Skip to content
  • Lincoln's Hilgers Graben is the Nation's Biggest Woman-Owned Law Firm

    Lincoln's Hilgers Graben is the Nation's Biggest Woman-Owned Law Firm

    Heather Hilgers a Texan at heart with the twang to prove it has adopted Lincoln since moving here in 2002.

    It’s become home, she says. And she’s found that she’s not alone in that sentiment.

    What the owner of Lincoln-based law firm Hilgers Graben has found is that if she can get an attorney to visit the Capital City, she has a pretty good shot at getting them to stay.

    “Lincoln has been very important to our growth and our ability to really lean into the business model that we have,” she said. “We’ve really been able to recruit some incredible attorneys here to Lincoln because they really love the lifestyle that is offered in Nebraska.”

    That lifestyle includes less traffic and a very reasonable cost of living that play into the quality-of-life issue, she said.

    “It allows us to keep our costs low so that we can compete with the larger firms on the coasts, like in Los Angeles in New York,” she said. “We have the same-caliber attorneys, but we just come at a much lower rate.”

    There’s also a culture that has been created at Hilgers Graben maybe a residual effect of the lifestyle Lincoln can offer that other major metropolitan cities cannot that emphasizes a “people-first” mindset, where the needs of the workforce are more important than the number of hours it bills.

    That was the plan when Mike and Heather Hilgers founded the law firm in 2011 with the intent of building a forward-thinking national litigation practice outside of the largest metropolitan areas in the country.

    “We have people who are wanting more time with their families, people who are primary caregivers to their children,” Heather Hilgers said. “… We’ve tried to offer flexibility to people.”

    And her trump card has been Lincoln and all it has to offer.

    Heather Hilgers has instituted what she calls the Hometown Program, two years of training, where an attorney moves to Lincoln and learns the Hilgers Graben processes and procedures.

    At the end of those two years, the attorney can move to another city and carry the firm’s flag there. It explains how Hilgers Graben has dozens of attorneys in several cities big and small across the United States.

    “They might not want to go to a large metropolitan city,” she said. “They might go home to, say, Montana, or somewhere like that.”

    And some attorneys arrive in Lincoln and never leave, Hilgers says.

    Hilgers Graben’s local office, located on the Lincoln Mall, has 18 employees, 10 of which are attorneys.

    “They come here and they’re amazed at what this community can offer,” Hilgers said. “We have the Lied Center for the Performing Arts and museums here. Lincoln is just such a cool city, and it’s really helped our recruiting efforts to be able to bring people here.

    “If I can just get them here, I can usually convince them to stay and to commit to this community.”

    In December 2022, Mike Hilgers formally divested ownership of Hilgers Graben. A month later, he was sworn in as Nebraska’s attorney general.

    His divestiture eliminated any potential for a conflict of interest, he said, and he chooses his words carefully when discussing his former law firm.

    When he became attorney general, he had little doubt about who should be moved into the Hilgers Graben corner office.

    “It’s rare to have the perfect, created-in-a-lab leader to take the firm as part of the transition,” Mike Hilgers said. “… Heather is an extraordinarily capable lawyer. She’s very smart. She’s been in the courtroom a lot. She’s an elite, authentic leader.”

    There may or may not be name recognition and added business that comes with the firm sharing a name with the state’s attorney general, but Hilgers Graben’s reach extends far beyond the Good Life, way beyond Nebraska’s lens.

    Hilgers Graben, which specializes in commercial litigation along with intellectual property and patent litigation, has offices in 15 cities nationwide, including in Atlanta, Seattle, Honolulu and Washington, D.C.

    And with that growth, the firm, with 28 partners and 140 attorneys and other employees, is now the largest woman-owned firm in the nation, according to the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms.

    That’s something to brag about, her husband says.

    “She’s a total superstar,” Mike Hilgers said. “She’s doing amazing things and she’s going to take that firm in places that I couldn’t even comprehend.”