Teri Peeples is an associate in the Products Liability group in the firm’s New York office. She is the co-founder and co-chair of Sidley’s Women of Color Initiative in New York.
You’re a very successful senior associate in the Products Liability practice group. What drew you to your practice, and what are some of the most impactful deals or matters you have worked on while at Sidley?
I really enjoy the mental energy and activity involved with being a lawyer, which is what drew me to products liability specifically. Each case is different, from the facts, to the medicine, to the alleged injury. There’s always the opportunity to immerse myself in something new. I also enjoy working closely with my clients through all stages of the litigation process, including product development, crafting a defense strategy, and developing expert witnesses.
One of my most rewarding cases is representing one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies in an ongoing matter related to their Type 2 diabetes medication. I’ve been able to build a strong relationship with the client and develop a deep understanding of the client’s business objectives, all of which has opened doors for new business opportunities and my continued counsel.
In addition to success in your practice area, you help lead an important and successful D&I initiative – Sidley’s Women of Color Initiative.
Yes, I co-lead Sidley’s Women of Color (WOC) Initiative with Toi Carrion in the New York office.
The group was created in 2018 with the support of Heidi Levine to address the unique concerns that women of color face in Big Law. The Committee on Retention and Promotion of Women (CRPW) and the Associates Diversity & Inclusion Committee both address concerns related to a wide range of diversity goals, but we were missing the intersectionality for women of color, who tend to be the most marginalized group in this setting.
The focus of the WOC Initiative is on maintaining a pipeline of strong women of color attorneys, mentoring, and advancement. Everything we do is targeted toward providing a space for women of color to network and build community so that we are more likely to stay at the firm and be successful. Our members meet quarterly, host social events, and mentor women of color law students. In just two years, the WOC Initiative has improved retention, the quality of mentoring relationships, enhanced Sidley’s workplace culture, and encouraged women of color to feel more comfortable talking openly about their challenges and sharing their successes.
What are your goals for the Women of Color Initiative in New York in 2021?
My goals for the WOC Initiative this year are to increase the contact points between women of color within and across offices through virtual and, hopefully, in-person meetings and activities; to develop and support programming for women of color targeted toward imposter syndrome and the tools to address unconscious bias; and to plan a collaborative client-facing event to promote business development between associates and their in-house counterparts.