Sidley has developed or partnered in a comprehensive set of programs that encourage women, minority, LGBT, disabled and economically disadvantaged high school, college and law students to enter the legal profession and, specifically, the private practice of law. We encourage high school students to consider a career in the law, support college students seeking admission to law school, fund scholarships for law students and work to ensure that our newer diverse lawyers obtain practical early legal experience. Working with school administrators at every level, and in the communities where we practice, Sidley supports the educational aspirations of thousands of diverse and economically disadvantaged students.
We strongly believe that developing a robust pipeline of diverse lawyers into the profession does not end once students enter our firm. Once law students graduate and start working, they can feel as though they have been thrown into the “deep end of the pool.” To boost the success and opportunities for our own newer minority, LGBT and disabled lawyers, we have created an Enhanced Mentoring Program, which pairs them with senior practitioners in their practice groups. Senior partners work directly with their mentee or, if their work does not permit it, to find other senior partners with whom the mentee can work. Mentees receive challenging, skill building work, regular feedback, career advice, and access to client contact from this mentoring relationship. The firm monitors the mentor/mentee pairings to ensure that the program is meeting its purpose.
To help new associates quickly gain important practical legal skills, our Los Angeles office offers to pay all their incoming first year associates to work for six weeks in a pro bono or public service law organization. These new lawyers benefit tremendously from learning how to interview witnesses, argue motions, draft briefs, write orders and have other hands-on learning experiences that most first-year lawyers in large law firms do not have. Other offices may offer public interest law or pro bono opportunities to some incoming associates.
Sidley offers a Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Initiative for second year law students who join Sidley’s summer program. Click for more information on the Sidley Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship.
1L Diversity Summer Mentorship Program
Launched in 2010, Sidley’s unique 1L Diversity Mentorship Program provides rising 2L diverse law students, who are employed elsewhere during the summer in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, San Francisco or Washington, with opportunities to network with lawyers from Sidley, other firms, legal departments and government agencies. This program is an effort to support the diversification of the legal profession as a whole and large law firms in particular.
Mentors and mentees meet informally to discuss topics such as the fall recruiting and summer associate program processes, interviewing best practices, and questions related to practice area selection. Program participants are also invited to attend opening and closing networking events, a formal workshop conducted by Sidley lawyers and recruiting staff, resume reviews and mock interviews, and our Diversity Dialogues program that occurs each summer. Mentors and mentees often stay in touch during the subsequent law school years and into the mentees’ careers.
Sidley lawyers and program alumni gather at the 5th anniversary celebration of the 1L Mentoring Program in D.C.
Local Office Programs
Our New York office is a Diversity Trailblazer sponsor of Practicing Attorneys for Law Students (PALS) which works to build the pipeline of minority students into legal practice. A Sidley lawyer sits on the Board of this organization and our lawyers act as mentors to law students. PALS and LatinoJustice recently established a PALS civil rights Fellowship, underwritten in part by Sidley. Through this Fellowship, Sidley sponsored a 2L student to work at LatinoJustice during the summer of 2013.
On July 20, Sidley’s New York office co-hosted a panel discussion on navigating bias encounters in the workplace with client JPMorgan Chase and Practicing Attorneys for Law Students Program, Inc. (PALS). From left: Martin Jackson; Dionne Fraser, vice president & assistant general counsel at JPMorgan Chase; Cassye M. Cole, former PALS mentee and litigation associate at Patterson Belknap; Alison L. Moore, managing director & associate general counsel at JPMorgan Chase; George Madison; María Meléndez; Paula Donaldson, PALS Executive Director; and Mike Schmidtberger.
Sidley’s London office supports two programs for law students through the BLD Foundation, a charitable organization aimed at increasing opportunities for diverse first-year law students and second year non-law students. Sidley hosts a summer workshop for First Headstart students at its London office; students visit later in the year for two days of work shadowing. Through the Foundation’s nine-month Legal Launch Pad program for second-year law students, final year non-law and some postgraduates, three students are also selected to join the Sidley office for a two-week structured Vacation Scheme.
As part of the USC Fellows program, a partnership between the University of Southern California Law School and the firm, each year a diverse rising 1L USC student joins the Los Angeles office summer program for the first half of the summer and the USC General Counsel’s Office for the second half. The student is offered the Fellowship as part of the law school admissions package as an incentive to increase the pipeline of diverse law students at the University.
The Sidley Prelaw Scholars Program is designed to help address the specific needs of racially-diverse students seeking to attend law school. Click for more information on the Sidley Prelaw Scholars Program.
2016 S4 Sidley Scholars Class meets with Hon. Ann Claire Williams, United States Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Sidley’s London office is continuing its initiative with the BLD Foundation to support young people from ethnic minority and/or socio-economically underprivileged backgrounds towards achieving their fullest potential. Sidley works with BLD to provide students with knowledge and information about the opportunities available in the legal profession, equipping them with the skills to take advantage of these opportunities and providing them with access to work placements and recruitment opportunities in leading firms and chambers nationally.
Our London office is also involved in the Access to Practice Scheme run by BPP Law School. This program consists of mentoring Legal Practice Course students who have yet to secure a training contract, the majority of whom are ethnic minority or mature applicants.
In Los Angeles, Sidley has partnered with Dorsey High School’s Law Magnet Program. The program provides a school-within-a-school curriculum for students interested in careers in law and public service. Serving approximately 200 students, the program is designed to expose students to career opportunities in the legal arena and volunteer activities throughout the community. Lawyers in Sidley’s Los Angeles office have presented seminars on campus, hosted students for visits to the office and organized field trips to courts and a law school. Sidley has also awarded an annual scholarship to a college-bound graduating senior.
In conjunction with the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Appellate Courts Experience (ACE), a project aimed at increasing the interest of minority high school students in the legal profession, members of Sidley’s LA Diversity Committee teach the basics of state court appellate process to students in high schools located in underprivileged and minority neighborhoods. This program combines classroom sessions, including discussions of an actual appellate case on calendar that semester, with a trip to the Court of Appeals to watch the case being argued and discuss the experience with judges from the panel.
Sidley’s New York office has a long relationship with the Justice Resource Center (JRC), a non-profit focused on the administration of law and civic education programs for school-age youth. The firm has also partnered with the High School for Leadership and Public Service in Manhattan, where our lawyers works to expose the largely minority student body to the practice and study of law. Sidley lawyers have also served as mentors and coaches to minority students participating in annual New York Moot Court and Mock Trial state competitions, which includes a trip to federal court twice a year, Q&A with the judge, and tour of the courtroom and judge’s chambers.
Our New York office also participates in Legal Outreach, a program dedicated to encouraging the interest of inner-city high school youth in the legal profession. Each summer Sidley hosts four Legal Outreach students for a one-week internship which includes a mock oral argument presentation to firm lawyers, court visits with District Court and Appellate Court judges, and other educational activities.
More than 30 years ago, Sidley became the first Chicago law firm to “adopt” an elementary school, the Gerald Delgado Kanoon Magnet Elementary School. Kanoon primarily serves economically disadvantaged children ages pre-K through 8th grade in a largely Latino community. We provide books and school supplies, computers, holiday meals, clothing and shoes, mentoring and support to the school. Through “lawyers in the classroom,” mock trial and book groups, we introduce many children to the idea of professional employment and to what it means to be a lawyer.