Sharon Flanagan serves as the San Francisco office managing partner, and is a member of Sidley’s Management Committee, Executive Committee, and the Global Life Sciences Leadership Council. She is a partner in the M&A practice area and has been recognized by The Recorder as a “trailblazer, mentor and advocate for women in tech.”
“My mother inspired me to never compromise on what I could accomplish professionally – she was an executive back in the ‘70s when there were so few women doing that, while also being a wonderful mother.”
What attracted you to the practice of law and what aspect of your practice do you enjoy the most?
I was first attracted to corporate work because I loved the fast pace of deals and still do. I also enjoy learning about a business, particularly when it involves cutting-edge science and technology. We worked on a breast cancer research program for a life sciences client, and the lead businessperson would remind us all through the negotiations: “Remember, we are here to save the lives of women with breast cancer.” It is rewarding to play even a small part in what could be a life-saving treatment.
Tell us about a professional goal you are proud of achieving, and what (or who) inspired you to go for it.
I became a partner and had my first child the same week. Those are both accomplishments I am proud of. My mother inspired me to never compromise on what I could accomplish professionally — she was an executive back in the ‘70s when there were so few women doing that, while also being a wonderful mother. She’s always been a role model to me.
What is the most memorable deal you led and what made it so memorable?
Working with Holly Gregory, Rebecca Grapsas and an amazing Sidley team on the historic transition of the internet naming function from U.S. control to the “worldwide community.” It was a blank page project with no precedent and involved a fascinating intersection of law, policy and international relations. We also had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul and Buenos Aires to present our recommendations in front of a global community.
On a personal note, what has been your go-to self-care activity in this remote work environment?
I invested in a Peloton the first week of the lockdown and it has been my go-to de-stressor. There is a Sidley group you can join #SidleyPeloton.
Can you share with us a saying or quote that gives you inspiration or helps you stay centered?
“It’s a long life.” A client said this once in a meeting when I was a young associate. We were in a tough negotiation with the other side, and she decided to take the high road on an issue. I always remembered this because it’s a good reminder that you will cross paths with people many times during your career, and it’s important to maintain strong and positive relationships.