14 Dec 2020

Sidley Austin sees women partner intake rise in latest promotion round

Gender diversity rises to 43% as 12 out of 28 new partners at top 10 US firm are women

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Sidley Austin has boosted its female partner ranks in its latest partnership round, with women accounting for 12 of the 28 global appointments.

That figure (43%) was up slightly on 2019’s cohort, where 11 – or 37% – of new partners were female. The US also dominated the partnership round, accounting for 25 of the promotions. Two partners were also added in London, and one in Munich following the departure of Munich managing partner Erik Dahl in the summer.

That is slightly below the 30 global promotions announced in 2019, though in line with the 25 partners added in the US last year. There were also two London promotions in the 2019 cohort, with the others in Asia – two in Hong Kong and one in Tokyo.

Mike Schmidtberger, chair of Sidley’s executive committee, said: “We could not be prouder of the talented lawyers that make up our 2021 partnership class. They are a diverse group that represent a broad mix of practices and offices across geographies.”

Sidley’s Chicago headquarters saw the most promotions with seven new partners, including white collar defence lawyer Daniel Craig and M&A lawyer Ian Helmuth. Two of the seven are female – employment and immigration lawyer Teresa Reuter and healthcare specialist Catherine Starks.

The Washington DC office saw the second most promotions with six new additions - four of whom are female – though down from the 11 made in total last year. The 2020 female cohort include employee benefits and executive compensation lawyer Stacy Crosnicker, global arbitration lawyer Jen Fernandez, food and drug compliance and enforcement attorney Deeona Gaskin and banking and finance lawyer Gretchen Lamberg.

The two London promotions had a 50/50 gender split, the same as in 2019. The new partners are banking and finance lawyer Max Savoie and real estate lawyer Jade Williams-Adedeji.

There was also a broad mix of practice areas included in the promotion round, with litigation and disputes-related lawyers accounting for six of the promotions, and finance and employment-related lawyers accounting for three each. 

In July, Sidley promoted four private equity specialists in Europe following the departure to Goodwin Proctor of Dahl – who was also co-head of private equity at the firm. Those included two promotions to partnership and two to leadership positions.

In all, five European Sidley private equity partners jumped ship for Goodwin Proctor, four of them based in London.

In October, the firm reached a conciliation agreement with the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in which it agreed to improve its tracking of demographic statistics on summer associate applicants, associate bonuses and staff member promotions and provide more diversity and inclusion-focused scholarships and internships for law students.

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