The American Bar Association honored Sidley Austin LLP with its Champions for Disability Inclusion in the Legal Profession Award. The ABA Commission on Disability Rights selected Sidley for its commitment to, and leadership in, building a culture that is welcoming and inclusive and provides opportunities for lawyers and law students with disabilities.
The Champions Award recognizes a law firm or corporation that has made measurable progress in the recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement to leadership positions of individuals with disabilities. The award was presented at the Commission’s Reception for Lawyers with Disabilities during the 2019 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, sponsored by Accenture and Microsoft.
Building relationships with affinity groups has resulted in the recruitment of more students with disabilities to Sidley’s summer associate program. In 2018, 17 Sidley associates self-identified as having a disability. These associates are enrolled in the firm’s Diversity Mentoring Program, which pairs all diverse associates with leading partners in their practice, with the goals of building skills, developing strong relationships with partners and clients, and fully integrating into their practice groups.
Sidley’s work has been driven by the launch in 2017 of the Disability Diversity Alliance, the firm’s disability inclusion initiative. The Alliance is a network of over 90 lawyers with disabilities and those interested in disability-related matters who make recommendations on how to improve firm culture, practices, and services for people with disabilities. The firm continues its efforts to ensure that its website complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and that its offices are physically accessible. In 2018, the Alliance launched an ongoing campaign of internal communications, discussing the benefits and value of self-disclosure of disabilities, explaining the processes for seeking accommodations, and expressing the firm’s embrace of all lawyers.
Sidley’s Prelaw Scholars Program is open and accessible to college students with disabilities. The program helps financially-challenged, diverse students navigate and fund the LSAT and law school admissions processes, and prepares them for their first year of law school. The firm’s 1L Diversity Mentorship program provides information about the legal market and on-campus interviewing, offers resume reviews, and holds mock interviews for about 100 rising second-year law students.