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Skadden’s commitment to foster a diverse and inclusive environment is fundamental to our values. The firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices are squarely focused on debiasing, promoting inclusive leadership and ensuring that everyone has equal access to the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive. Our DEI efforts are intended to benefit all attorneys, in a way that fosters an environment in which they can be their authentic selves.

These efforts are led by the firm’s Global DEI Committee. Comprised of partners from throughout the firm, the committee is dedicated to developing, introducing and supporting policies, programs and initiatives that achieve equity at the firm and foster an inclusive workplace through attorney recruitment outreach; talent development, retention and promotion; and championing occasions of importance. In addition, the committee monitors existing policies and practices to ensure they are consistent with, and actively promote, DEI within the firm.

The Global DEI Committee works closely with local office diversity committees in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Each local committee is chaired by a partner and supported by our global DEI Department. Additionally, the firm’s Global Women’s Initiatives Committee functions within the ambit of our worldwide DEI initiatives. Comprised of women and men partners of varying seniority from numerous offices, it focuses on advancing gender equity across the firm.

We strive to recruit and develop high-performing attorneys whose diverse experiences and perspectives enrich our culture and position us to provide clients with the most innovative solutions. DEI is fundamental to our success as a global law firm, giving us a wealth of different perspectives from which to address our clients’ most pressing issues across a wide spectrum of industries, geographies and cultures.

Programs that allow us to increase and promote DEI throughout the firm include:

Skadden 1L Scholars Program
The Skadden 1L Scholars Program was one of the first 1L diversity programs to provide students with valuable exposure to law firm, corporate in-house and pro bono practice, for the “ultimate summer experience.” Established in 2012, the summer internship program typically includes several weeks at our firm, a rotation at an in-house legal department and experience handling pro bono matters.

In recent years, the firm updated the compensation structure of our program to include up to $50,000 in scholarships: $25,000 upon returning to Skadden for a full 2L summer and $25,000 upon joining the firm as a first-year associate. In addition, 1L Scholars are paid $4,134.62 per week, and students attending schools located in different cities are reimbursed for their travel expenses at the beginning and end of the summer. To date, Skadden has welcomed more than 320 1L Scholars. In 2024, we hired 47 1L Scholars from over a dozen top law schools.

2L Campus Recruiting
Separately, during the 2L hiring season each year, we work with and sponsor programming for approximately 30 law student affinity groups at more than 20 law schools. Our high-impact interactions support our efforts related to recruitment outreach and help broaden our pool of applicants, and we look forward to continuing the trend in summer 2024.

Pipeline Programs
Skadden is invested in law school pipeline efforts such as the Honors Program in Legal Studies at the City College of New York, which we co-founded in 2009. This program has prepared more than 250 CCNY students for law school admission, with more than 100 having already graduated or matriculated. We also participate in the SEO Corporate Law Program, hosting 10 law students at five Skadden offices last year.

Career Sponsorship Program
Launched in 2017, Skadden’s Career Sponsorship Program pairs partners (sponsors) with high-performing associates and counsel (protégés) who demonstrate a commitment to DEI and would benefit from a sponsor. The program offers sponsors and protégés opportunities to forge and sustain connections through client work and other interactions, and protégés gain access to self-assessment and career planning tools, as well as one-on-one coaching.

Women’s Leadership Forum
In 2023, we welcomed our 17th and 18th cohorts of the Skadden Women’s Leadership Forum, a program offered to high-performing women senior associates and counsel. It provides leadership training, individual coaching and peer networking to support professional development.

Mansfield Rule
For three consecutive years (2021-23), the firm received Mansfield Rule Certification and Mansfield Plus Certification. Mansfield Rule Certification requires that slates for consideration for promotions, lateral partner and senior associate hiring, and certain committee appointments — as well as participation in formal new business pitches — include at least 30% attorneys who identify with underrepresented groups.

Affinity Networks
Our affinity networks are open to all attorneys. They facilitate relationship-building and provide an additional forum for professional and leadership development. The networks also play a key role in the firm’s attorney mentoring, workplace inclusion and social responsibility objectives. Through the networks, our attorneys help create programming and opportunities that impact communities and address issues important to the network members. Skadden supports internal conferences in which the firmwide members of each network are invited to gather for two days of community-building and professional development.

We currently have 10 affinity networks, including Asian Pacific Islander (API), Black Lawyers for Diversity (BLD), FAM (Parents), First Gen, LatinX, LGBTQ+, Middle Eastern & North African (MENA), South Asian, SkadVets (Military Veterans) and Women’s Initiatives. In 2023, 59% of U.S. attorneys belonged to an affinity group, and 25% of attorneys belonged to two or more.

As important as the programs and initiatives outlined above are to our success, we believe that equally as important is the work we do to assess the impact of our DEI efforts by measuring and monitoring key statistics and metrics around hiring, promotion, work allocation, attrition, feedback and performance appraisals. We also continue to measure the impact of our initiatives based on the feedback we solicit through periodic focus groups and engagement surveys of all attorneys, affinity networks and professional staff about professional development, communication and firm culture, and specifically about diversity, inclusion and belonging.


Skadden is consistently recognized for its commitment to DEI. Recent examples include:

  • For the 14th time, named one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and received a 100% score on the 2023 Corporate Equality Index.
  • In 2023, received the Women in Law Empowerment Forum’s Gold Standard Certification for the 13th consecutive year, awarded to “law firms that have integrated women into the highest leadership positions in the firm.”
  • Recognized among the firms with the highest representation of Black attorneys by The American Lawyer Diversity Scorecard.
  • Inaugural law firm winner of NAACP Legal Defense Fund Equal Justice Award for our work and partnership with LDF.
  • Earned Mansfield Rule Certification Plus for three consecutive years.