|Sidley Austin LLP|
|Headquarters||One South Dearborn
|No. of offices||18 Worldwide |
|No. of attorneys||1800 |
|No. of employees||about 3,440 (Dec 2012)|
|Major practice areas||General practice|
|Revenue||$1.42 billion USD (2011)|
|Founder||Norman Williams and
John Leverett Thompson
|Company type||Limited liability partnership|
Sidley Austin LLP, formerly known as Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP, is the sixth-largest U.S.-based corporate law firm with 1900 lawyers, annual revenues of more than one billion dollars, and offices in 18 cities worldwide, with the most recent addition of Boston, MA in 2013. It is a full-service law firm, with broad experience in transaction and litigation matters. Its original predecessor firm was founded in 1866 and had former first lady Mary Todd Lincoln, then the widow of President Abraham Lincoln, among its earliest clients. The firm was formed as the result of the merger of two firms: the Chicago-based Sidley & Austin, founded in 1866, and the New York-based Brown & Wood, founded in 1914. The merger was completed in May 2001. The firm's headquarters is at One South Dearborn in the Chicago Loop, Chicago.
In each year since the survey's inception, Sidley has received more First-Tier National Rankings than any other U.S. law firm in the Best Law Firms Survey by U.S. News & World Report. The 201 US News Survey also named Sidley as the "Law Firm of the Year" in Corporate Law and Private Funds/Hedge Funds Law. As of 2011, it was the 12th largest law firm in the world (and 8th in the US) by revenue.
Origins in Chicago
The firm that was to become Sidley Austin was formed in Chicago in 1866 by Norman Williams and John Leverett Thompson as the partnership of Williams & Thompson. One of the nascent firm's first clients was the Pullman Company, the manufacturer of specialty sleeping railway cars. Other early clients included Western Union Telegraph Company, which moved its Midwest headquarters from Cleveland to Chicago in 1869. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the firm represented numerous insurance companies including Equitable Life Assurance Society. In the late 19th century, Williams & Thompson counseled several utility and railroad companies expanding in the West, Sidley joined the firm after having earned an LLB from Union College of Law and a further M.A. from Harvard Law School. By 1913, the firm's name was changed to Holt, Cutting & Sidley, although Sidley would be the guiding personality for the Chicago firm through the 20th century. Three years later—the firm then 50 years old—had four partners, four clerks (associates) and ten staff employees with gross income of around $100,000 (roughly $1.9 million in 2008 dollars).
Buffeted by the Great Depression, the firm experienced a dramatic fall in revenues until the New Deal on the 1930s reinvigorated the capital markets. The firm represented Halsey, Stuart & Co., a Chicago-based underwriter in one of the first transactions under the Securities Act of 1933. In 1944, the name was changed to Sidley, Austin, Burgess & Harper and shortened to Sidley & Austin in 1967.
Towards a national firm
After the Second World War, Sidley & Austin began expanding beyond its Chicago roots as many of its clients entered new markets. In 1963, its Washington, D.C. branch was established which would soon become an important player in that city's legal market through its representation of the American Medical Association, American Bar Association and the International Minerals & Chemical Corporation. The firm developed strengths in antitrust and the representation of clients in front of the Federal Trade Commission.
Sidley & Austin was among many law firms stung by the Savings & Loan Crisis and was forced to pay $7.5 million to settle legal malpractice claims stemming from its representation of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. Such legal work was profiled in the book by Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith, No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America.
Expansion and consolidation
Sidley & Austin expanded tremendously in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1972, the firm merged with the 50 lawyers of Chicago firm Leibman, Williams, Bennett, Baird & Minow. Offices were established in London, Los Angeles, Singapore and New York in short order.
In 2001, the firm merged with Brown & Wood, a New York-based law firm established in 1914 with 400 attorneys additional domestic offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles and overseas branches in London, Beijing and Hong Kong (where it practiced English law in addition to U.S. law). Brown & Wood was known for its securities, structured finance and securitization practices. The firm's well-regarded publication, Accessing the U.S. Capital Markets: An Introduction to United States Securities Law, continues to be updated annually today. Brown & Wood had offices in the World Trade Center. The firm was known as Sidley Austin Brown & Wood until the name was rebranded as Sidley Austin in 2006.
Appellate Practice Group
In 1985, the late partner, Rex E. Lee, a former U.S. Solicitor General, formed Sidley Austin's national Appellate Practice Group to represent clients in all appellate courts including the United States Supreme Court, the federal courts of appeals, and state appellate and supreme courts. The group is currently led by Carter Phillps, who is the chair of the firm's executive committee.
The Appellate Group has argued several landmark cases before the Supreme Court including U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton (constitutionality of state-imposed term limits on members of Congress), Missouri v. Jenkins (proper role of federal courts in imposing desegregation remedies), and United States v. Lopez (Commerce Clause challenge to a federal statute prohibiting the possession of firearms within 1,000 feet of a school). Directly or indirectly, Sidley Austin plays a role in 40 percent of the cases the Supreme Court hears every term. Over the last 25 years, its lawyers have argued 96 high court cases.
Rankings and recognition
The firm frequently appears at the top of various industry rankings. In 2005, the BTI Consulting Group named Sidley to its Client Service Hall of Fame—one of only two law firms to rank in BTI's Client Service Top 10 for five consecutive years—and Sidley was named No. 1 Power Elite Firm for 2005. The firm also showed up in 14 categories on The American Lawyer's Corporate Scorecard, landing in the No. 1 spot for its roles as issuer's counsel in equities offered by U.S. corporations, issuers' and underwriters' counsel for investment grade debt, and underwriters' counsel for REIT debt. Other recent honors include the 2005 Catalyst Award, conferred in recognition of the firm's impressive initiatives to retain and promote women attorneys, and its second consecutive year as No. 1 in the rankings by Thomson Financial for top issuer counsel and manager counsel for U.S. debt and equity-related activity.
The firm is particularly known for its securities practice and its international trade practice, both of which have consistently ranked first in the respective specialty rankings of Chambers and Partners. The trade group currently represents the Airbus/European Communities side in the ongoing WTO dispute with Boeing/US. The group was recently named Global WTO Law Firm of the Year  and ranks first, before Wilmer Hale and Steptoe & Johnson, in the European Legal 500 ranking. Its appellate and US Supreme Court practice is also particularly well-known and has been featured in USA Today, BusinessWeek, the American Lawyer, the Legal Times, and the National Law Journal.
In 2008 Sidley Austin was awarded Deal of the Year - Debt Market Deal of the Year at the 2008 ALB Hong Kong Law Awards. In 2011 Sidley Austin was named Competition and Regulatory Team of the year at the Lawyer awards in London ref www.thelawyer.com/1008278.article
Sidley Austin during the September 11 attacks
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 personally affected the employees of Sidley Austin. Prior to the merger creating Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, which took place just four months before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the head office of Brown & Wood was in the World Trade Center, while Sidley & Austin was located in offices on Third Avenue. Out of 600 employees who worked in the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks, one perished, a switch board operator named Rosemary Smith. 
Sidley Austin reopened its New York office on Monday, September 17, 2001 in the old Sidley & Austin office on Third Avenue that it had planned on closing on September 16. Instead, it leased four additional floors in that location, in a deal completed less than three hours after the collapse of the World Trade Center. Sidley Austin later opened its permanent new office in the Equitable Center building on Seventh Avenue in July 2002.
In the 1920s, the firm was named Cutting, Moore & Sidley. Following a number of changes, it was known as Sidley & Austin for many years until it merged with the New York capital markets firm Brown & Wood in the 1990s. Its name was changed to Sidley Austin LLP on January 1, 2006.
- Clemente Akarmann, a partner in New York, is now a Chief Executive of Akarmann Capital Partners
- David A. Canales, judge of the 73rd Judicial District Court in Bexar County, Texas, began his legal career at Sidley Austin.
- James L. Connaughton Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) under President George W. Bush was a partner in Sidley Austin's Environmental Practice Group, covering a wide range of environmental policy issues.
- Christopher DeMuth, former president of the American Enterprise Institute, worked at the firm in the 1970s.
- Bernardine Dohrn, the former Weatherman leader.
- Alan Gura, litigator, represented Dick Heller in the United States Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller.
- Faith Jenkins, legal commentator for Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends, The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, Studio B with Shepard Smith, Happening Now, Fox Business Channel’s Lou Dobbs Forum, Your World with Neil Cavuto, Willis Report, HLN’s special report with Vinnie Politan, truTV’s In Session, among others
- Mike Lee, son of Rex E. Lee and current United States Senator from Utah.
- Rex E. Lee, former Solicitor General of the United States.
- Chris Lu, Cabinet Secretary and assistant to the President of the United States
- Newton Minow, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, was a partner in the Chicago office from 1965–1991 and continues to serve as senior counsel to the firm.
- U.S. President Barack Obama was a summer associate in the Chicago office, but never joined the firm as a full-time associate. He met his future wife, Michelle Obama (who was an associate at Sidley Austin at the time) during his time at the firm.
- David Otunga, graduate of Harvard Law School and presently a professional wrestler working with World Wrestling Entertainment.
- Daniel M. Price was appointed Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs by former U.S. President George W. Bush. In this role, Mr. Price served as the principal advisor to the President on international economic issues and was responsible for coordinating U.S. Administration policy on international trade and investment, foreign assistance to developing countries, and the international aspects of energy security and climate change. In 2009, he returned as a senior partner for global issues to the firm's Washington, D.C. office.
- David S. Tatel, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, began his legal career at Sidley Austin.
- John D. Zeglis, the former Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Wireless, was an associate (1973–1978) and partner (1978–1984) in the Chicago office, where he spent a significant amount of time helping AT&T navigate through the Federal Communications Commission's orders to breakup the company, before leaving to join AT&T as a corporate vice president.
- Chambers and Partners
- USNews/Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms"
- "FIRM PROFILES - Sidley Austin". Retrieved 2012-04-27.
- "Chicago." Sidley Austin. Retrieved on December 17, 2009.
- The 2011 Global 100: Most Revenue, The American Lawyer'
- Sidley Austin | The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
- 2 Jan 2012 The American Lawyer
- Sidley Austin LLP Employment: Vault Sidley Employment Snapshot
- Chambers and Partners: Search Chambers Global Guide
- Chambers and Partners: Chambers Global Guide Editorial
- Sidley Austin LLP's International Trade and Dispute Resolution Group Honored by Chambers and Partners
- The Legal 500 US recommends
- Sidley Austin LLP - Our Practice
- In Re 9/11: Law Firm Moves On, Still Recovering
- Rosemary Smith, 61, planned to open candy business
- Supreme Court Justices Pay Tribute to the Late Rex E. Lee
- Obama '85 masters balancing act from The Daily Princetonian
- Pang, David (2011-03-22). "David the Goliath". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- Senior White House International Economic Advisor Rejoins Sidley Austin LLP | Business Wire
- Official website
- Sidley Austin companies grouped at OpenCorporates
- See this firm's profile on Martindale.com