For decades, Sidley has supported the LGBTQ community and LGBTQ lawyers. Notably, Sidley was among the first large law firms to grant parity in healthcare, leave and other employee benefits for same-sex domestic partners internationally. Today, openly LGBTQ lawyers practice in all of our firmwide offices, serve on the firm’s leadership and administrative committees and contribute their time to address issues affecting the larger LGBTQ community.
Sidley was the first law firm in the United States to become a national sponsor of Lambda Legal.
Sidley sponsors and recruits at the Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair each year. To enhance the pipeline of LGBTQ law students into the legal profession, Sidley also supports OUTLaw and other LGBTQ affinity groups at law schools across the country. Examples of this outreach include a 2018 networking reception hosted by the Chicago Diversity Committee for Chicago-area and Midwest LGBTQ law students and advocacy groups. Representatives from Northwestern, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, University of Chicago, Chicago-Kent, Loyola, DePaul and John Marshall attended, and met leaders of local and national LGBTQ bar and advocacy groups, as well as Sidley lawyers. The firm also hosted a dinner for Fordham OUTLaw and sponsored the University of Michigan OUTLaw’s Kevin E. Kennedy Scholarship Gala in 2017, among many other OUTLaw events.
LGBTQ law students are welcome to apply to the firm’s 1L Diversity Mentorship Program.
R. Jason Burch (New York) talks with law school students at the Midwest LGBTQ networking reception in Chicago.
Through the LGBTQ Buddy program, each incoming LGBTQ first-year associate is paired with an established LGBTQ Sidley lawyer who acts as an informal mentor. LGBTQ partners also participate in the firm’s diverse senior partner business development mentoring program and utilize the firm’s Diverse Partner Business Development Fund. In addition, LGBTQ lawyers are enrolled in the firm’s Diversity Mentoring Program (DMP) for diverse lawyers.
Once LGBTQ lawyers join the firm, Sidley invests in their talent and development through a number of initiatives. The Diversity Committee has taken steps to combat social isolation and help new LGBTQ lawyers integrate themselves into the firm and legal profession. The committee regularly hosts local social and educational events to support lawyers who identify as LGBTQ. These include programs on key legal cases, film showings, speakers from LGBTQ bar and advocacy groups and more. Quarterly teleconferences for all LBGTQ lawyers in our Hong Kong, U.S. and UK offices facilitate cross-office networking and business development. LGBTQ partners also personally host happy hours and small gatherings for LGBTQ lawyers and their families throughout the year. Through our Partner Up! program, associates receive a quarterly reimbursement for an informal networking activity with a Sidley partner or senior counsel.
Sidley hosts the Out of America event at our London office.
Sidley lawyers provide pro bono services in a range of matters of significance to the LGBTQ community. These include marriage equality, political asylum and immigrants’ right cases for openly gay, HIV+ or transgender clients, as well as adoption/parental rights cases. The firm filed an amicus brief in Obergefell v. Hodges. Our lawyers also successfully challenged a Nevada law prohibiting HIV+ individuals from adopting children. The firm has provided pro bono assistance to Immigration Equality, the National Immigrant Justice Center’s LGBT Immigrant Rights Initiative and Whitman-Walker Health, among other organizations.
We’re proud of the fact that Sidley was the first law firm in the United States to become a national sponsor of Lambda Legal — and our support continues today. The firm also sponsors a number of other LGBTQ bar associations and organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Illinois, Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, London’s Interlaw and the Hong Kong Gay and Lesbian Attorneys Network.
Leading LGBTQ advocacy groups have recognized Sidley’s efforts to create an inclusive firm. In 2019, Sidley received a “perfect” score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for the 12th year in a row. In 2017, Equality Illinois named Sidley as a “top law firm for LGBT inclusiveness and equality” for the eighth time. Sidley lawyers have been included on the National LGBT Bar Association’s list of “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40” from 2012–2017.