With nearly 2,000 lawyers working on diverse topics for clients ranging from days-old
startups to household-name multinationals, Sidley is a global powerhouse.Headquartered in Chicago, with offices in New York, London, Munich, Beijing, Houston, Palo Alto, Tokyo, and other major global business centers, the firm literally never closes.
Although it's a huge firm, Sidley's culture is less anonymous and markedly more collaborative -- even personal -- than you might expect from a big law firm (or a Big Law law firm). Sidley's in-house tagline is "talent, teamwork, results," and that's not just a neat phrase for a motivational poster. It actually distills the way the firm selects new hires and structures work. The core concept: find people with exceptional skills and knowledge and create ways for them to interlink -- not just in small groups but across offices.
All Over the Map
Sidley is a full-service law firm, meaning it covers any type of legal matter that a company would typically encounter. While the firm takes a "no boundaries" approach to knowledge sharing (see above), it does have 15 distinct groups, or global practice areas, that its lawyers work under, including: Banking and Financial Services, Capital Markets, Litigation, Energy and Infrastructure, M&A and Private Equity, Intellectual Property Litigation, Real Estate, and Healthcare.
Of course, many matters require lawyers from several practice areas and those with regional experience to work together. Take, for example, a matter involving a Swiss pharmaceutical company, which alleges that an American company infringed on its intellectual property during an M&A due diligence exercise. Because of Sidley's depth of talent and just sheer size, the firm prides itself on being able to seamlessly pull together a team of people with the right backgrounds for every facet of a matter -- in this case, a cross-border dispute involving M&A, life sciences, and intellectual property rights -- while presenting a single "face" to the client.
An Advocate for Diversity
Diversity and inclusion are hallmarks of Sidley's company culture, and they're also key
parts of the global firm's hiring and retention practices.
Sidley's Diversity and Inclusion Committee is dedicated to increasing opportunities in the legal profession in general -- not just at Sidley -- for lawyers of all backgrounds, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identities, and expression or beliefs. Internally, the committee oversees mentorship and scholarship programs for current law students (part of the Pipeline Program), a mentorship program for new Sidley associates, and other initiatives intended to help lawyers from diverse backgrounds gain leadership roles.
Similarly, Sidley's Committee on Retention and Promotion of Women finds and implements strategies for retaining women lawyers and promoting them to positions of leadership within the firm, including as partners.
In a field that loves awards and rankings, it's no surprise that Sidley's diversity efforts have been recognized, too. In recent years, the firm has been named the "Most Inclusive Firm for Minority Women Lawyers" (from Chambers Women in Law Awards: USA) and listed among the "Best Law Firms for Diversity" (Vault) and as "A Top Law Firm for LGBTQ Equality" (Equality Illinois), among other accolades.
Sidley's Best Benefits
As you might expect from a top-tier law firm, Sidley's salaries and benefits packages are competitive with peers'. The firm offers high-quality, comprehensive medical, dental, and vision insurance policies, as well as generous life insurance, 401K, and paid parental leave options. Other benefits and perks, such as backup childcare, commuter-savings programs, gym reimbursements, and health and wellness programs, are intended to ease work-life balance.
Some Sidley employees may find that the biggest "life benefits" come from the firm's strong Alumni Network and Corporate Responsibility programs, however. Both offer long-lasting opportunities to make connections in the legal profession and take on meaningful roles that extend past your job title, such as taking a leadership role in a cause or community that's important to you by serving on the board of a nonprofit.
If you work at Sidley, there's a good chance you'll become involved in some way with pro bono work; it's fully integrated into the life of the firm. In 2019 alone, Sidley lawyers and staff dedicated more than 145,000 hours to pro bono projects in such areas as civil liberties, constitutional rights, and human rights.
Sidley lawyers advocated in court for asylum seekers, veterans denied benefits, and people who were wrongly incarcerated, while also performing nuts-and-bolts legal work for businesses that contribute to the greater good, such as a startup in Africa that uses tech to more efficiently distribute medicine and a company in Nicaragua that connects small family farmers with the global supply chain.
Attracting Talent and Cultivating From Within
According to Sidley, the firm hires most of its entry-level associates through its summer associate program, but third-year law students and recent law school graduates are also welcome to apply.
The firm is also open to reviewing applications from exceptional candidates even if no active searches are posted, and it makes "lateral hires"--meaning, it brings in senior lawyers from other firms.
Like any law firm, Sidley also has a diverse staff with varied skill sets, including professionals who work in operations, marketing, HR, or IT, among other areas, with roles that include business analyst, legal secretary, librarian, graphic designer, and billing specialist.
Once you're at Sidley, the expectation is that you'll stay and grow. Understandable for a firm with a more-than-150-year history, Sidley has a strong culture of training and professional development--in stark contrast to the "revolving door" atmosphere that's become increasingly common in the workforce and even at some law firms.
Sidley lawyers and staff are supported through one-on-one mentoring, proactive diversity and inclusion programs, and other efforts intended to remove barriers (such as OnRamp, a program for people who have gaps in their resumes after taking off time to raise a family or pursue other responsibilities).
The firm's professional-development curriculum for young lawyers is especially strong. Sidley associates are encouraged (and in some cases required) to build on their law degree by taking advantage of the firm's continuing education and career-development resources. Frequently recognized as a LearningElite company, Sidley offers:
If you think that Sidley's culture is a good fit for you, explore the opportunities waiting for
you at this global firm.