Sidley and London partner Fatema Orjela were honored twice in the Class of 2021 of the Women, Influence & Power in Law UK Awards 2021 created by Law.com (publisher of Legal Week, amongst other legal publications). Sidley was included for “Law Firm D&I Initiative of the Year” as a result of Fatema’s work as London chair for the firm’s Committee on Retention and Promotion of Women (CRPW) and as a London member of the firm’s Committee for the Assignment and Compensation of Associates. Fatema was also included for the “Mentor of the Year” award. The annual awards ceremony honors top women lawyers who have made a remarkable difference in the legal profession this past year.
A key D&I focus for Fatema and our office in London in recent years has been to support associates to gain increased transparency and insight into their career paths. In particular, there has been a significant push to identify Sidley’s rising female stars and to position them to ensure that they are on the best route for them.
Fatema was named as “Mentor of the Year” for, amongst other things, committing significant time to training and supporting Sidley’s female lawyers, in order to help them bring together their professional and personal realities and ambitions. During 2020, Fatema provided in-depth, one-on-one mentoring and/or coaching sessions with over 50 associates at Sidley across multiple practice areas, 15 graduate applicants, and 10 diverse school/university-level students interested in the legal profession, over 60% of whom were female. During COVID-19 related lockdowns, she has also reached out to check on the mental wellbeing of female associates across the office by arranging group feedback calls, including candid conversations around childcare and work/life balance in a remote environment. Fatema uses her mentoring activities to overlay her CRPW role, including to identify where further firm/coaching support may be beneficial for associates to give them the tools to thrive and to open a path to personal and professional success.