Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Dechert LLP
The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Dechert LLP
Why did you choose this firm over any other? ‘Culture, intake size versus quality work plus a high level of responsibility within each seat’; ‘six-seat rotation’; ‘international work’; ‘there are six seats and a small intake, so you have the opportunity to learn about more areas of law and take on more responsibility’; ‘breadth of practice areas. International presence. Small trainee intake. Six seat system’; ‘good secondment opportunities’
Best thing about the firm? ‘High quality of work in a competitive and friendly working environment’; ‘the supportive and friendly environment’; ‘we get paid very well whilst managing to maintain a decent work/life balance’; ‘good work, small teams’; ‘the office culture allows you to express your individuality’; ‘the combination between the quality of work with a relatively friendly culture’; ‘the approachability of those in the partnership team’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘Lack of transparency about training, remuneration, holidays and other admin’; ‘the firm still abides by many of the outdated law firm standards, including non-flexible working and doing silly hours when required by a client’; ‘could be more clear regarding qualification’; ‘poor notice in respect to seat rotations and secondments’
Best moment? ‘Working closely with a partner on a big international arbitration case, which was a fantastic learning experience both for the area of law and also for developing soft skills’; ‘being responsible for and advising a senior employee of a client on drafting witness statement for a large international trade dispute’; ‘completing a secondment in an international office’
Worst moment? ‘Misunderstanding my supervisor’s instructions and doing a poor job drafting an offering memorandum as a result. Then having to stay till 1am in order to fix it’; ‘spending hours analysing hundreds of documents, only to find that the analysis had been conducted by a third party already and my work was completely redundant’
The Lex 100 verdict on Dechert LLP
With international offices and a strong City reputation, Dechert attracts candidates looking for a ‘breadth of practice areas’ and ‘international presence’. Trainees compliment the firm’s training strategy which is helped by the small intake size as well as the six-seat rotation system enabling trainees to ‘have the opportunity to learn about more areas of law and take on more responsibility’. The training is described as ‘more hands-off,’ with ‘limited formal training’ and learning ‘very much on the job’ which is popular with trainees. Dechert secures Lex 100 Winner awards in two categories: overall job satisfaction and for the quality of its vacation scheme. Highlights of training include ‘working closely with a partner on a big international arbitration case, which was a fantastic learning experience both for the area of law and also for developing soft skills’ as well as ‘completing a secondment abroad’. Complaints centre around the clarity of the seat allocation process and the prospect of retention. But trainees commend the firm’s ‘better control of personal time and work management with integration into the wider office’. The firm’s international corporate and commercial reputation is another strong selling point as well as its international and client secondment opportunities. If you are interested in City law with a small intake, high remuneration and don’t mind some long hours, Dechert is an attractive option.
The firm: Dechert was one of the first US law firms to open an office in London, in 1972. Working closely with colleagues across Dechert’s global office network, the London lawyers advise clients on matters spanning Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as global matters involving Asia and the US.
The deals: Advised the Arab Republic of Egypt on several multi-tranche bond issuances of US$16bn, including the largest ever public bond issuance out of Egypt and Africa; advised Coveris Holdings S.A. in the sale of its Global Rigid Business to Lindsay Goldberg LLC for €700m in a corporate carve-out involving 15 jurisdictions; advised fintech company Amun Technologies on the issuance of Amun ETP, the world’s first cryptocurrency-linked exchange-traded product, which was listed on Zurich’s SIX Swiss Exchange; advised Monsanto as co-counsel on EU antitrust issues, merger-control clearance and media/investor outreach in the US$66bn Bayer/Monsanto merger; advised SK hynix on the US$18bn acquisition of Toshiba’s NAND flash memory chip unit.
The clients: AGC, Ares, Apollo, Barclays, BNY Mellon, Centaur Media Plc, JP Morgan, Mid Europa Partners.
A day in the life of… Jade Levin, third-seat trainee, Dechert LLP
Departments to date: Financial services, financial services (in Luxembourg), white-collar and securities litigation
8.45am: Given the current Covid-19 pandemic, everyone in the Dechert London office is currently working from home. I get myself ready to start at 8.45am, which is similar to when I would usually arrive at the office. At my desk, I read through my emails, update my to-do list and catch up with the business news.
9.30am: I phone my supervisor to discuss the work I have on my to-do list and ask if there is anything else I can assist her with. Working from home has emphasised the importance of communicating effectively and maintaining working relationships, so I aim to call my supervisor every day.
9.45am: As I am currently in the white-collar crime department, I am assisting my supervisor with a client who is under FCA investigation. I have been asked to research past FCA investigations which were similar, in order to understand the position the FCA may take in our case. I prepare a summary of each of the investigations for my supervisor to read, noting the similarities and differences between those investigations and our client’s circumstances.
12.15pm: Every week, the white-collar crime department has a conference call to discuss updates to ongoing work streams and new client matters which have come in. It is a great way to follow how matters are progressing and keep in touch with the rest of the department.
1.00pm: At the office, I would normally meet up with some of the other trainees at Dechert’s Café Diem to catch up and eat together. Instead, I have been making the most of being able to cook my own lunch and catch up on our group chat.
2.00pm: I get back to my desk and see an email has come in from a pro bono client, an international charity established to raise the aspirations of young girls around the world. The client has asked us to undertake due diligence checks on some of the charity’s prospective local partners in Colombia. As the checks are not urgent, I add it to my to-do list for early next week. During my nine months at Dechert, I have had the opportunity to work on many pro bono cases, such as petitions to free individuals held in detention arbitrarily and on the Women, Business and the Law questionnaire.
2.30pm: A partner has asked me to review and summarise an article on EU anti-fraud software and other relevant materials online. I spend time reading through the article and prepare a memo to the partner, summarising its contents and include further information I was able to find online. At Dechert, trainees are encouraged to add value and engage with their work, so I let the partner know my own thoughts on the article as well.
5.00pm: I join a virtual ‘coffee meeting’ with my supervisor and a few associates from the white-collar crime department. The department has been organising these meetings regularly and it has helped me to get to know members of the department better.
5.30pm: My supervisor is presenting a department training session on the risks of bribery in different industries and I have been asked to start preparing the presentation slides. I research online about the industries which Dechert’s clients work in, such as the aviation, defence and pharmaceutical industries, to better understand the specific risks of bribery affecting those industries. The department training sessions have been a very helpful way to gain substantive knowledge of investigations and offences.
7.30pm: Before logging off for the evening, I confirm with my supervisor that there is nothing urgent that I can assist with and send a few follow-up emails on issues which were raised at this month’s meeting of the Dechert London Associates’ Committee meeting.
About the firm
Chair: Andrew J Levander
CEO: Henry N Nassau
Other offices: Almaty, Austin, Beijing, Boston, Brussels, Charlotte, Chicago, Dubai, Dublin, Frankfurt, Hartford, Hong Kong, Jeddah*, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Moscow, Munich, New York, Orange County, Paris, Philadelphia, Princeton, Riyadh*, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Washington DC. (*associated offices)
Who we are: Dechert is a global specialist law firm with approximately 1,000 lawyers across 26 offices. We have some of the world’s leading lawyers advising on both domestic and cross-border matters. The firm is frequently retained to work on the most challenging transactions and disputes, and prides itself on its ability to deliver premium legal services and sound business judgement to its clients. Dechert lawyers bring to their assignments a focus on quality, responsiveness and value for money. We are driven by one key principle: exceptional client service.
What we do: In London, our lawyers are active in Dechert’s practice areas of corporate and securities, financial services and investment management, finance, real estate and trials, investigations and securities, which incorporates our white-collar and commercial litigation teams. Our clients include corporations, financial institutions, sovereign states, quasi-sovereign entities and private and high-net-worth individuals all over the world. Dechert undertakes work for 40 of the ‘Fortune 100’ companies, and advises 24 of the top 25 global asset management firms, and 41 of the top 50 global private debt firms.
What we’re looking for: We are looking for candidates who have a genuine interest in business and our clients, are ambitious and who have a keen sense of building community, both within the workplace and with our clients.
What you’ll do: Our trainees undertake six seats of four months each, with each trainee being seconded to a client or one of our international offices, providing a truly broad legal foundation. Working closely with partners and associates, and with a small trainee intake, no two trainees’ training contracts will be the same. We run a full training programme at the beginning of and throughout the training contract, which complements our on the job training. Following qualification, our NQs attend orientation in Philadelphia.
Perks: Gym membership/subsidy, life assurance, pension scheme with company contributions, private health and dental care, season ticket loan and a subsidised restaurant.
Sponsorship: LPC and GDL full fees and £10,000 maintenance grant.
Dechert’s guiding principles and personal commitments are not simply words written on our website and in our policies – they are something that we all must live by every day. Championing diversity is part of Dechert’s DNA – a culture where respecting and valuing everyone’s voice and creating a shared enjoyment in all we do empowers people from different backgrounds, experiences and points of view to be fully themselves and bring their very best.
The following are just some of the key measures that Dechert has undertaken to improve diversity and inclusion at the firm:
Affinity groups – Identify and address diversity and inclusion-related issues, and create new and recurring programming focused on the attainment of professional and business development skills. They offer enhanced mentoring opportunities, retreats and educational workshop for diverse attorneys. Reaching beyond Dechert, affinity groups engage with our communities through advocacy, pro bono and speaker programmes.
- Asian Affinity Group
- Black Lawyers Alliance
- Dechert’s Family Network
- Global Women’s Initiative
- Greater Middle Eastern Alliance
- Latino Affinity Group
- LGBTQ Affinity Group
- Dechert Heroes (Veterans Affinity Group)
Diversity Champions – An award programme open to all those at Dechert, whatever their seniority, role or location, set up to recognise those who have given most to support a diverse and inclusive culture. The firm’s leaders chose four Diversity Champions from 100 peer-nominations; each was awarded a bonus.
Diversity Dashboards – A user-friendly programme covering hours, work quality and distribution of assignments that helps firm leaders see where D&I efforts are working effectively and where more attention is needed.
Diversity Symposium – A two-day event for diverse associates, designed to help cultivate a wider professional and support network and to connect directly with firm leaders.
Inclusive leadership – Regular interactive sessions that build inclusive leadership skills within the partnership and all firm personnel.
Lunch and Learn Empowerment Series for Diverse Associates – Provides an opportunity for diverse associates to share knowledge and skills gleaned from external workshops and professional development programmes with diverse associates and counsel at Dechert. Sessions are held every two months and often include guest contributors from the partnership ranks.
Sponsorship and Sustained Support (SASS) programme – Designed to help women associates navigate the path to partnership. In the five years prior to implementation, 18% of lawyers promoted to partner were women; in the five years since, 31% were women. We aim for parity, but celebrate the upward trajectory.