2023 Vault Rankings
- Pro Bono#20
At a Glance
“High-quality work, collegial environment, and unqualified commitment to pro bono.”
“The compensation, prestige, and lateral exit opportunities.”
“The hours can be long/unpredictable at times, and the technology can be improved.”
“The promotion prospects are slim.”
Skadden is one of the most profitable and well-known law firms in the world. It was the first law firm to report $1 billion in annual revenue, now an industry brass ring. While the firm may be best known for its M&A prowess, it is an all-star across practice areas, boasting an army of about 1,700 lawyers around the globe.
If the Shoe Fits
Skadden was launched in 1948 by trio Marshall Skadden, Les Arps, and John Slate. Unlike many of the white shoe firms, Skadden wasn’t afraid to jump into proxy-fight work during the ’50s and ’60s, which set the stage for the hostile takeovers the firm handled in later years. Much of Skadden’s ethos can be attributed to Joe Flom, who started at Skadden six months after its 1948 founding. Flom participated in most of the major M&A deals of the ’70s and ’80s, establishing Skadden’s hard-nosed style and building a reputation for aggressive strategies. He also spearheaded the firm’s practice diversification efforts—Skadden now boasts top-notch practices in capital markets, tax, white collar defense, appellate and international arbitration, commercial litigation, securities litigation, products liability litigation, restructuring, antitrust, national security, intellectual property, and real estate, among countless others.
Brioche and Butter
Multifaceted as it is, Skadden’s forte is still M&A. Deals such as DuPont-Conoco, U.S. Steel-Marathon Oil, and—most notably—the 1989 takeover of RJR Nabisco launched Skadden into the top rung of American law firms. Skadden also represented Activision Blizzard on its $75 billion acquisition deal by Microsoft, the largest-ever technology deal and largest-ever gaming industry deal. It’s not surprising that Skadden became the first law firm to handle over $1 trillion in globally-announced M&A deals in a single year (2015). The firm is a mainstay atop Vault’s M&A ranking (consistently snagging the No. 2 spot) and is regularly ranked in the top tier for M&A by Chambers USA, Chambers Global, U.S. News–Best Lawyers, and The Legal 500.
Don’t be deceived by Skadden’s M&A foundation—the firm’s litigators are first rate. The firm has been named a finalist for General Litigation in the New York Law Journal’s Litigation Department of the Year. It has also held the top spot in Vault’s Securities Litigation ranking since 2011 and was named Law Firm of the Year for Mergers and Acquisitions Litigation and Securities Litigation in 2020 by U.S. News — Best Lawyers. The firm was also named among BTI Consulting Group’s 2020 Fearsome Foursome—going up against Skadden litigators isn’t for the faint of heart.
Skadden has also consistently ranked No. 1 for Tax in Vault’s rankings. The firm’s Tax group assists clients in resolving large, complex, and global tax controversies, as well as handling tax investigations and defending tax-related class actions and professional liability disputes.
Pro bono isn’t merely an afterthought at Skadden. In 2021, Skadden attorneys in the U.S. averaged 122 hours of pro bono work. Attorneys and professional staff at the firm have completed more than 2 million pro bono hours in the past 10 years, with 180,000 pro bono hours in 2021. All pro bono hours count toward the firm’s 1,800 billable hour target, which associates must meet to receive a bonus. According to the firm, Skadden utilizes a practice area model to drive efficiencies in its delivery of immigration-related pro bono legal services; as a result of the program’s success, plans are underway to launch other pro bono projects following this model. The firm also offers public interest externship programs with the Legal Aid Society of New York; Legal Aid Society of Washington, DC; and Lawyers Alliance for New York. In addition, Skadden is a member and was instrumental in the formation of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance.
Skadden will offer students the option to interview virtually and/or in-person.
In Summer 2021, our program was mostly administered virtually. Many offices offered summer associates the option of working in the office and/or participating in social events in or around the office. As in 2020, the remote component enabled us to offer a more intensive learning experience firmwide. Elements of our incoming associate training program were presented by Skadden attorneys to teach fundamental skills of successful Skadden lawyers. Summer associates worked on client assignments and pro bono matters, including those focused on COVID-relief initiatives and the fight against systemic racism. Relationships with attorneys were fostered through virtual and in-person events—Mentor Mondays, Wellness Wednesdays, demonstrations, affinity group events, viewing parties and “Skadclass” courses taught by Skadden attorneys on a wide array of passions and hobbies.
News & Awards
- Activision Blizzard on its $75 billion acquisition by Microsoft, the largest-ever technology deal and largest-ever gaming industry deal.
- Successfully represented Altria, Inc. in securing a complete victory in an IRS dispute related to a $9.3 million tax refund.
- Odyssey Acquisition S.A., a SPAC, on its €1.5 billion combination with BenevolentAI. This is the biggest European de-SPAC to date and one of the largest-ever Euronext Amsterdam biotech listings.
- DuPont in its $130 billion merger with Dow Chemical (one of history’s largest mergers), including securing clearance by the DOJ and approvals from the EU, China’s Ministry of Commerce and several other jurisdictions.
- Johnson & Johnson in successfully defending against $5 billion in damages claims in a suit claiming the company’s baby powder caused ovarian cancer.
- Xiaomi in its $5.4 billion IPO and listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange — the first-ever Hong Kong offering to adopt a dual-class share structure and the first to list under a new regime for innovative technology companies.
- Amazon.com, Inc. in a victory in one of the largest transfer pricing cases in decades and the first involving e-commerce. In rejecting the IRS' attempt to assert over a billion dollars of additional tax liability, the U.S. Tax Court ruled that the government's approach was "arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable."
- U.S. News — Best Lawyers 2022 Law Firm of the Year for both Mergers & Acquisitions Litigation and Securities Litigation.
- Ranked among the top 10 in The American Lawyer’s A-List of the 20 most successful firms. The list considers numerous factors, including revenue per lawyer, pro bono work, associate satisfaction and racial and gender diversity among the partnership.
- Winner of the New York Law Journal’s 2021 Litigation Department of the Year competition.
- Skadden was once again a leader in having the most Law360 MVPs – and over the last five years, the Firm has had the most women MVPs among all law firms.
- Skadden was again named one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, having received a 100% score on the 2022 Corporate Equality Index.
One Manhattan West
New York, NY 10001-8602
Phone: (212) 735-3000
Executive Partner: Eric J. Friedman
Hiring Partner: Gavin A. White
Total No. Attorneys (2022):
1.5K - 2K
No. of Partners Named 2022:
No. of U.S. Offices: 8
No. of International Offices: 13
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY (HQ)
Palo Alto, CA
Wilmington, DE | Beijing