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Culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and bodily ability have never been irrelevant to us. We’ve always embraced the idea that a wide spectrum of diversity only make us better. We don’t want to all look or think the same. When we share our differences — our own experiences, perspectives and ideas — we learn more, grow more, go farther and find solutions for client problems that we may not have discovered otherwise.

Our goal of recruiting and retaining the best people for Skadden requires commitment. We know you’ve worked hard to get to this stage of your career. We continue to focus our energy on making the firm a place where you will flourish because of your unique imprint — not in spite of it. To further our commitment, in 2020, we adopted the Mansfield Rule, which 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% people of color, women, LGBTQ+ attorneys or attorneys with disabilities.

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Objectives

Our People. We strive to achieve and maintain a globally diverse firm of professionals through hiring, retention and professional development programs.

Our Workplace. We endeavor to foster a work environment of respect and inclusion so that our attorneys and staff are able to perform at the peak of their abilities.

Our Community. We promote a culture of shared responsibility for our continued progress and engage as a leader among firms in advancing diversity in the legal profession and the broader community.

Developing successful, thriving and engaged attorneys is the cornerstone of our DEI initiative. The array of development and engagement resources for associates and counsel includes, but is not limited to:

  • Career Sponsorship Program, launched in 2017, provides a framework to help partners (sponsors) and associates and counsel (protégés), including women, attorneys of color and LGBTQ+ attorneys, forge and sustain connections through client work and other interactions that impact each protégé's continued high performance, development, visibility, client exposure and career progression. Protégés also have access to tools for self-assessment and career planning as well as one-on-one executive coaching. The pilot phase of the program included 17 sponsor-protégé pairs in our U.S. offices. The program expanded in 2019 and now includes 28 sponsor-protégé pairs;
  • Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF), for high-performing women counsel and senior associates, provides several months of workshops and individualized coaching focused on leadership development. Since the program’s inception in 2013, more than 100 women attorneys have participated, and 42 percent of the participants who have completed the program have been promoted to partner or counsel;
  • Women Midlevel Associates Conference, first introduced in 2017 for U.S.-based associates, hosts panel presentations by Skadden partners and alumnae on professional skills and client development, with a focus on cultivating a renewed sense of community among women in various firm offices. The firm hosted our second conference in 2019 for associates from our Americas, Europe and Asia offices; and
  • Inclusion and leadership education for leaders and contributors at all levels, on topics such as racial equity, identifying and interrupting unconscious bias, leading inclusive teams, developing cross-cultural awareness, and fostering belonging and allyship.

Our Affinity Networks

The firm sponsors affinity networks for attorneys who self-identify as women, people of color, LGBTQ+, military veterans and/or parents, as well as for allies to those communities. These networks facilitate relationship-building among attorneys and provide a forum in which valuable mentoring opportunities may develop and flourish. Our affinity networks foster communication with firm leadership and play a key role in the firm's ongoing efforts regarding law student recruitment, associate mentoring and peer networking, career development, client engagement, workplace inclusion, retention and community involvement. The networks meet regularly and discuss topics relevant to their communities, practice areas, professional experiences and personal interests. Meetings vary from casual conversations to structured programs featuring guest speakers, movie screening and book readings.

Law Student Outreach

We recruit at numerous schools to attract talented law students of all backgrounds. The firm regularly partners with and sponsors law student organizations such as the Asian-Pacific American Law Students Association, Black Law Students Association, Latinx Law Student Association, OUTLaws, and veterans' and women's law student associations on campuses across the United States.

Skadden 1L Scholars Program

The Skadden 1L Scholars Program has provided an 11-week summer offering comprised of law firm, corporate in-house and public interest experiences for 1L students with a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion. The program seeks to provide the ultimate first summer experience with broad exposure, even beyond big law. To ensure this, we've expanded the 1L Scholar Pro Bono Impact Project, which matches our 1L Scholars with public interest organizations focused on addressing critical legal issues in our communities, domestically and abroad, that spark a personal interest, such as immigration and asylum, equal justice, voting rights, natural disaster relief or police accountability.

The program attracts talented, self-motivated law students, including candidates whose life experiences, demonstrated interests and achievements can contribute to the firm’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and excellence. Many of our 1L Scholars return to the firm after their 2L year as summer associates, and nearly half return to the firm as associates.

Pre-Law Pipeline

Skadden is dedicated to promoting diversity within the greater legal profession, beginning with the pipeline of students entering law school. The firm is a proud supporter of a number of organizations dedicated to increasing the pipeline of diverse law students, including Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), Legal Outreach, the Judicial Intern Opportunity Program (for second-year law students in Houston), Boston Lawyers Group (which provides recruitment and advancement opportunities to diverse law students in the greater Boston legal community) and Howard High School of Technology's Legal Administrative Assistant Career Program, in Wilmington.


Skadden is consistently recognized for its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Recent examples include:

  • For the 11th time in 12 years, named one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and received a 100 percent on the 2020 Corporate Equality Index.
  • In 2020, Skadden awarded the Women in Law Empowerment Forum's Gold Standard Certification for the 10th consecutive year, given to "law firms that have integrated women into the highest leadership positions in the firm."
  • Received the Asian American Bar Association of New York’s 2020 Law Firm Diversity Award.
  • Selected by Visa as a 2017 All Star Firm for exemplifying the company's values of "high-quality work, responsiveness and commitment to diversity.
  • Received the Ministry of Defence Silver Award under the U.K. Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, demonstrating our commitment and support of the armed forces in our London office.
  • Recognized as both a 2019 Top Performer and a 2019 Compass Award winner at the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Earning both recognitions signals our commitment to building a more diverse organization and a more inclusive legal profession.
  • Named a Top Firm for Minorities in the 2019 Vault Law Firm Diversity Rankings.
  • Executive Partner Eric Friedman received the Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award from the New York City Bar Association in 2012. He is the only law firm managing partner to receive the award.
  • Inaugural law firm to receive the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's Equal Justice Award for our work and partnership over the years with LDF, particularly under the leadership of Joe Flom and with the Skadden Fellows Program (2011).