Sidley has been a leader in supporting pro bono fellowships and externships. Under Sidley’s program, we provide a fellowship stipend or pay the salary of the fellows to allow them to work for a nonprofit organization for about 10 weeks either before starting with the firm or, in the case of our New York office, after working in the firm for a period of time. In Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Chicago, the incoming associates can choose among a variety of nonprofit organizations, including those that provide direct services to indigent people, as well as those that engage in impact litigation and policy work. In New York, associates are detailed to Her Justice (formerly known as inMotion), an organization that provides legal services to low-income women and their families.
Through their work with the nonprofit organizations, associates become familiar with the organizations, their staffs and their work, and often develop relationships that they continue and expand when they come or return to the firm. These relationships often are an important source of pro bono matters for the firm and the fellows throughout their careers. The firm benefits because the fellows acquire experience in a short period of time as they are exposed to the often intense pace of life in a nonprofit organization. Fellows develop skills dealing with clients, negotiating with other lawyers, and advocating in court or in other settings in which they need to persuade a decision-maker. In 2013, Sidley sponsored 22 fellows and/or externs.
In April 2012, the DC office inaugurated a loaned associate program with the District of Columbia Legal Aid Society. Under the program, an associate spends approximately four months working with the Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project and is able to argue one of the cases on which he/she worked in the D.C. Court of Appeals either while at the Legal Aid Society or after returning to the firm. Kyle Fiet was the inaugural Loaned Associate and had his first argument in the D.C. Court of Appeals on November 21, 2012. Following Kyle, seven more associates have served as loaned associates with Legal Aid, gaining significant appellate advocacy and D.C. poverty law experience.