Chicago-based Sidley Austin, one of the nation’s largest and most lucrative law firms, announced today that it has revised its forced arbitration policy and will no longer require associates, summer associates, or non-attorney staff members to sign forced arbitration clauses.
Sidley’s statement: “Sidley revised its policy and does not require associates to sign arbitration agreements. The Firm does not require summer associates or non-attorney staff members to sign arbitration agreements.”
— Pipeline Parity Project (@PipelineParity) November 28, 2018
Following Kirkland & Ellis’s announcement on November 21 that it will no longer force associates into arbitration, Sidley is the latest law firm to drop the requirement that their employees must sign away their rights as a condition of employment.
“We’re really pleased that firms like Sidley Austin recognize that dropping forced arbitration is the right thing to do for all of their employees,” said Vail Kohnert-Yount, a Harvard Law student. “Hopefully, the lawyers at these firms will also rethink compelling these types of coercive contracts on behalf of their clients, because it’s obvious that forced arbitration impedes access to justice.”
Like other firms that used forced arbitration, including Kirkland & Ellis and DLA Piper, Sidley did not respond initially to a survey issued by over 50 law schools earlier this year regarding forced arbitration. Due to outcry from students, faculty, and the legal community at large, several major firms have dropped forced arbitration clauses from their contracts, most recently Kirkland & Ellis.
But other firms, such as Cooley; DLA Piper; Drinker Biddle & Reath; Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear; Paul Hastings; Stoel Rives; and Varnum, are persisting with their policies of forcing employees to sign mandatory arbitration contracts—at least for now. The Pipeline Parity Project is asking our peers: Don’t interview with any firm that makes any of its employees sign these coercive contracts.