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Skadden Says Juneteenth to Be Firmwide Holiday

June 12, 2020, 9:29 PM

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom has declared Juneteenth a holiday at the firm, following several companies and organizations that have recently made similar moves as widespread protests over racism and police brutality in the U.S. continue.

June 19 is commemorated as the effective end of slavery in the U.S. Although the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect two years prior, Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and told slaves of their emancipation.

Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia recognize the holiday, according to the Congressional Research Service, though the date is not considered a national holiday.

“We hope this day will provide an opportunity for us to pause from our daily routines to reflect on issues around racism and its impact on our country,” said Skadden executive partner Eric Friedman in an email to employees seen by Bloomberg Law.

The National Football League, Nike, Twitter and others have also announced they would observe Juneteenth as a company holiday.

Another law firm, Dechert, announced on Friday that it will close its U.S. operations at noon on June 19 in observance of Juneteenth.

The decisions by Dechert and Skadden come as Big Law firms have expressed support for fighting racial inequality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, who died May 25 in Minneapolis while being arrested by police.

At the same time, law firms have long been called out for the lack of diversity within their own ranks. Skadden recently faced criticism from civil rights advocate Rev. Al Sharpton on the issue.

A 2019 survey from the National Association of Law Placement found that black attorneys accounted for less than 2% of partners among the firms surveyed, while black women accounted for less than 1%.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Tom P. Taylor at