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Pictured from Sapientia Law Group are, back row from left, Towle Neu and Nick Leonard, and, front row from left, Robin Wolpert, Demetria Dyer and Sonia Miller-Van Oort.

2019 Diversity & Inclusion: Sapientia Law Group

Back in 2011, six local attorneys took a bold step when they founded a diversity-focused law firm, Minneapolis-based Sapientia Law Group.

Sapientia’s founders “took a chance” by forming a firm with diversity at the forefront, said co-founder Sonia Miller-Van Oort, a past president of the Minnesota State Bar Association who serves as the firm’s president and chief manager.

Diversity “is not a standalone issue,” Miller-Van Oort said. “It’s not just a matter of forming a diversity committee. It’s about how you live diversity in all other aspects of the law firm.”

Sapientia embraces diversity in a number of ways: allowing for individual differences and authenticity, and creating an environment that supports diversity and inclusion by: not using billable hours as a metric, rewarding and compensating based on results and data; maintaining a perpetual improvement culture through Peer 360 reviews and client feedback; and eliminating traditional hierarchical titles, structures and dynamics.

The firm’s attorneys are members of Minnesota Black Lawyers Association, Minnesota American Indian Bar Association, Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, and the Lavender Bar Association. Sapientia’s team includes two of the only five female presidents of the Minnesota State Bar Association both of whom advanced diversity and inclusion initiatives at the MSBA while serving, one of whom is the only Hispanic president of MSBA.

The firm has co-hosted, sponsored, and presented several diversity and inclusion-related programs over the last 18 months through MSBA, Minnesota Womens Lawyers’ annual conference, Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, and BrightSmith.

In 2018, Sapientia Group was honored by the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms as “MVP Law Firm of the Year.”

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