Dechert to cut lawyer roles in London amid ‘market challenges’

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US giant axes City jobs as part of 5% reduction in global workforce

US law firm Dechert has begun a redundancy consultation with lawyers and support staff in London as part of an effort to reduce its global headcount by 5%.

The firm told staff in a memo yesterday that it had “implemented a reduction in force of attorneys and business professionals” in response to a slowdown in demand and “market challenges”.

The memo sent by firm chair Andrew Levander and chief executive Henry Nassau also confirmed “a redundancy process has begun in London”. The cuts impact 55 lawyers and 43 business professionals globally.

“We have carefully examined existing and projected demand for our legal services and determined that we need to align our staffing levels with demand,” the memo first reported by US website Above The Law added.

The 2023 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

In a statement a firm spokesperson said:

“While this was a difficult decision, we continue to execute on the firm’s strategic plan by providing world-class legal service, focusing on areas of growth, bringing high-profile clients and matters to the firm, and advancing innovation in the legal industry.”

Other big players understood to have made job cuts in the US include Cooley, Goodwin Procter, Kirkland & Ellis and Shearman & Sterling.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows Dechert has 21 offices across the globe and is known for its transactional and contentious work. Following strong profits in 2021, the firm’s revenues dropped 3.9% to $1.29 billion (£1.02 billion) and its profit per equity partner (PEP) plunged 14.3% to $3.63 million (£2.8 million) following a record 2021 where PEP increased by 50%.

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The tech focused law firms over-recruited and once the work dried up they are having to adjust their staffing levels



Have Goodwin K&E etc cut jobs in London?



Not yet as far as I know, but Cravath has cut US-qualified finance associates in its London office. Kirkland and Goodwin have already made layoffs in the US along with Cooley and Shearman. Choppy waters ahead with M&A down and interest rates high.



Kirkland doesn’t need to make any cuts.

What you need to understand about Kirkland and Ellis – and what makes it such a force to be reckoned with – is that its restructuring practice is almost as strong as the private equity side. Associates who are not being utilised in corporate will be needed in restructuring.



Incorrect – K&E cut jobs in US just last month, and are notorious for doing stealth cuts in London.



This is a gross oversimplification. Whilst true that K&E has a strong restructuring practice, meaning it is better hedged against downturns on a firm / office level, it absolutely does not guarantee job security for individual associates, especially for a firm that is notorious for its layoff practices amongst the already notorious US firms in London (when compared to their UK counterparts).

Instead, a host of other factors such as difficulty re-training associates, internal politics, lag time between downturn in PE and uptick in restructuring work, equity partners’ unwillingness to shoulder the financial burden during the interim, to name just a few, are at play.



Not Goodwin



This is the benefit of working for a full service firm. You don’t quite get the crazy salaries and bonuses in the high periods but you also get more job security in the low periods.



You may be slightly safer at an English firm than a US one. But don’t think they can’t be equally ruthless when necessary. See how the Magic Circle acted during the financial crash. A&O in particular fired plenty of associates and partners and de-equitised others



Everyone did that in the financial crash. But they haven’t made any layoffs in the 24 years since and salaries have more than doubled in the same period.



Should say 14 years… this is why I didn’t get a job in IBD



Tech focused Goodwin increased London headcount by 47% in 2021



Yes and still expanding in 2023 in certain areas


East London Associate

Not surprising. Dechert Partnership always preempt these announcements with reminding fee earners that they will never operate in debt, so that only leaves so many other cost cutting options.



Wonder which practice area made cuts? The niche areas in Dechert like IP maybe?



2 senior associates and 2 juniors in white collar






Probably Private Equity and Tech



Bang average firm trying hard to be seen as ‘elite’. Feel sorry for future joiners


Legal Recruiter

Think it’s a really transparent and humane way of doing things. Other firms are making “stealth” layoffs over a long period of time which just creates uncertainty amongst the associate base and makes it very hard for any dismissed associates to find jobs as their dismissals are being perceived as performance based. Any dismissed Dechert associates can point clearly to their dismissal as being part of a firm wide cuts which will make their placement easier.


Doing The Decent Thing

Ready to be shouted down on this but if I were on the Dechert Exec, I would show some loyalty to my staff. Yes, PEP would drop but my partners are not going to starve. Slow the recruitment and redeploy the affected employees. The market will pick-up again and everyone is largely happy.



Is this related to recent developments in AI powered tools?


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