Sonya Olds Som is a partner in Heidrick & Struggles’ Chicago office focusing on Diversity Advisory Services. She provides both Heidrick & Struggles internally and its corporate clients with guidance and support in strengthening their organizations’ culture of diversity and inclusion by helping to position this as an integral component to conducting business successfully.
Before joining Heidrick & Struggles, Sonya was a partner at another global executive search firm. For nearly a decade, she was integrally involved with various areas of recruiting within the legal field including advising organizations on their legal recruiting needs with emphasis on diversity and inclusion, sourcing candidates, career counseling, business development and marketing. She was able to leverage a broad and deep professional network throughout the legal industry to help place candidates in senior positions including general counsel in global legal departments.
Previously, Sonya served for a decade as a labor & employment and immigration attorney at the associate and partner levels at various national, regional, and super regional law firms, nationwide, laying her foundational knowledge of and connections within the legal industry. During this time, in 2007, Sonya was named one of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s “40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch.”
Throughout her career, Sonya has been recognized for her deep expertise as a knowledgeable and influential insider in the law practice and legal recruiting arena, serving as an advocate for both clients and candidates. She routinely speaks nationally, writes frequently, and is quoted often on diversity and inclusion and related topics.
In 2019, Ms. JD recognized Sonya as a Woman of Inspiration in the Legal Profession and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association of New York is honoring her with its Presidential Award. In 2018, the National Bar Association’s General Counsel Invitational named Sonya its “Executive of the Year,” and the Hispanic National Bar Association presented her with its “Ally of the Year” award. In 2014, Sonya was included on Lawyers of Color’s Midwest Hotlist.
Sonya is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Georgia (though she is currently in inactive status in both states). She is a member of the American Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago, National Bar Association, Cornell Black Lawyers Alumni Network (Midwest Chapter Co-Chair), Hispanic National Bar Association, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and Metropolitan Black Bar Association of New York. Sonya is a member of the Advisory Board of HIGH PERFORMANCE COUNSEL (HPC). She is also an Emeritus member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women.
Education: Sonya earned her JD with a specialization in international legal affairs and concentration in business law from Cornell Law School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English with honors from Kalamazoo College.