Toi K. Carrion is an associate in Sidley’s Investment Funds group in New York. She is the co-founder and co-chair of Sidley’s Women of Color Initiative in New York.
“I spent eight months with the client learning about collective investment funds, and it was honestly a highlight of my career.”
You’re a very successful senior associate in the Investment Funds 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?
Prior to law school, I worked as a paralegal in the Global Finance group at a large white shoe law firm in the New York. While there, I received a couple of pieces of guidance (albeit biased) from the lawyers in my group in choosing a practice area that I held with me thereafter. The first was that the transactional practice was essentially managing a deal from beginning to end – using our expertise, experience and resources to guide parties who are already in alignment on the end goal get there as seamlessly as possible. The second piece was that in litigation, lawyers are often arguing about the documents that transactional attorneys are drafting. Preparing well thought out and considered documents is essential to avoiding litigation (if you can), and protecting our clients in litigation, if it comes. I had always leaned toward problem solving, project management, and attention to detail in my academic and professional careers prior to law school, so I thought marrying my new legal knowledge with my existing skill sets would be perfect for me.
I tried all sorts of assignments as a summer associate at Sidley in the various transactional practice groups. Ultimately, I was drawn toward the lawyers that I worked with in the Investment Funds group. Admittedly, choosing Investment Funds had less to do with my preference for the work during a fast paced and event-filled summer, but a lot more to do with finding a group where I felt comfortable asking questions, encouraged to take on more work and responsibility, and confident that I had opportunities to grow and learn. The Investment Funds group also already had a number of women partners, counsels of color, and women of color. The diversity in leadership roles really influenced my decision to join this practice group above others that I was considering.
My practice has been a bit of a hybrid, working on both registered and private fund work during my time at Sidley. I’ve worked on more routine matters like annual updates to fund registration statements, drafting agreements in connection with changes in service providers, and document review projects— but have also worked on several large scale fund mergers and private and registered fund launches. This experience has given me the privilege of building strong relationships with some of the largest financial institutions in the world. Through these experiences and relationships, I was asked to go on secondment at a client site where I had the opportunity to work on collective investment funds – a new product that I hadn’t had a chance to work on at Sidley. I spent eight months with the client learning about collective investment funds, and it was honestly a highlight of my career.
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 the firm’s Women of Color (WOC) Initiative with Teri Peeples in the New York office. The goal of the Initiative is to provide women of color lawyers with better networking, relationship building, and mentorship opportunities with Sidley’s leadership and clients.
What are your goals for the Women of Color Initiative in New York in 2021?
Teri and I share many of the same goals, primarily to encourage more collaboration and engagement between Sidley’s women of color across offices and to increase opportunities for our women of color to building strong business relationships with their in-house counterparts.
Personally, I would also love to see us working more closely with firm leadership, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and the Committee on Retention and Promotion of Women to examine more closely how we can create systems within the firm to reduce the impact of the systemic racism that exists in most large institutions. I also hope that the Women of Color Initiative can really provide a safe space for women of color to share their stories and find unwavering support within the firm.