Sidley has developed or partnered in a comprehensive set of programs that encourage women, minority, LGBTQ+, disabled, first-generation professionals, and economically disadvantaged high school, college and law students to enter the legal profession and, specifically, the private practice of law. We encourage high school students to consider a career in the law, support college students seeking admission to law school, fund scholarships for law students and work to ensure that our newer diverse lawyers and first-generation professionals obtain practical early legal experience. Working with school administrators at every level, and in the communities where we practice, Sidley supports the educational aspirations of thousands of diverse and economically disadvantaged students and first-generation professionals.
Applications for our 2023 1L DEI Summer Mentorship Program can be found here.
We strongly believe that developing a robust pipeline of diverse lawyers into the profession does not end once students enter our firm. Once law students graduate and start working, they can feel as though they have been thrown into the “deep end of the pool.” To boost the success and opportunities for our own newer minority, LGBTQ and disabled lawyers, we have created an Diversity Mentoring Program, which pairs them with senior practitioners in their practice groups. Senior partners work directly with their mentee or, if their work does not permit it, to find other senior partners with whom the mentee can work. Mentees receive challenging, skill building work, regular feedback, career advice, and access to client contact from this mentoring relationship. The firm monitors the mentor/mentee pairings to ensure that the program is meeting its purpose.
To help new associates quickly gain important practical legal skills, our Los Angeles office offers to pay all their incoming first year associates to work for six weeks in a pro bono or public service law organization. These new lawyers benefit tremendously from learning how to interview witnesses, argue motions, draft briefs, write orders and have other hands-on learning experiences that most first-year lawyers in large law firms do not have. Other offices may offer public interest law or pro bono opportunities to some incoming associates.
In Los Angeles, Sidley has partnered with Dorsey High School’s Law Magnet Program. The program provides a school-within-a-school curriculum for students interested in careers in law and public service. Serving approximately 200 students, the program is designed to expose students to career opportunities in the legal arena and volunteer activities throughout the community. Lawyers in Sidley’s Los Angeles office have presented seminars on campus, hosted students for visits to the office and organized field trips to courts and a law school. Sidley has also awarded an annual scholarship to a college-bound graduating senior.
In conjunction with the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Appellate Courts Experience (ACE), a project aimed at increasing the interest of minority high school students in the legal profession, members of Sidley’s LA Diversity Committee teach the basics of state court appellate process to students in high schools located in underprivileged and minority neighborhoods. This program combines classroom sessions, including discussions of an actual appellate case on calendar that semester, with a trip to the Court of Appeals to watch the case being argued and discuss the experience with judges from the panel.
Sidley’s New York office has a long relationship with the Justice Resource Center (JRC), a nonprofit focused on the administration of law and civic education programs for school-age youth. The firm has also partnered with the High School for Leadership and Public Service in Manhattan, where our lawyers works to expose the largely minority student body to the practice and study of law. Sidley lawyers have also served as mentors and coaches to minority students participating in annual New York Moot Court and Mock Trial state competitions, which includes a trip to federal court twice a year, Q&A with the judge, and tour of the courtroom and judge’s chambers.
Our New York office also participates in Legal Outreach, a program dedicated to encouraging the interest of inner-city high school youth 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.
More than 30 years ago, Sidley became the first Chicago law firm to “adopt” an elementary school, the Gerald Delgado Kanoon Magnet Elementary School. Kanoon primarily serves economically disadvantaged children ages pre-K through 8th grade in a largely Latino community. We provide books and school supplies, computers, holiday meals, clothing and shoes, mentoring and support to the school. Through “lawyers in the classroom,” mock trial and book groups, we introduce many children to the idea of professional employment and to what it means to be a lawyer.