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Opportunities for Growth Drive Boston Office: A Conversation with Bob Buhlman


We recently spoke with Bob Buhlman, managing partner of Sidley’s Boston office, about how the office has evolved since opening its doors in 2013.

Looking back at the last five years, what are some of the highlights?

BB: Clearly, the biggest highlights have been the additions of skilled practice groups and lawyers in different disciplines, as we have executed on our growth plan. That growth has given Sidley a strong foothold in the Boston market. Our office’s four main practice areas cover securities, white collar, private equity and investment funds. These groups are very well represented and are complemented by strong individual practitioners in areas such as energy and cybersecurity, which are important practices not only here in Boston, but across the firm as a whole.

What is distinctive about the Boston office’s culture?

BB: A big part of what we try to instill here at every level is a strong entrepreneurial spirit. At the same time, we and our clients have access to the resources of a global firm. For our Boston partners, particularly senior-level partners such as myself, there is a lot of focus on client business development and finding new opportunities with existing clients. At the associate level, in terms of entrepreneurism, there are many networking opportunities within peer groups. Even if you’re not a decision-maker on new business yet, you can work toward that level as your career progresses. Whether you are a second-year associate or an eighth-year associate, you are encouraged to help grow the office.

Where do you see opportunities for growth?

BB: I hope to see continued organic growth in the groups that are here today and the addition of new groups through lateral hiring. In terms of practice areas, the group that we are most focused on building would be in the life sciences space. It’s an industry that Boston is known for, and it is a significant area of strength for Sidley overall. The correlation between Sidley’s strength and the Boston market is really the focus of our business plan here, and we are certainly looking to expand the life sciences piece.

What other initiatives is the office currently focused on?

BB: We have very active participation across the office in both the firm’s Committee for the Retention and Promotion of Women as well as the Diversity Committee, which two of our partners help co-chair. Our associates are also actively involved in diversity initiatives. Diversity is an important part of the firm’s culture generally, and we are very much committed here in Boston.

How does Sidley differentiate itself among other Boston firms?

BB: I see this particularly in the breadth and scope of our cross-practice and cross-office collaboration. When I left my previous firm to join Sidley, what appealed to me was Sidley’s excellent reputation and the size and scope of its reach. In particular, our commitment to representing our clients across a range of areas is evident in the recognition we receive from industry publications, and is validation in a very objective way of how strong our global platform is compared with other firms.