Vault and Firsthand have combined platforms! Learn more

cross

Overview

Introduction

From M&A to Tax, Skadden is a legal powerhouse and mainstay among the most prestigious firms in Vault’s Top 100 ranking. Skadden lawyers are a social bunch who value teamwork and mentorship, while also diving headfirst into complex matters. 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 ar...

Firm Stats


More

Total No. Attorneys (2021)


More

No. of Partners Named (2021)


More

Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100...


More

No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2020)



More

No. of Summer Associates (2021)



More

Base Salary

All offices...

Vault Verdict

Seeking the very best candidates, Skadden has a competitive hiring process that focuses on finding well-rounded candidates who are confident and high achieving and also collaborative and respectful. The firm has implemented a more structured interview process, including more behavioral questions, to combat implicit bias. Skadden is a social place where lawyers enjoy spending time with each other both during and after work hours, and even throughout the pandemic, the firm has maintained these social connections through virtual events. Associate development is a priority at the firm, and associates feel supported by the partnership—opportunities for mentorship abound. The firm also offers an entry-level training program called ACE and provides new associates with a partner and senio...

About the Firm

 

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 m...

Associate Reviews


  • “Prior to the pandemic, lawyers socialized at least a couple times a month. Day to day, the atmosphere was very friendly, and many of my good friends are fellow associates in my office. Interactions are typically cordial and friendly.”
  • “Lawyers and staff frequently socialize after hours, which makes working productively together much easier. It creates an environment where you can clearly communicate about assignments and aren't afraid to ask questions or ask for extensions when necessary.”
  • “Skadden offers a social environment that pairs intellect and energy with personal warmth. The lawyers and staff here genuinely enjoy spending time with one another, and that social environment allows transaction teams to work long hours together comfortably and effectively when client needs demand it.”
  • “Before the pandemic, I would have lunch with my co-workers/friends almost every day. People are interested in socializing, and I find them to be authentic and collegial. We would also have social events for special occasions and holidays quite frequently, at least once or twice a month.”
  • “… I have been working remotely from the start. I do, however, socialize with many Skadden attorneys to the extent possible, be it through virtual lunches or firm-sponsored social events. I feel that firm integration is happening as best as it can under the circumstances.”
  • “Skadden's mentorship program allows associates to form close relationships with their partner mentors. As one would expect, treatment varies partner-to-partner, but generally, most partners treat associates with respect (yelling is almost unheard of). Unfortunately, leadership is not transparent re: firm performance and finances, but the review system is great (there are multiple review periods per year, and people do give helpful feedback).”
  • “The partners at Skadden take the time to get to know the associates they work with and care about their training and development. Associate development is a major focus for the firm and it pays off.”
  • “Overall, I have pretty good working relationships with the partners I work with. Particularly as I have become more senior, they seem more willing to solicit my thinking and include me in important meetings/calls/discussions. We have performance reviews at least once a year, and they are conducted by one of the partners in your practice group.”
  • “In general, the firm's partnership is very respectful of associates. The individual attitude of specific partners, however, varies significantly with personality. The firm is not very transparent with its decision-making—the reasons behind the firms' decisions [are] never shared with associates, and associates generally only learn of significant decisions after they have been
  • “The work in my group either pours down or is barely a trickle, but that's just how our industry works, so not a reflection of Skadden. I have extraordinary flexibility in my group and am lucky that the partner I mainly work for is very fair and tries to spread the work around evenly and advocates for our bonuses. Skadden's 1,800-hour requirement, inclusive of all the pro bono hours you can get done without interfering with billable work, is about the lowest and fairest you will ever find in BigLaw. When attorneys at other firms find out, jaws drop.”
  • “The workload ebbs and flows—sometimes [it] feels like too much and other times it is slower. Flexibility has been great, particularly since working from home. I think work could be a little more evenly distributed at times, but the firm's billable-hour requirement is very reasonable.”
  • “The work hours are very unpredictable and can be extremely long, but nothing out of what is to be expected. While it can be overwhelming, the support from senior attorneys to understand and get everything done has been very helpful.”
  • “I'm more likely to bill 5 hours or 13 than I am 8. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but depending on what's going on, [it] can be hard to maintain that beautiful consistency. The 1,800-hour billable hour requirement isn't bad. Unlimited pro bono (for which there is almost unlimited opportunity) and 100 hours of shadowing/business-development-type stuff give you a cushion for the fluctuations of the market.”
  • “The compensation is lockstep and very transparent in terms of bonuses and base salary. The firm matches special bonuses announced by other major firms.”
  • “I am very pleased with my compensation and the two COVID bonuses the firm has provided (in December 2020 and now again in 2021 in two installments).”
  • “I am satisfied to the extent that I have been compensated since starting work. However, due to the delay in our start date, the class of 2020 missed out on tens of thousands of dollars; whereas, peers at other firms did not.”
  • “The pay is nice, and the hours requirement is easily attainable when you factor in how an unlimited amount of pro bono can be counted towards our requirement. Usually, when work is slow, there's always plenty of pro bono work for me to turn to.”
  • “Skadden expects junior associates to complete substantive work in their first days at the firm. It was very exciting for me to complete our team's first drafts of SEC filings immediately on joining the group. Junior lawyers who joined Skadden to work on the highest-profile matters and the most exciting situations will not be disappointed, and the firm rewards initiative from its junior associates who relish the challenge of interesting work.”
  • “I do most of the heavy lifting for some of my deals. That involves sending update emails to the client, being involved in all drafting sessions, answering any questions that come through whether they are from the accountants or the client on the deal, drafting most of the documents (underwriting agreement, lock-up agreement, etc.), taking a first stab at edits, drafting opinions and negative assurance letters, and negotiating with opposing counsel. That's not the case for all deals, where I will do some of the more entry-level work of circle-ups, updating checklists, project administration and circulating dial-ins. Either way, it all seems substantive, and even reading other associates' emails and how they communicate is a learning experience.”
  • “I am often given then chance to tackle assignments beyond what I would consider normal for a mid-level associate, including taking ownership of solo-deals. The resources of Skadden are always there and available, and the partners want you to exceed.”
  • “I'm given a lot of responsibility as a senior associate to run projects mostly on my own, when appropriate. But I do feel supported by the partners when I need it.”
  • “[The] firm went above and beyond in provisioning us for WFH. I basically have a full second office at home (laptop, two screens, cell phone, desk phone, printer, supplies). The IT team seems really responsive to attorney requests for new features.”
  • “Skadden's technological platform has allowed me to feel that starting at the firm remotely has been comfortable. In addition to an arsenal of research resources, the firm's database makes it easy to access the lawyers who worked on past deals to track down precedent documents. Further, the 24/7 technology support team is extremely knowledgeable and hospitable. The Operations Group provides proofreading and graphics services on a remote basis and allows me to work more efficiently, especially during the busiest periods. Further, Skadden has research lawyers on staff to provide trainings, as well as specific research for client matters.”
  • “Webex isn't great, but we have a great tech support infrastructure who can always help.”
  • “It's been an easy transition to remote working, and the firm has done an excellent job in adopting practices/virtual meetings so that we feel like we are part of an office/getting to see our colleagues and know what they're working on.”
  • “We get weekly emails concerning virtual wellness events like mindfulness mediation, sound baths, and yoga classes. The firm even sent us blenders and gift cards to buy ingredients for a smoothie class that was offered.”
  • “There are plenty of programs and other events that we are made aware of. It is difficult to make time for this programming, however.”
  • “During our initial training as first years it was evident that Skadden cared about wellness. At least once a week, there was a wellness training session whether it was making a smoothie and talking about nutrition, a workout session or a yoga session, a mental health session, or a meditation session. Skadden is a part of the ABA Well-Being Pledge & Campaign and has started their own initiative, ’Live Well Work Well’ that highlights emotional well-being, financial well-being, physical well-being, and social well-being. Skadden has various book clubs and exercise clubs that attorneys can participate in. Additionally, Skadden has a brand new gym in our new offices in Hudson Yards that is easily accessible for all attorneys.”
  • The firm has wellness initiatives; however, it is always necessary to keep in mind that this is a business and client needs will always prevail.”
  • “Unparalleled training opportunities. There are always training sessions (on top of the initial training received by new associates). All junior associates can use up to 100 ‘shadowing’ hours towards their bonus, even though those hours don't get billed to the client. This allows young associates to attend calls and meetings that they would probably be asked to skip if the client is cost-conscious.”
  • “Skadden has a number of formal trainings that I think prepare us well for the work we do, but I have also really loved and found useful our informal mentorship programs. Our general culture makes ample attorney feedback more or less an expectation, particularly when it comes to new associates.”
  • “There's the ACE program at the start of your first year which is an in-depth three-week training on how to use the firm's resources, on what type of documents we work with and what everything means. It's not as helpful for people in niche practice areas, but it's helpful for a broad overview. After ACE, we're each given an associate and partner mentor who we have weekly chats with and who generally give us our first few assignments and provide a lot of guidance and feedback along the way.”
  • “On joining the M&A group, I received trainings on aspects of the M&A process and contracts led by senior attorneys on a weekly basis. Just as the firm's most-senior lawyers prioritize the M&A simulation during the summer program, devoting substantial time to it, so too do the partners and senior associates pride themselves on leading trainings for the newest Skadden lawyers. These trainings are practical and have already proven useful in my first weeks at the firm.”
  • “I think partnership is available to associates who consistently perform well and want to make partner but not available to anyone who may want to make partner. I feel very good about potential exit opportunities based on having experience at Skadden.”
  • “Promotion to partnership is a long shot for anyone, even those who excel within their group, as the firm elects [fewer] than 20 partners each year, and some of them come laterally. It's not really clear what it takes to become a partner beyond the common wisdom of doing good work and maintaining good relationship with staff/colleagues.”
  • “Partnership is possible, though challenging, as is expected. Senior associates can also turn to non-partner roles on a case-by-case basis. The exit opportunities at Skadden are virtually unlimited. If very hard to beat a resume that says ‘Skadden New York.’”
  • “Partnership is not realistic for most. But using firm experience to leverage a partner position at another firm is fairly common practice. There are many wonderful exit opportunities. The firm will help you find an in-house or government position, and lots of firms actively recruit from Skadden.”
  • “Skadden has a very generous pro bono policy. It's often repeated that a commitment to pro bono is a ‘Joe Flom value,’ meaning that its etched into the identity of the firm.”
  • “The firm has a strong commitment to pro bono work. Pro bono hours count as billable hours with no limit. The firm has a very strong immigration pro bono program, and I work on immigration pro bono matters frequently.There is plenty of opportunity for pro bono work.”
  • “Skadden does a great job promoting pro bono work. Skadden has their own dedicated team of pro bono attorneys and has created multiple different pro bono programs relating to immigration, excessive policing, housing, and many more. As a summer, each summer is given the opportunity to work on a pro bono project if they choose to. Additionally, as an incoming first year, the pro bono program is highlighted throughout our training programs. …”
  • “The pro bono practice is strong and works quickly to get the attorneys on pro bono projects when requested. I am working on multiple immigration cases. There are plenty of guidance and trainings offered to help get attorneys started with pro bono work, and even the trainings go toward our billable-hour requirement.”
  • “[The] firm seems to really take it seriously and prioritize it.”
  • “Skadden has many active diversity initiatives. Additionally, Skadden has 11 affinity networks for all different groups. I think Skadden does a particularly good job of [moving] forward women's initiatives by not only creating a Women's Affinity Network but also creating a Global Women's Initiatives Committee to help advance women's initiatives within Skadden. Skadden offers billable credit for diversity-related work/activities as well.”
  • “Our recruiting team is terrific, and we get very diverse classes in the door. Retention is a challenge. We do get credit for some hours related to diversity hiring and activities.”
  • “Generally, BigLaw has a problem with racial and ethnic diversity. The firm has made strides to remedy that, but there's still a long way to go.”

Why Work Here


The key to Skadden’s success is the strength of our team globally. We are committed to hiring, developing and empowering high-performing attorneys whose diverse backgrounds, perspectives and experiences provide an important advantage in our ability to deliver innovative solutions to our clients. We invite you to learn more about opportunities at our firm for law students and graduates.

Diversity at Skadden

"Skadden's commitment to foster a diverse and inclusive environment is fundamental to our firm's values. Our global diversity and inclusion (D&I) mission is to hire, develop and empower highly performing attorneys whose diverse backgrounds, perspectives and experiences provide an important advantage in our ability to deliver excellent service and innovative solutions to our clients. During the 2L hiring season each year, we conduct on-campus interviews or résumé collections at more than three dozen U.S. law schools or..."

Getting Hired Here


  • “The firm looks at law school, grades, and personality. It hires heavily from T14 schools and also the top students from lower-ranked schools. The firm seems to favor candidates who are confident and self-assured.”
  • “Law school attended is very important. ... Once you pass the law school/grades mark, you also have to be compatible with firm culture. The firm trains everyone on interviewing and also does implicit bias training.”
  • “Our firm focuses on well-rounded candidates—they must, of course, be extremely intelligent, motivated, and high achieving, but we also value individuals who understand the value of teamwork and treat others with respect.”
  • “The firm is selective in who it hires. It values DE&I and invests in its 1L hiring program. …”
  • “They've gotten better at this recently. More behavioral interviewing questions, and we are all encouraged to ask the same set of questions to each candidate to avoid bias.”
  • “Skadden wants to get to know you: what interests you, where you have worked in the past, [and the] most interesting case you've worked on in law school.”
  • “The firm gauges not only your work ethic but also your personality and social efficacy. We want candidates that are strong workers who will deliver quality work product (and who aren't apprehensive about the long hours) but also candidates who the associates, counsel and partner want to work with. If you can convince me that you're someone I want to have on my team because you will work hard and be pleasant to work with, I will recommend hiring you.”
  • “What was [insert piece of your writing mentioned in your resume] about? What was it like at [internship]? Why Skadden?”

Practice Area Q&A’s


Julia K. York

Partner

Skadden
Laura Kaufmann Belkhayat

Partner

Skadden
Steven J. Matays

Partner

Skadden
Graham Robinson

Partner

Skadden
Scott Muscoff

Practice Leader, Co-Deputy Head

Skadden

Perks & Benefits