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Peter P. Mullen, Skadden Arps Executive Partner, Dies at 83

Peter P. Mullen, who served as executive partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP as it thrived during the wave of corporate takeovers, mergers and acquisitions, has died. He was 83. Source: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom via Bloomberg
Peter P. Mullen, who served as executive partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP as it thrived during the wave of corporate takeovers, mergers and acquisitions, has died. He was 83. Source: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom via Bloomberg

Oct. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Peter P. Mullen, who served as executive partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP as it thrived during the wave of corporate takeovers, mergers and acquisitions, has died. He was 83.

He died Oct. 15 following a long struggle with cardiac issues, the New York-based firm said in a statement.

As executive partner from 1981 to 1994 -- and informally for several years before that -- Mullen steered the firm as colleagues including Joseph Flom helped create the modern mergers-and-acquisitions business. Flom, a force in the takeover field during its heyday from 1975 to 1990, died in February.

As the firm grew in size and stature, Mullen “knew his role,” Lincoln Caplan wrote in his 1994 book, “Skadden: Power, Money, and the Rise of a Legal Empire.”

“Flom wanted to attract and do deals, the firm’s life blood, and he needed someone to run the firm; Mullen was willing and able,” Caplan wrote. “He was a builder of consensus as well as its barometer. He created a working social order to discipline Flom’s potent, if sometimes raw, energy.”

As executive partner -- what other firms call managing partner -- Mullen oversaw the opening of 14 offices around the globe, including in Beijing, Hong Kong, Moscow and Tokyo. Skadden is now the sixth-largest U.S. law firm with 1,859 lawyers, according to the National Law Journal’s 2011 rankings.

‘Our Architect’

Mullen spent several years as head of the Skadden’s corporate practice, which included public and private financing, M&A and contests for corporate control.

“He was known as our ‘architect,’ handling both long-term strategy and day-to-day decisions while commanding the respect of all the firm’s attorneys and staff,” current Executive Partner Eric J. Friedman said in a statement.

With Flom, Mullen in 1988 created the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, which enables young lawyers to spend two years in public-interest law, representing poor, homeless, elderly and disabled people in legal cases. At the time, the program was described as the largest commitment to legal-assistance organizations by any firm.

“This will tend to contradict the view that the established bar has about large law firms, the view that we take from society and do not give back,” Mullen told the New York Times when the program was announced. “We have been successful, and we have made money, and we have decided to put some of it back.”

Judge’s Son

Peter Paul Mullen was born in Manhattan on April 8, 1928. His mother was a librarian, his father a lawyer and, for 20 years, a state criminal court judge, Caplan wrote.

He graduated from Georgetown University in 1948 and Columbia Law School in 1951.

Mullen was the 10th lawyer at Skadden, hired in 1961 after being passed over for partnership at Dewey Ballantine, according to Caplan. Dewey Ballantine is now known as Dewey & LeBoeuf. He was named a partner after one year at Skadden. Mullen became of counsel in 1998.

Survivors include his wife, Billie; sons Peter and Jeff; and daughters Kirby, Elaine and Lucy, according to the firm.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurence Arnold in Washington at larnold4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Charles W. Stevens at cstevens@bloomberg.net

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