The subject for investigation in this note is concerned with strongly homotopy (SH) Lie algebras, also known as $L_\infty$-algebras, or $L_\infty[1]$-algebras. We extract an intrinsic character, the Atiyah class, when a smaller $L_\infty[1]$-algebra $A$ is extended to a bigger one $L$. In fact, we establish that given such an SH Lie pair $(L,A)$, and any $A$-module $E$, there associates a canonical cohomology class, the Atiyah class $[\alpha^E]$, living in $H^2_{\mathrm{CE}}(A, A^\perp\otimes End(E))$, which generalizes earlier known Atiyah classes out of Lie algebra pairs. In particular, the quotient space $L/A$ is a canonical $A$-module and there associates the Atiyah class $[\alpha^{L/A}]\in H^2_{\mathrm{CE}}(A, Hom(L/A\otimes L/A,L/A))$.
The nature of such classes is that they induce on $H^\bullet_{\mathrm{CE}}(A,L/A[-2])$ a Lie algebra structure, and on $H^\bullet_{\mathrm{CE}}(A,E[-2])$ a Lie algebra module structure. An alternative point of view is that the process of taking Atiyah classes defines a functor from the category of $A$-modules to the category of $H^\bullet_{\mathrm{CE}}(A,L/A[-2])$-modules. Moreover, Atiyah classes are invariant under gauge equivalent $A$-compatible infinitesimal deformations of $L$.