Project Overview

Under our global Pro Bono Fellowship Program, Sidley sponsors fellowships in several of our U.S. offices, as well as our London office.

Sidley sponsors several fellowships that expand the capacity of legal nonprofits to advance their missions and serve the critical legal needs of clients. Through the Incoming Associates Pro Bono Fellowship Program (the Program) and the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) Fellowship Program, recent law school graduates are paid their full Sidley salary to work at legal nonprofit organizations for up to 10 weeks before joining the firm. Sidley also sponsors a year-long Sidley Austin Appellate Advocacy Fellowship in the Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. The work spans the range of subjects handled by Legal Aid, including evictions, custody and domestic violence issues, public benefits, and consumer protection. In addition, together with some of our corporate partners, Sidley co-sponsored Equal Justice Works Fellows at Kids in Need of Defense and The Bronx Defenders.

In London, all final seat trainees are invited to apply for a fellowship for up to 12 weeks in a charity or non-profit organization, prior to commencing their roles as newly qualified associates.

Here Is What Our Fellows Had To Say About Their Experiences:

Toby Brown, Associate, London — Banking and Financial Services

“I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with JUSTICE’s excellent team during my fellowship, and to have experienced the important work that JUSTICE does to scrutinize and challenge developments that impact on the UK’s adherence to human rights and the rule of law. My work at JUSTICE included drafting briefings for members of the House of Lords arguing for, among other things, much needed changes to the government’s highly restrictive new protest laws and to the government’s provisions reducing the scope and availability of judicial review. I was also able to assist with implementing policy recommendations from JUSTICE’s Mental Health and Fair Trial report, which involved coordinating next steps with stakeholders in the NHS and contributing welfare charities. Overall, the fellowship was enormously gratifying and has provided me with valuable additional legal training and relevant practical experience.”

Zahira Butt, Associate, London — Private Equity

“Not Beyond Redemption is a unique and much-needed charity spearheaded by an admirable woman who aims to assist women in prison with rebuilding or developing a relationship with their often estranged children. Over 17,000 children are separated from their mothers by imprisonment each year and 72% of women in prison are serving custodial sentences for a non-violent crime. Through the Sidley Pro Bono Fellowship, I was fortunate to spend three months at Not Beyond Redemption learning about these mothers, meeting them, filing court applications for them, and attending hearings with them. My time at NBR was testament to the major difference that can be made to someone’s entire life when just one person decides they’re worthy of help.”

Victor Flores, Associate, New York — Commercial Litigation and Disputes

“I had the privilege to work in The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice in its Manhattan Office, where I assisted trial attorneys with their bail, suppression, and juvenile suspension hearings, investigations, and motion practice. Specifically, I worked with an experienced public defender who treated me as a colleague, discussing issues and developing arguments, and demonstrated the importance of advocacy in different forms on behalf of defendants. As my first legal experience after law school, I will always remember the people and their insightful lessons from my PILI Fellowship experience.”

Isaac Green, Associate, Chicago — Commercial Litigation and Disputes

“My PILI fellowship with the ACLU of Illinois was the best possible way to start my legal career. It afforded me the opportunity to work with passionate and brilliant attorneys on a variety of civil rights issues that are fundamentally important to me. ACLU-IL also provided practical skills trainings and a community that have helped me develop as a lawyer. I can’t recommend the fellowship highly enough.”

Natasha Gunasekara, Associate, Los Angeles — Real Estate

“I had the opportunity to join the ACLU of Southern California as a member of the First Amendment and Democracy/Voting Rights teams, both of which are leading the fight for some of the most pressing issues of our time. Working alongside their brilliant group of attorneys and staff was an invaluable experience coming out of law school. While the substantive work I performed as a fellow was quite different from my current practice, it exposed me to areas of law I found a great deal of passion for and that I hope to contribute to through pro bono practice.”

Mary Hannon, Associate, Chicago — IP Litigation

“My PILI Fellowship was the ideal transition from law school to practice. As a Family Law Fellow with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS), I handled a number of adoption and divorce matters for low-income families and individuals throughout Chicago. Through this rewarding work, I interacted directly with my clients, independently representing their interests in court under my Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711 license. The skills I gained and the relationships I built in my fellowship have been invaluable to my budding career, and I have continued to grow my relationship with CVLS in my pro bono practice as a lawyer at Sidley.”

Zoe Hansen, Associate, London — Investment Funds

“I was interested in impact investing, as it presents a sustainable way of doing good and I was drawn to the pro bono fellowship as an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the field while also being able to apply the skills that I gained at Sidley. During the fellowship, I worked with Big Society Capital’s Legal team which is headed by two very experienced lawyers who were invested in my development during my time at Big Society Capital. The team gave me the flexibility to focus on projects and areas that I was particularly interested in, always allowing me to take on as much responsibility as I wanted and giving me the opportunity to lead on projects.”

Alyssa Hasbrouck, Associate, New York — Commercial Litigation and Disputes

“I am so grateful to have served as a Fellow with CEO Action for Racial Equity. CEOARE is a fellowship dedicated to advancing racial equity through public policy, with efforts focused on four key areas where longstanding racial disparities are widening: education, healthcare, economic empowerment, and public safety — with the goals of achieving equity for the more than 47 million Black Americans, ending systemic racism, and improving the well-being of our society as a whole. I am honored to have been able to contribute to that work as a Fellow.”

Heather Hedges, Associate, Washington, D.C. — Global Arbitration, Trade, and Advocacy

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work as a Pro Bono Fellow at Ayuda, which provides legal services to low-income, immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the Washington, D.C. metro area. I was able to serve this inspiring community of survivors while developing critical skills in client communication and trial practice. The substantive family law training I received from Ayuda’s attorneys has also proved invaluable for serving Sidley’s pro bono clients.”

Rebecca Lewis, Associate, Chicago — Commercial Litigation and Disputes

“My PILI Fellowship organization, the Lawndale Christian Legal Center, serves youth and young adults in Lawndale and demonstrates that restorative justice is a viable alternative to incarceration. The PILI Fellowship provided me with a wonderful opportunity to contribute to a cause I care deeply about. While studying abstract legal rules for the bar, the Fellowship also provided a valuable reminder of the practical importance of the law and the ways we can use the skills we have as lawyers to pursue justice for individuals and communities.”

Kamila Rivas, Associate, Washington, D.C. — White Collar: Government Litigation and Investigations

“When I think about the virtues I seek to embrace as a lawyer, I think of integrity, humility, grit, and compassion. The attorneys and staff at the Community Defender Division in the Public Defender Service for D.C. personify these virtues. Having the opportunity to learn about the criminal justice issues facing my community from this select group of people was a privilege and an honor. The Pro Bono Fellowship at Sidley gave me that opportunity, and for that, I am truly grateful. I could not have asked for a better way to start my legal career.”

Suzanne Span, Associate, Los Angeles — Restructuring

“My pro bono fellowship with the Western Center on Law & Poverty, a nonprofit in Los Angeles, allowed me to do incredibly powerful work on behalf of low-income Californians. During my fellowship, I was able to work on both impact litigation and policy advocacy projects relating to healthcare and public benefits. Within weeks of starting as an associate at Sidley, I rejoined the team for an impact litigation case I worked on at Western Center on a pro bono basis. The pro bono fellowship is a testament to Sidley’s deep connection with the community of advocates in Los Angeles.”

London Pro Bono Prize

Each year, the London office awards a prize for pro bono services to recognize exceptional contributions. The 2021 prize went to Trainee Solicitor Mannat Malhi.

Mannat Malhi, Trainee Solicitor, London — Food, Drug, and Medical Device Regulatory

“I would like to say thank you to the entire London team and the Pro Bono Committee for awarding me the 2021 London Pro Bono Prize. I care deeply about coupling my practice with a meaningful contribution to our communities, and am incredibly grateful that Sidley continues to expand its pro bono offering. The charity I have chosen to donate to is Client Earth. It is an organisation that strives to change the conversation around the climate crisis and hold key offending stakeholders accountable.”