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Sidley celebrates Black History Month with John Raji

By Sidley
Book open Reading time: 2 mins


What were your reasons for joining Sidley as a trainee solicitor?

Sidley stood out to me for its elite stature in the Big Law community and as a place that had amazing people with an even better culture. I was initially intrigued by the firm’s entrepreneurial strategy and appetite for expansion, with particular interest in the growing presence of its transactional practices. Completing the vacation scheme confirmed that Sidley was the firm for me — not only was I given access to high-quality work, but I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best legal minds in the profession. The first year of my training contract has exceeded my expectations, and I look forward to spending countless more years here.

How important are diversity, equity, and inclusion to the next generation of Sidley lawyers?

Earlier this year, I was given the opportunity to attend the 2022 Black Lawyers Retreat hosted in Los Angeles. It was a great chance to network with colleagues across the pond, hearing and learning about their different experiences. This retreat showed me that diversity, equity, and inclusion are of paramount importance to Sidley, with members of the Executive and Management Committees taking the time to attend the retreat and speak on those same issues.

In the London office, the commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident in the support given to the multiple affinity groups that I am involved with. Most recently, we launched the inaugural 21 Days of Ethnic Diversity challenge, an initiative focused on promoting a deeper understanding of race and how it relates to power and identity. I recently chaired one of these discussions and was pleasantly surprised at the openness amongst colleagues who were willing to discuss their experiences and demonstrated a clear understanding between one another’s backgrounds. To me, this shows that Sidley is a place that not only fosters an inclusive environment but facilitates an atmosphere where everyone can be their true authentic self.

What does celebrating Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month to me is an affirmation and appreciation of Blackness and how it relates to me and wider society at large. From a UK perspective, it is a period of time that allows me to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of many extraordinary Black Britons and rejoice in the fact that I, along with many others, am able to live life carefree thanks to the sacrifices of previous generations. This is also a time for reflection between the global diasporas, allowing us to fully appreciate the scale and reach of our different cultures worldwide, assessing how far we have come and valuing the mutual resilience that connects us as a people.