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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates (a.k.a. "Skadden, Arps", "Skadden", or "SASM&F"), founded in 1948, is a prominent law firm based in New York City. With over 2,000 attorneys, it is one of the largest and highest-grossing law firms in the world. In most jurisdictions, the firm is organized as a limited liability partnership (LLP). The firm's better-known alumni include former New York State Governor Elliot Spitzer.


Ranking among law firms by revenue

With US$2.17 billion in annual revenue, Skadden is the largest law firm in the U.S. in terms of revenue. The firm has held this position for ten years running and in 1999 became the first law firm to exceed US$1 billion in annual revenue. Its revenue also makes Skadden the third largest law firm in the world, behind two U.K. firms.

Ranking among law firms by number of attorneys

Skadden has over 2,000 attorneys in 23 offices. The total number of employees is nearly 4,500. In terms of the number of attorneys, Skadden is the largest law firm in the state of New York, the fifth largest in the United States, and the eighth largest in the world. Skadden ranks 225th on Forbes's list of the largest U.S.-based private companies.

In 2007, the National Law Journal ranked Skadden 5th in its list of the 250 largest law firms in the United States.

Despite its size, Skadden has been distinguished by its refusal to expand by mergers with other law firms or large acquisitions of practice groups. The firm has never acquired a practice group larger than six attorneys, in sharp contrast with rivals such as Baker & McKenzie, which has repeatedly absorbed local practices, or DLA Piper and Clifford Chance, which are the products of large mergers (often across national and continental borders). Consequently, charges of varying quality between offices of comparable-sized firms have been countered by Skadden's assertion that it has controlled the selection and training of its attorneys to match its domestic reputation.

Ranking among all private U.S. companies by revenue

Skadden's ranking on Forbes's list of America's Largest Private Companies consistently increased between 1995 and 2003 but fell from 2004 through 2006, with a one-place increase in 2007.

  • 2007 — 225th
  • 2006 — 226th
  • 2005 — 216th
  • 2004 — 205th
  • 2003 — 194th
  • 2002 — 200th
  • 2001 — 224th
  • 2000 — 230th
  • 1999 — 245th
  • 1998 — 269th
  • 1997 — 297th
  • 1996 — 310th
  • 1995 — 335th


In addition to its headquarters in New York — the largest single law office in the U.S. — Skadden's domestic practice is particularly renowned in its Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C., offices. Internationally, the firm also has particularly high-profile overseas practices in London, Frankfurt, Munich, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.

Famed for pioneering mergers and acquisitions (and hostile takeovers) in the American corporate environment, Skadden has played a significant role in U.S. and international business despite being far younger than many competing white shoe firms. Arguably the most recognizable law firm outside the legal industry, the firm is considered one of the most prestigious in the world, consistently ranking in the top five of Vault's annual list of the top law firms in the U.S. and boasting highly competitive foreign practices. The Skadden Fellowship, funded by the firm, is considered the most prestigious public-interest grant in the U.S. and is greatly sought-after by graduates of top law schools.

Among Skadden's main practice areas are mergers and acquisitions (M&A), litigation, securities law, taxation, and bankruptcy representation. The firm has counted a majority of the Fortune 500's top 50 companies as clients. Skadden has been selected for each of the past six years as the best corporate law firm in the U.S. according to a survey of 1,390 directors and 279 general counsel of publicly traded companies by Corporate Board Member magazine and FTI Consulting.

Although called a sweatshop by some, Skadden is also known for its generous attorney compensation. The salary for a first-year associate (i.e., fresh out of law school) is reported to be $160,000, not including the annual discretionary bonus.

Key people


As of May 2008, there are 470 partners at Skadden. Unlike some firms which have introduced two-tier partnerships with equity and non-equity partners, Skadden maintains a one-tier partnership, in which all partners are equity partners and share ownership of the firm. Among the more notable partners are:

  • Joseph H. Flom became the firm's first associate in 1948. Of the firm's five "name" partners, Flom is the only one still living. He is recognized as a pioneer in the field of mergers and acquisitions.
  • Robert C. Sheehan has held the position of Executive Partner, equivalent to a corporate chief executive officer (CEO), since 1994. He will step down when his third term ends in April 2009. The firm has had only one other executive partner, Peter Mullen.
  • Eric J. Friedman, a mergers and acquisitions partner in New York, will succeed Bob Sheehan as the firm's Executive Partner in April 2009.
  • Roger S. Aaron is the senior partner in charge of all of the firm's corporate practice areas.
  • William P. Frank is the firm's national litigation legal practice leader.
  • Robert S. Bennett has been called "One of the top white-collar criminal and corporate defense attorneys in the country" in a National Law Journal article titled "The 100 most influential lawyers in America". Bennett's clients have included Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones case and New York Times reporter Judith Miller in the CIA leak investigation.
  • Sheila Birnbaum is considered one of the nation's leading experts on toxic tort law. She has been named by Fortune magazine as one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business and by the National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America.
  • Bruce Buck, a partner based in London who oversees all European offices, is chairman of the Chelsea Football Club.
  • Preeta D. Bansal, former New York State Solicitor General and current member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, heads the firm's appellate litigation and complex legal issues practice.
  • Clifford (Mike) M. Naeve heads the firm's Energy Practice Group.
  • Paul Mitchard, a partner in the London office, is one of the few solicitors to be named Queen's Counsel, an honor typically granted to barristers.

Of Counsel

"Of counsel" are retired partners who maintain professional ties with the firm. As of May 2008, the firm has 36 of counsel, including:

  • Peter P. Mullen served as the firm's Executive Partner from 1981 to 1994.


Directors are non-attorneys who head the firm's support departments.

  • Earle Yaffa is the Managing Director (the highest-ranking non-partner), a position he has held since 1980.
  • Carol A. Sawdye is a Senior Director.
  • Laurel E. Henschel is a Senior Director and Chief Administrative Officer.
  • Noah J. Puntus is the Chief Financial Officer.
  • Harris Z. Tilevitz is Chief Technology Officer.
  • Peter E. Lesser is Director of Global Technology.
  • Jodie R. Garfinkel is the Director of Professional Personnel and Attorney Development
  • Sally J. Feldman is the Director of Marketing and Business Development.
  • Stephan J. Bell is the Director of Client Accounting.
  • Neil McNally is the Director of Business/Practice Analysis and Support.


  • 1948 — The firm was founded in New York by Marshall Skadden, John Slate and Les Arps.
  • 1954 — Joseph Flom became a partner.
  • 1959 — Bill Meagher (pronounced "mar", not "mee-gur") joined the firm. Elizabeth Head, the firm's first female attorney, was hired.
  • 1961 — The firm's name became Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
  • 1973 — The firm opened its Boston office, the firm's second.
  • 1981 — Peggy Kerr became the first female partner.
  • 1985 — Skadden became one of the U.S.'s three largest law firms.
  • 1987 — The firm opened its first international office in Tokyo.
  • 1988 — The firm founded the Skadden Fellowship Foundation.
  • 2000 — New York City headquarters moved to Four Times Square, also called the Condé Nast Building.


Skadden has 24 offices. The number in parentheses indicates the year the office opened.

North America

United States of America


South America



  • Beijing, China (1991)
  • Hong Kong, China (1989) — general partnership, not LLP
  • Singapore (1996) — general partnership, not LLP
  • Shanghai, China (2008)
  • Tokyo, Japan (1987) — Skadden Arps Gaikokuho Jimu Bengoshi Jimusho; Skadden Arps Law Office; Skadden Arps Foreign Law Office (Registered Associated Offices)


Closed offices

Former firm offices no longer in operation include

Practice areas

The firm specializes in the following areas of law:

Notable deals and cases

Recognition and rankings

  • Chambers and Partners selected Skadden as the Global Corporate law Firm of the Year for 2006.
  • In 2006, Corporate Board Member Magazine named Skadden the top corporate law firm in America, as selected by 1,390 directors of publicly traded companies. Skadden has held the top slot for six years.
  • Vault, Inc. ranked Skadden fourth on its "Top 100 Most Prestigious Firms – 2008", a survey which asked law firm associates to rank the prestige of various firms. The Vault survey also ranked nine of Skadden's individual practice areas among the nation's ten best: Antitrust (tie, 4th); Bankruptcy (3rd); Corporate (3rd); International Law (8th); Litigation (5th); Mergers & Acquisitions (2nd); Real Estate (3rd); Securities (3rd); Tax (2nd).
  • For 2007, Skadden was ranked #9 on the Avery Index list of the Best Prestigious Law Firms to Work For.
  • In the 2006 edition of Chambers USA, 147 Skadden attorneys are highlighted as leading lawyers - more attorneys than at any other firm.
  • According to Thomson Financial's third-quarter 2006 M&A Legal league tables, Skadden ranked first by value for worldwide announced deals.
  • Skadden was named "Global Law Firm of the Year" and "USA Corporate/M&A Law Firm of the Year" at the Chambers and Partners annual dinner on May 19 in London.
  • Skadden ranked first by volume and deal count in representing issuers of U.S. High Yield Offerings, with 10 deals worth US$5 billion, according to Bloomberg's Q3 2006 Legal Adviser League Tables published in October 2006.
  • The firm was nominated as the best U.S. trainer (amongst U.S. Law firms based in London, England) for trainee solicitors by

Skadden Fellowship Foundation

Through the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, the firm sponsors law school graduates who wish to practice public interest law. The foundation was established in 1988 at the time of the firm's 40th anniversary. The Los Angeles Times has called the program "a legal Peace Corps." Fellows work with a sponsoring organization in the field of providing legal services to the poor, the elderly, the homeless, the disabled, and the disenfranchised. Skadden pays fellows a salary of $46,000 (as of 2006), plus all fringe benefits the sponsoring organization offers its employees. As of 2006, the firm has awarded 473 fellowships.

Notable alumni

In addition to numerous professors and partners, both at Skadden and other firms, some of the more notable former Skadden attorneys include:

Controversies, scandals, and entanglements

Skadden Insider

The Skadden Insider was a fairly innocuous blog, with few posts and little revelation. The blog is purportedly operated by two associates of the firm, as yet anonymous. The Skadden Insider was little known until the operators decided to conduct a poll to crown the hottest female associate, with the hottest male associates, female partners, male partners, and summer associates to be selected in subsequent months. The blog's contest became very public after a memo to all of Skadden's U.S. attorneys from firm of counsel and employment advisor Hank Baer was leaked to the media. In the memo, Baer chastised the "insiders" for not upholding the firm's values and professionalism.

Mark L. Bronson

Mark L. Bronson, a real estate partner in Skadden's Tokyo office, died on November 21 2007, at Brisbane airport in Australia. Bronson suffered a seizure while being detained by customs officials on suspicion of cocaine possession. He had been stopped after drug-sniffing dogs raised suspicion. He reportedly also coughed up plastic in his vomit, suggesting he may have ingested a bag of cocaine to avoid being caught.

Political contributions

Skadden partners and employees tend to support and contribute more to Democratic political candidates than to Republicans.

Prominent lawyers at the firm endorsed and financially supported John Kerry in his campaign to become president of the United States in 2004.

In the run-up to Super Tuesday, 2008, Skadden hosted a phone bank in support of Barack Obama.

See also

Further reading

External links


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