As part of our diversity efforts, Sidley is working to strengthen and expand our support for our lawyers with disabilities, in addition to increasing efforts to recruit, retain and promote more lawyers with disabilities. We strive to create a culture where lawyers with disabilities feel comfortable disclosing their disability status and welcomed in the workplace. To assist with this effort, Sidley recently launched the Disability Diversity Alliance, a supportive network for lawyers with disabilities and lawyers interested in workplace disability issues.
Together with firm leadership, the Diversity Committee, Human Resources, IT, Recruiting and other administrative departments, the Alliance is working to strengthen the firm’s disability-inclusive culture. The goals of the Alliance are:
- to increase the overall understanding of what encompasses the range of disabilities;
- to publicize firm and external resources available for lawyers with disabilities or lawyers whose family members have disabilities;
- to demonstrate the importance and safety of disclosing disabilities; and
- to ensure that the firm is inclusive and welcoming for law students, lawyers, clients and others with disabilities.
The initial priorities of the Disability Diversity Alliance are improving access to Sidley’s physical facilities and electronic portals, connecting with clients’ disability networks, expanding internal education on disability issues and supporting law school affinity groups.
Sidley supported students in the formation of the first Northwestern Law Students Mental Health Association.
In addition to our affinity group outreach, law school students with disabilities are welcome to apply to the firm’s 1L Diversity Mentorship Program.
Sidley lawyers and law school participants at the firm’s 1L Diversity Mentorship Program farewell dinner in Washington, D.C. The 1L Diversity Mentorship Program is one of Sidley’s signature pipeline initiatives for diverse law students.
Lawyers with disabilities take part in the firm’s general programs and initiatives designed to support diverse associates. These include the Diversity Mentoring Program (DMP) for diverse lawyers and the Partner Up! program, where associates receive a quarterly reimbursement for an informal networking activity with a Sidley partner or senior counsel.
On July 8, 2015, Sidley hosted a conversation and celebration on the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as part of the firm’s annual Diversity Dialogues. A distinguished panel of speakers discussed the ADA in the context of this significant 25-year milestone, exploring the past successes and the challenges that remain since the ADA’s passage. Speakers included Samuel Bagenstos, professor of law at the University of Michigan; Rebecca Bond, chief of the Disability Rights Section at the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division; and Maria Town, associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. Michael Gamel-McCormick, associate executive director for research and policy at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, moderated the panel.
Guests listen to the panel discussion during the 2015 Diversity Dialogues on the 25th anniversary of the ADA.