Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware, Skadden Arps tangle over diversity

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Skadden Arps and Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware continued a war of the press releases over diversity in the Delaware corporate law system.

Skadden Arps (full name Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom) expressed a willingness to meet with Rev. Al Sharpton, who recently leveled charges at the law firm over its diversity practices.

At the same time Skadden, Arps took Citizens to task for what it sees as an effort to discredit the firm and the Delaware legal system by a group tied to a disgruntled litigant, Philip Shawe. William Brady, president of the Delaware State Bar Association has made a similar claim.

Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware is comprised of employees of TransPerfect and Delaware residents.

TransPerfect owner Philip Shawe was unhappy with the treatement he received in Chancery Court in a dispute over 50-50 ownership of the company. Shawe prevailed, but moved the state of incorporation for TransPerfect from Delaware to Nevada.

TransPerfect has continued to dispute the validity of bills from Skadden Arps related to the custodian who was appointed by Chancery Court to oversee the sale.

In a letter, Skadden, Arps noted that in the past four years, 15 percent of Skadden’s newly-promoted US-based partners have been people of color, including one attorney in Wilmington. The firm also pointed to two Delaware Supreme Court members who were Skadden attorneys – retired Justice Carolyn Burger and Karen Valihura.

Burger took early retirement and said that former Gov. Jack Markell did not give her serious consideration for the post of Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court.

Citizens came out swinging against Skadden. “It’s not shocking in the least that the same firm responsible for suppressing the voices of those advocating for basic human rights inUkrainewould now shift its focus towards slinging mud at a 5,000-member grassroots organization seeking to improve diversity in the historically white and maleDelawarecourt system. We spent over$1 million advocating for diversity inDelawarelast year. What have they done,” stated Chris Coffey, campaign manager for Citizens.

Coffey continued, “Instead of addressing the fact that out of 72 lawyers inDelaware, Skadden has barely a handful of African American lawyers in a state that’s almost 30 percent black.Meanwhile, despite hollow promises to change their legacy on this, and be ‘steadfast in their efforts to build a diverse workforce,’ just one of their summer associates inDelaware– home to the nation’s busiest corporate courts – was black.”

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