Name: Heidi Levine
Office: New York
Practice Group: Products Liability (primary)
New York Partner Heidi Levine has made supporting and mentoring young women and minorities — both inside and outside the firm — a hallmark of her career. When she joined Sidley in March 2016, she jumped at an opportunity, shared by Peter Kaufman (New York), to volunteer as a mentor in the Legal Outreach program. Sidley’s office in New York has long served as a firm partner for Legal Outreach, a nonprofit dedicated to preparing students from underserved communities for college and introducing them to potential careers 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. As a mentor with the program, Heidi coached two Legal Outreach interns on writing legal briefs, preparing oral arguments and debate prep.
Heidi’s week of mentoring turned into a full-time commitment at the end of the Legal Outreach internship when she agreed to serve as a formal Attorney Mentor for Alviena Rahman, one of the students visiting Sidley. Legal Outreach participants are encouraged to find Attorney Mentors to serve as a coach for a series of constitutional law debates sponsored by the program, in addition to acting as an adviser, role model and friend.
“I loved how proactive Alviena was about her own life and her future. She wanted me to be her mentor because she liked that I pushed her in debate preparation and wasn’t afraid to tell her what to do to make her arguments stronger and to have more confidence,” said Heidi. “I was impressed with how committed she was to doing everything she could do to put herself in the best position to have a career in law.”
Heidi will continue to mentor Alviena, a rising junior, until she graduates from high school. Heidi is especially proud that Alviena recently won the Legal Outreach Sophomore “Debater of the Year,” after competing against 140 other sophomore students in a series of four debates. Heidi mentored and coached Alviena throughout the year in preparation for each debate, meeting in her apartment or at Sidley on the weekends and via FaceTime at night on school nights, including until 3:00 a.m. the nights before the debates.
Heidi commented on a valuable takeaway from her role as a mentor. “It’s been a wonderful experience. What is interesting is that Alviena won the three debates that I was able to attend in person and took second place at the debate I could not attend. I do not know if there is a definitive correlation, but it shows the impact that being there for someone and supporting them in every way possible way can have on a person. I believe my presence gave her confidence, but she had the tools to be successful on her own.”
Over the past year, the two have really bonded, with Heidi meeting Alviena’s family and boyfriend. They text nearly everyday, catching up about schoolwork, exams and life in general. Earlier this year, Heidi promised to take Alviena to see Hamilton if she won the Sophomore Championship Debate. Making good on that promise, she and Heidi will take in a performance this summer.
Heidi Levine with her Sidley Legal Outreach mentee Alviena Rahman.