With a new global partner class of 31, this Philly prodigy is all Deched out for growth on the West Coast.
Dechert’s status as one of Philly’s powerhouse firms is well established, and one need only look at the firm’s Chambers USA rankings for confirmation. In its home state, Dechert is awarded top marks for its general commercial litigation, antitrust, real estate finance, tax, and corporate/M&A practices, the latter of which is also acclaimed nationwide. However, this is far from being a regional outfit. The firm’s new partner class – a whopping 31 – is testament not only to Dechert’s investment in growth, but also its sheer global presence where new partners have emerged everywhere from Dublin and London, to Singapore and Munich. Other key international hubs include Hong Kong and Paris.
The firm’s roots and HQ may be in Philly, but Dechert’s New Yorkoffice is in fact its largest. Here its restructuring and white-collar crime teams come with coveted ‘elite’ status, while its M&A and general commercial litigation teams are both highly regarded. Chambers USAalso shines a spotlight on the firm’s national capital markets, product liability, and registered funds practices. At the time of writing, a majority of the firm’s newbies were placed in New York, followed by Philadelphia and DC. Boston, LA, Connecticut, Silicon Valley, and Charlotte each took on a couple of associates.
For our insiders, the firm’s recent partner class was a source of morale and encouragement for their own futures. Not only was the class the largest in the firm’s history, but it also had over 50% female representation. “There are people who interviewed me as a summer who are now partners,” one junior shared, adding that “it’s nice to see that people are moving up internally.” Another told us: “I’ve already had conversations with partners about the breadth of work required to make partner and how to make yourself invaluable to the firm.” Our latest survey shows that well over half of respondents felt that making partnership was achievable, solidly above the market average.
“I’ve already had conversations with partners about the breadth of work required to make partner."
Associates have mid-year evaluations and annual performance reviews to monitor progress, which include “recommendations on what to do to ensure you continue on the career path of your choice.”In addition, juniors had regularly scheduled 'soft skills'training sessions (on things like leadership, management, and client relations), as well as practice group specific sessions. Sources acknowledged that there had been a number of lateral hires as of recent, which was true industry-wide, but it was understood that this was to ensure that there were enough people to handle the influx of work.
Practice groups at Dechert include: corporate & securities; finance & real estate; financial services; antitrust/competition; intellectual property; product liability; labor; and international arbitration. Most juniors are taken on by the financial services bunch, but there is considerable intake to the product liability, corporate & securities, and finance & real estate teams. The firm also has a smaller independent global tax team.
"Where some matters only take five hours, some can take hundreds!”
There’s a lot on offer within Dechert’s corporate & securities group which offers opportunities to work on everything from M&A and private equity deals to leverage finance and capital markets transactions. Healthcare, financial services, technology, and investment management were all identified as specialty sectors. We heard that, as juniors, office work coordinators are “pretty heavily involved” in your workflow. However, the general gist was that as associates advanced, they were able to pick up work more informally. On general corporate securities matters, juniors were asked to help out with filings and disclosures. On M&A deals, there was a bunch of diligence and writing to be done, including diligence memos during the early stages of transactions. Many of our interviewees also found themselves leading the coordination between the team, the client, and the specialist groups. “It’s a great learning experience as you’re often interacting with partners in different teams,” we heard. Most sources were happy with their responsibility, with one junior reflecting that “I’m definitely doing work at my level or above.”
Corporate & securities clients:B&G Foods, Crown Holdings, FS Investments. Advised Quest Diagnostics in its $760 million sale of its ownership interest in Q2 Solutions, a leader in clinical trial laboratory services, to IQVIA.
Juniors in Dechert’s financial services group are involved in registered fund projects (both open and closed end), as well as private practice funds. We heard the team’s main clients were investment companies, and the degree of work for each varied greatly. “Some clients only require high-level reviews of their regulatory and annual update filings, while others need us to be heavily involved in document control and in the gathering and coordinating of data,” one junior in DC said, adding that “where some matters only take five hours, some can take hundreds!”Our interviewees also reported on plenty of opportunities to “work on smaller cases with smaller clients where you are working directly alongside a partner.”
The group operates on a team-based model whereby newbies are assigned to different client teams. “You generally stay with those teams throughout your tenure,” explained an associate, “but as you work with people or raise your hand, you get added to additional teams with other types of work. It really grows and transforms!”Our interviewees felt the system was effective in building relationships with longstanding clients and developing expertise. Associates can also expect to attend cross-office meetings every Friday where everyone is kept in the loop about the current regulatory climate and any trends, allowing juniors ample opportunities to develop a deep understanding of the sector.
Financial services clients:MainStay Funds, Cerberus Capital Management, GIC. Advised Morgan Stanley Mutual Funds on the development and launch of new funds including all compliance and regulatory issues.
Juniors in the product liabilitygroup routinely work on complex mass tort cases across a range of sectors including chemicals, food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. Many of our interviewees worked on pre-litigation matters where they found themselves identifying and working with experts, as well as conducting interviews. During litigation, juniors can be found running the post-filings, carrying out research analysis, writing motions and briefs, as well as working on discoveries and depositions. “Our work really runs the gamut,” a source said. “We’re not siloed into one particular thing.”Juniors on the team have a work coordinator who dishes out cases, but as a matter wraps up or slows down, we were also told that associates are free to reach out to senior associates and partners to seek out more work.
Products liability clients:Moderna, Bayer, 3M. Served as US product liability counsel for Moderna regarding its COVID-19 vaccine.
"We have several partners who are extremely active on pro bono cases which sets an important tone.”
Our interviewees were clear: “Dechert is extremely committed to pro bono.” Juniors are required to complete a minimum of 25 pro bono hours annually. “It’s not a lip service minimum,” sources emphasized. “You have to meet it to be bonus-eligible.”And if pro bono is your cup of tea, you’ll be glad to hear that juniors can count up to 200 hours toward billables (and even more if you ask for approval!). “No one has been discouraged from taking on more,” disclosed a source. “We have several partners who are extremely active on pro bono cases which sets an important tone.”Our data shows Dechert rack up more pro bono hours per attorney than 84% of firms in our guide. Its commitment is such that many sources highlighted it as “a key reason for choosing Dechert.”
In terms of the types of matters available, juniors described working on various asylum cases outsourced from local organizations, as well as a range of unique nonprofit matters. There’s also a variety of state-specific initiatives. For example, in Philadelphia, the firm has a landlord/tenant pro bono group which tackles unlawful evictions. Overall, our insiders felt pro bono offered “great opportunities to diversify your experience.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 68,209
- Average per attorney: 97
Hours & Compensation, and Culture
Billable hours:1,950 target
On the topic of bonuses, we were told that Dechert always offered market or above. “Every time there’s been an industry break-out, we’re one of the first five to match,”a source eagerly said. One insider even hinted at special bonuses that were being handed out for those who exceed 2,200 billable hours (known as an 'extraordinary bonus', which is in addition to the firm's annual market bonus). Juniors explained that the 1,950 target averaged out at around 7.5 hours a day – “a good week means hitting around that.” But, of course, occasional longer hours come with the territory. “It’s BigLaw – there’s a ton of work, tight deadlines, late nights, and a weekend email here or there, but I work with a lot of great people who make it worthwhile,”clarified a source, adding that “the pressure comes from outside, not within.”Though our data shows that associates at Dechert work the same number of hours as the market average, the firm performed markedly better in a number of metrics in our latest associate survey, including: work/life balance; fair allocation of bonus; and for the overall benefits package making the work worthwhile.
"People take notice of your hard work – it's a real meritocracy.”
Associates were keen to highlight the firm’s emphasis on individual recognition: “It’s not hierarchical in the sense that you never get interface with partners. People take notice of your hard work – it's a real meritocracy.” Another source also observed that “whereas a lot of attorneys at other firms have a certain intensity about them by telling you how elite they are, at Dechert we let the work speak for itself and there is a focus on interacting and connecting with you as an individual.”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Our interviewees found much to applaud in Dechert’s approach to diversity & inclusion. The firm’s approach to mental health and wellbeing in particular was singled out for acclaim, with sources reporting on real-world examples of workloads being reduced to address stress and personal challenges. Another insider also reflected that “the firm is great for people with children. There are multiple associates who work part-time due to outside work commitments and their partnership track is not affected.”
Though juniors highlighted the presence of “visible, vocal, and valued female partners,” they were also clear that “representation is far from being 50/50 as one would hope.”They similarly noted the number of associates of color at the firm was “not representative of the population.”In late 2021, Dechert attorneys launched a network for women in securities litigation aimed at bolstering mentorship and building key relationships. Dechert also received Mansfield 4.0 Certified Plus status, testifying to its efforts to improve representation.
Strategy & Future
Many industries continue to reel from the impact of the pandemic, but in the world of BigLaw many firms have proved capable of thriving in uncertainty – Dechert included. “We learned from the financial crisis that BigLaw does come back – but we never expected the market to come back as fast as it did,” explains CEO Henry Nassau. “This time last year, our financial teams became extremely busy, and we haven’t seen any signs of reversion. The pipeline of capital-facing teams has never been busier.”Nassau elaborates that “in order to serve the needs of clients and provide meaningful career paths” for young associates, the firm is continuing to seek out “organic and lateral growth.”
Nassau also stresses the importance of training for newbies and the push for this to be in person.At the time of our research, attorneys were expected to be in the office at least 50% of the time as part of the firm's new hybrid work model.
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed
Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed
Dechert conducts interviews at over 30 law schools and job fairs. In its 2021 class, the law schools most represented were Penn, Georgetown, Boston University and NYU. The firm also accepts direct applications. OCIs are conducted by a mix of senior associates and partners, though junior associates are often on hand as well to answer students’ questions at hospitality suites.
According to hiring sources, interviewers tend to have their own style, but “most will look for indicators of a candidate’s ambition, communication skills, leadership and management abilities, as well as potential in teamwork, collaboration and client relationship-building. We also enjoy being able to answer questions about the firm and our own experiences and career paths.” Without a rigid format, the interviews stood out in some associates’ memories, as this source explained: “It was more them offering me career advice, rather than the traditional 'tell me about these things on your CV' format.”
Top tips for this stage:
“The main personal aspect of it is you get gut feelings. One thing that stood out is every single person I met with was incredibly enthusiastic about the work they were doing. I thought these are the people I’d want to work those long hours with.” – a second-year associate
“I didn’t know much about Dechert going into the interview. The people who interviewed me were great, very warm, and followed up. It was good to see they have a good experience at Dechert.” – a second-year associate
Applicants invited to second stage interview: undisclosed
Callbacks are customized by office, but all candidates will have the specific ins and outs of the interview explained to them prior to the interview. Candidates typically have four 30-minute interviews with a mix of partners and associates. As with the OCIs, “callback interviews and the questions interviewers ask will still vary,” according to hiring sources at the firm, who add that “interviews can become more personalized, but different attorneys will find different aspects of candidates’ experiences and interests impressive or discussion-worthy.” After the interviews, the hiring committee meets to consider candidates and make offers.
Top tips for this stage:
“The money was the same everywhere, all my firms were in the same area. Then I came here for a student dinner and drinks and felt very at home. I laughed at jokes because they were actually funny, not because I was trying to fit in. It was comfortable. If I never send out another resume in my entire life, it’d be too soon.” – a third-year associate
Dechert's standard ten-week summer program starts with an orientation in New York, after which summers get to pursue work in practice groups that interest them. Assignments come from different attorneys and summer associates are encouraged to explore beyond their initial practice group interest. Mock negotiations, deposition training, presentation workshops and practice group trainings are also dotted throughout the program. Each office and many of the firm's affinity groups also host social events.
As the program comes to an end, summers rank the practice groups available within their respective offices by preference. The firm informs candidates as to their practice group placement in the spring of their 3L year.
Top tips for this stage:
“The way they wanted to integrate summer attorneys was great. They found it exciting and challenging. They articulated it and connected with it on a deep level. I felt enthusiastic to throw myself in because of that.” – a second-year associate
“Pay attention to the personalities, daily routines, strengths, and passions of those attorneys in your practice groups of interest. Then, do some introspection and be honest with yourself. Can you envision yourself becoming a member of this team? Finding a practice and a group of people with whom you naturally ‘fit’ increases the likelihood of long term success.” – Laura Swihart, co-chair of Dechert’s global finance and real estate practice groups
2929 Arch Street,
1095 Avenue of the Americas,
- Main Offices: Philadelphia / New York
- Number of domestic offices: 10
- Number of international offices: 12
- Worldwide revenue: $1.341 billion
- Partners (US): 232
- Associates (US): 381
- Main recruitment contacts: Alison Bernard, Chief Talent and Human Resources Officer (email@example.com)
- Hiring partner: James A. Lebovitz, Firmwide Hiring Chair
- Diversity officers: Abbi L. Cohen, Deputy Chair, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; Satra Sampson-Arokium, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 75
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 1Ls: 11, 2Ls: 66
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Boston: 7, Charlotte: 6, Los Angeles: 2, New York: 25, Philadelphia: 25, San Francisco: 3, Washington DC: 9
- Summer salary 2022: 1Ls: $4,134.62/week 2Ls: $4,134.62/week
- Split summers offered? Yes
- Can summers spend time in an overseas office? Yes, case by case
Main areas of work
Dechert delivers legal expertise and commercial insight in our core practices: antitrust; banking and financial institutions; bankruptcy, business restructuring and reorganization; corporate; employee benefits and executive compensation; energy and natural resources; finance; financial services and investment management; intellectual property; international arbitration; international tax and private client services; international trade and government regulation; life sciences; litigation; real estate; products liability and mass torts; and pro bono.
Dechert is a leading global law firm with 22 offices around the world. At Dechert, we believe that building community within the workplace and with our clients is the key to success. We respect and value everyone’s voice and want our people to feel empowered to do their very best. Dechert has been certified as a Great Place to Work. We were named one of the ‘Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality’ by Human Rights Campaign and are recognized by Working Mother as one of the Top 100 Companies for Women and one of the Best Law Firms for Women. Dechert is also a leading law firm for pro bono services and was ranked in the top 10 for both international and US by The American Lawyer in 2021.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
American, Berkeley, Boston College, Boston University, Case Western, Catholic, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Hofstra, Howard, Michigan, Northwestern, NYU, Stanford, Temple, UCLA, UNC, University of Pennsylvania, USC, UVA, Vanderbilt, Villanova, Wake Forest, and Yale.
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Dechert participates in resumé collections at several law schools as well as the Philadelphia Area Diversity Group’s 1L Fellows program, Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Scholars Program, and the Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program (DAPP).
Summer associate profile:
In addition to a strong academic background, we seek candidates with excellent communication, leadership, management and client relations skills.
Summer program components:
Dechert’s commitment to providing training and mentorship begins on day one. US summer associates learn about Dechert’s culture, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives, and pro bono opportunities. Our summer curriculum also highlights important skills such as time management, networking, innovation and collaboration. Our summer associates do not formally rotate through practice groups; rather they work on challenging, substantive assignments across practice areas of their own choosing. Extensive formal training programs include legal writing, mock negotiations and deposition trainings. Summer associates attend regular practice group meetings and trainings. We offer a realistic view of what it is like to practice at one of the world’s most respected global law firms; and summer associates are integrated into the Dechert community as a whole, regardless of office.
Recruitment website: www.dechert.com/careers
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 5)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
- Hedge & Mutual Funds (Band 1)
- Banking & Finance (Band 5)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 5)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 3)
- Litigation: Securities (Band 4)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 1)
- Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 3)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 3)
- Tax (Band 4)
- Antitrust (Band 1)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property (Band 2)
- Real Estate: Finance (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 1)
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia & Surrounds
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 1)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 1)
USA - Nationwide
- Antitrust (Band 4)
- Banking & Finance (Band 5)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: CLOs (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: CMBS (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: CRE CLOs (Band 1)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations: The Elite (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Financial Services Regulation: Broker Dealer (Compliance & Enforcement) (Band 4)
- International Arbitration: Enforcement Spotlight Table
- International Arbitration: The Elite (Band 3)
- International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions: The Elite (Band 4)
- Investment Funds: Regulatory & Compliance (Band 2)
- Life Sciences (Band 4)
- Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 2)
- Product Liability & Mass Torts: The Elite (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 3)
- Registered Funds (Band 1)
- Securities: Litigation (Band 5)
- Securities: Regulation: Enforcement (Band 3)
- Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 5)