Shortly after Sheila Birnbaum joined Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in 1980 as the firm’s 185th lawyer, Joseph Flom told her and a room full of partners they would one day grow to 1,000 lawyers. At the time, it seemed impossible.

“We all looked at him like he lost his mind,” Birnbaum says.

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