A trove of training and career development resources awaits new associates at Sidley, including the opportunity to hear personal stories from the firm’s lawyers that are recorded in audio and video. Ranging from the poignant to the mirthful, they all feature words of wisdom and inspiration.
Take, for example, the tale told by Andy Stern, a partner in the New York office and a co-chair of the firm’s M&A and D&O Litigation team. His audio track, from the album “Wisdom at Work” on the firm’s intranet site, details his appearance before a legendary and rather cranky justice in New York State court.
Then fresh out of law school, Stern recalls the judge peering down his glasses at him and saying, “Go back to your firm and tell them to send a grown-up down here to appear before me.”
Stern relayed this request once back at the office, only to be told that he was in fact the best person to handle the case. He went back to court and said as much to the justice, who laughed and ultimately took him seriously.
“We sometimes underestimate ourselves—and sometimes we are underestimated by others,” said Stern on an audio track, part of Voices of Sidley, a virtual mentoring resource from and for Sidley lawyers at all stages of their careers. This growing collection contains real-life career advice from the water-cooler to the courtroom and includes lawyers from different offices and spanning the firm’s litigation, transactional and regulatory practices.
Jody Rosen Knower, Chief Training and Professional Development Officer at the firm, cites Voices of Sidley as but one example of the sophisticated and highly novel resources the firm offers to its lawyers. Knower was the subject of the cover story in the September 2013 edition of Chief Learning Officer magazine, which has posted the article on its website. Earlier this year, the magazine conducted a video interview with her.
“No one else is doing this,” said Knower of the audio collections, which are replete with liner notes and original artwork, all produced in-house. She says the project’s aim is to be “a way for lawyers to connect to the firm’s culture and get practical advice and guidance.” Knower and her team typically propose ideas for projects like these to the lawyers, who lend their input based on firsthand experience in the legal trenches.
Another set of stories, “The Craft of Delegation,” features video interviews with Sidley lawyers and alumni who share best practices for delegating and supervising work. Knower says her team also produces tips sheets that complement the audio and video collections.
Such innovation recently earned Sidley, for the fourth consecutive year, recognition from Chief Learning Officer as a 2014 LearningElite organization. Knower was particularly gratified by this honor. “We really are devoted to providing the very best training and mentoring resources. But more than that, we are equally dedicated to doing so with an unusual mix of creativity and inspiration,” she said.