2024 Vault Rankings
- Pro Bono#26
- New York#4
At a Glance
“Complex, high-profile work with brilliant colleagues.”
“Firm culture, perks, prestige, quality of work/big name deals.”
“They treat us very well, not just in terms of compensation but in terms of respect, training, and mentorship.”
“The hours are demanding and constant, and it doesn't seem like it gets better as the years go on.”
“Unpredictability of workload.”
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 nearly 1,700 lawyers around the globe.
If the Shoe Fits
Skadden was launched in 1948 by the 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, private equity, antitrust, tax, web3/digital assets, white collar defense, appellate and international arbitration, commercial litigation, securities litigation, products liability litigation, restructuring, 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 has been repeatedly named Law Firm of the Year for Mergers and Acquisitions Litigation and Securities Litigation by U.S. News — Best Lawyers. The firm has also been named among BTI Consulting Group’s Fearsome Foursome 11 times, most recently in 2022—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 and was named Law Firm of the Year for Tax in 2023 by U.S. News — Best Lawyers. 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 2022, Skadden attorneys in the U.S. averaged 122 hours of pro bono work. Attorneys and professional staff at the firm have completed nearly 2 million pro bono hours in the past ten years, with more than 185,000 pro bono hours in 2022. 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; the Legal Aid Society of Washington, DC; and the Lawyers Alliance for New York. In addition, Skadden is a member and was instrumental in the formation of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance.
News & Awards
- Activision Blizzard on its $75 billion acquisition by Microsoft, the largest-ever technology deal and largest-ever gaming industry deal.
- The PGA Tour in defeating a crucial TRO in the LIV Golf dispute.
- DuPont in its $130 billion merger with Dow Chemical (one of the largest-ever mergers), including securing clearance by the DOJ and approvals from the EU, China and several other jurisdictions.
- Johnson & Johnson in successfully defending against $5 billion in damages claims in a suit alleging 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 $1 billion of additional tax liability, the U.S. Tax Court ruled that the government's approach was "arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable."
- Practice Groups of the Year, More Practices Recognized Than Any Other Firm: Capital Markets, Energy, Fintech, Media & Entertainment, M&A, Product Liability, Real Estate, Sports & Betting, Tax and Technology, 2022—Law360
- A-List, Top Ten Most Successful Firms, 2022—The American Lawyer
- Mansfield Rule Certified Plus, 2022—Diversity Lab
- Best Law Firms for Women, 2022—Seramount
- Leaders Board, Pulse: Top Five Firm for Prestige, Social Impact and Practice Footprint, 2022—Law360
One Manhattan West
New York, NY 10001-8602
Phone: (212) 735-3000
Executive Partner: Eric J. Friedman
Hiring Partner: Steven R. Glaser
Total No. Attorneys (2023):
1.5K - 2K
No. of Partners Named 2023:
Base Salary (2023)
1st year: $ 215,000
2nd year: $225,000
3rd year: $250,000
4th year: $295,000
5th year: $345,000
6th year: $370,000
7th year: $400,000
8th year: $415,000
Summer Associate: $4,134.62
Associate Director of Attorney Recruiting
No. of U.S. Offices: 8
No. of International Offices: 13
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY (HQ)
Palo Alto, CA
Wilmington, DE |
Energy and Infrastructure Projects
Executive Compensation and Benefits
Government Enforcement and White Collar Crime
Intellectual Property and Technology
Intellectual Property Litigation
International Litigation and Arbitration
Labor and Employment Law
Mass Torts, Insurance, and Consumer Litigation
Mergers and Acquisitions
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.