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 others? ‘Six-seat training contract, small intake, US firm prestige, commitment to diversity and inclusion’, ‘firm culture combined with high-quality, high-responsibility work’, ‘it offered good secondments (although some of these have been pulled since Covid)’, ‘expertise in private equity’, ‘I was attracted to the six-seat rotation’, ‘quality of work, responsibility given to trainees, small intake’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Culture and remuneration’, ‘the six-seat system allowing you to try more practice areas’, ‘fellow trainees in my intake and in the year above’, ‘working with associates who are genuinely great people and who really care about your learning and development as an individual’, ‘high levels of trainee responsibility (if trust is earned)’, ‘work-hard culture but very nice people and they care about your development’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Lack of transparency from graduate recruitment around seat rotations’, ‘the limited secondment options due to Covid and the slow approach to re-starting secondment opportunities’, ‘long hours’, ‘can’t think of anything that bad, but I suppose the office in London could be a bit nicer. Having said that, we are supposed to be moving to new digs soon!’

Best moment? ‘Being invited to attend a client event with partners and associates’, ‘attending a successful mediation in my first seat in commercial litigation’, ‘when I finally got my top choice for seat rotation’, ‘using language skills in client meetings’, ‘being part of a fund launch from start to finish and having the client call me directly during the process’

Worst moment? ‘Lack of feedback from supervisors at times, so you’re unsure if you’re doing well/doing enough’, ‘periods of low busyness’, ‘I did land in a team during one of my rotations that wasn’t that great with integrating trainees, which was amplified by having to work from home due to Covid’, ‘late-night bundling’, ‘not getting the seat that I wanted’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Dechert LLP

An ‘expertise in both transactional and contentious work’, and ‘specialisms in private equity, funds and white-collar crime’ all set Dechert apart. The US firm boasts an ‘impressive international presence’ and offers an array of secondments. Trainees form part of a small intake and benefit from ‘strong training’ and ‘a positive learning environment’ which is described as ‘open, relaxed and inclusive’. Reflecting this, Dechert has been named a Future Lawyers Winner for inclusiveness. The impressive salary has also been deemed worthy of a medal. The best thing about the firm are the ‘approachable people across the hierarchy’ who are ‘willing to discuss things deeply and thoughtfully even when busy’. ‘High levels of trainee responsibility’ are the norm at Dechert, the downside of this being that ‘the hours can be long at times’. The ‘administrative processes around seat rotations’ were also lamented. Trainees did not look back fondly on ‘feeling overwhelmed by the workload in a litigious seat’ nor ‘making a client-facing mistake’. But ‘receiving regular encouragement, feedback and praise from team members in the corporate & securities seat’ and ‘being allowed to have a first go at drafting some reasonably complex documents’ made up for it.  What’s more, the pro bono and CSR offering is ‘exceptional. The commitment to pro bono is very genuine and trainees are hugely involved’. To be surrounded by colleagues who are ‘hard-working, nice people’ willing to give decent responsibility to trainees, take a closer look at Dechert.

A day in the life of... Jade Levin, third-seat trainee, Dechert LLP

Jade Levin, Dechert LLP

Departments to date: Financial services, financial services (in Luxembourg), white-collar and securities litigation

University: University of Kent

Degree: Law

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

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 clients: AGC, Ares, Apollo, Barclays, BNY Mellon, Centaur Media Plc, JP Morgan, Mid Europa Partners.

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. on 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.

Chair: Andrew J Levander

CEO: Henry N Nassau

Other offices: Austin, Beijing, Boston, Brussels, Charlotte, Chicago, Dubai, Dublin, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Jeddah*, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Moscow, Munich, New York, Orange County, Paris, Philadelphia, 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 23 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 £12,500 maintenance grant.

Diversity and inclusion

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.