At the completion of the Program, the students receive a scholarship.
von Briesen was integral in the expansion of i.c.stars into Milwaukee. i.c.stars provides a rigorous technology-based workforce development and leadership training program for low income adults and establishes bridges for Milwaukee companies seeking qualified local candidates.
Additional organizations we support include:
- Best Buddies of Wisconsin
- Greater Milwaukee Urban League
- Hispanic National Bar Association
- Legal Action of Wisconsin
- Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, Inc.
- QLaw, University of Wisconsin Law School
- State Bar of Wisconsin Diversity Outreach Committee
- Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Hispanic Lawyers Association
- Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce
- Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce
Firm leaders have participated in a multi-part training with Beth Ridley, CEO of Ridley Consulting Group. The training focused on understanding DE&I competencies, implementing the principles into practice, and applying the concepts to inform recruiting strategies and develop inclusive leadership skills.
As part of our commitment to ongoing diversity and inclusion programming, Derek Mosley, Director of Marquette University Law School’s Lubar Center, presented an employee education program on unconscious bias. The session focused on strengthening recognition and understanding of unconscious bias and developing techniques to mitigate it in order to positively contribute to a culture of inclusion.
Family Friendly and Balanced Workplace Policies
At von Briesen we understand that supporting our employees also means supporting their family, whatever that looks like. We support work-life balance through alternative or reduced work schedules and provide the technology and tools to support remote work. Our benefit offerings and workplace policies aim to assist our employees and beyond. Equal parental paid leave benefits for the birth or adoption of a child, short-term disability coverage, and generous paid time-off are examples of the benefits and policies available to employees. We enjoy celebrating with our employees and supporting them through important life events.
The firm offers robust mental health programs for both attorneys and staff including resilient thinking, mental health awareness, avoiding burnout, understanding depression, and a program for parents on supporting children's mental health. Regular wellness programming is offered to support our employees, their family members and their overall support systems and includes meditation and yoga classes and instruction, physical health challenges, and nutrition. We support the whole person and their unique differences, both inside and outside of the workplace.
Diversity Training by von Briesen Attorneys
Attorneys from our Labor and Employment Section are frequent presenters on a wide range of diversity training programs. Some of our recent offerings include:
- Creating a Diverse Workforce
- Training Employees on Preventing Bias and Discrimination
- How Diversity Can Help with Recruiting and Retention
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace – Policy and Program Considerations
If your organization is interested in one of these sessions, please contact Karen Brunow.
The firm supports equal employment opportunity for all applicants and employees. Our success depends on qualified people regardless of their age, race, creed, religion, color, disability, marital status, sex, national origin, ancestry, arrest or conviction record, sexual orientation, use of lawful products, membership in the military, or any other basis protected by law. The firm prohibits discrimination based on these characteristics in any personnel action. All employees must support this policy through leadership and personal example.