Who's the hottest young woman lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom? Last week that question sent the New York firm into a bit of a tizzy. On Feb. 4, Skadden Insider, a blog written by two anonymous firm employees and dedicated, unofficially, to all things Skadden, announced the winner of its weeklong poll to decide the firm's "Hottest Female Associate." The contest was hardly Skadden Gone Wild -- most of the photos of the eight contestants were relatively innocuous head shots. The winner, a blond litigator, drew 400 votes from Skadden cognoscenti.
But the firm was not amused. On Feb. 7, Skadden of counsel Henry "Hank" Baer, the firm's employment adviser, sent an e-mail to all Skadden lawyers in the United States, chastising the blog.
"Numerous attorneys at the firm have expressed their concern and, in some cases, embarrassment at such contests," wrote Baer, who said the competition was "inappropriate" and inconsistent with Skadden's "values and standards of behavior."
Baer, the onetime head of Skadden's labor and employment practice, told The American Lawyer that he sent the e-mail after hearing about the contest from other lawyers at the firm.
"Most of what [Skadden Insider] has on there is not objectionable and we had no problem with it," says Baer, who adds that the firm is not trying to shut down the blog. "I just think they crossed the line when they put these women's names and pictures on the blog without their permission." (The eight finalists declined to comment.)
The two employees who write Skadden Insider did not respond to an e-mail request for comment. But the bloggers did post a response to Baer's e-mail, noting that pictures of the contestants were culled from Skadden's Web site, Facebook Inc., MySpace.com and other publicly available sources. When one finalist asked that a photo submitted by a friend be removed, the bloggers complied. "The contest, although sophomoric, was done all in good fun," the Skadden bloggers wrote.
For now, the fun is over: Skadden Insider announced that nominations for "Hottest Male Associate," which was to have followed the women's contest, have been suspended.