The Legal Cheek View
Dechert is perhaps best known in the UK for being the workplace of Miriam Gonzalez, the successful lawyer wife of former deputy PM Nick Clegg. Gonzalez leads the firm’s UK competition law team, which is one of its major London practice areas alongside finance, private equity and litigation. Dechert also has a well-regarded white collar crime practice operating out of the UK, giving the office a more rounded feel than some purely deal-driven US firms in the City.
This latter department has been in growth mode in the last couple of years, expanding by a very hefty 60% since 2015. This comes amid wider expansion in London, where billed and received work is up 19% this year, bucking Brexit fears. With the firm’s performance stateside largely flat this year, Dechert’s UK figures have been central in the firm-wide 2.4% increase in revenue this year and 1.6% increase in profits per equity partner (PEP) to take PEP over the £2 million mark. London newly qualified solicitor pay rose last year to £90,000.
With its interesting mix of work, and rookie lawyer pay levels sitting in between the magic circle and MoneyLaw US firms, Dechert has a decent pitch to students. Another selling point is the very high chance of doing an international secondment that the firm offers to its trainees – around 50% have spent time abroad with the firm, albeit a fair few just making the hop over the Irish Sea to Dechert’s office in Dublin. Other popular destinations include Brussels and Singapore. There’s also the odd client secondment, with one trainee this year spending time with a leading hedge fund manager and another working as a judicial assistant at the Royal Courts of Justice for four months.
Nevertheless, the firm has managed to score slightly underwhelmingly on the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18, with mostly Bs and the odd C. A six seat trainee rotation process, which gives trainees “a very interesting and broad range of work” with “lots of responsibility” would probably have landed Dechert an A for training if it wasn’t for a perceived lack of formally organised training sessions in some departments. The culture is perfectly adequate, with “generally very friendly and supportive” trainees and “with a few exceptions” approachable partners. And the work/life balance – which sees Dechert’s London lawyers start on average at 8:52am and leave at 7:42pm – is not bad in view of the competitive salary.
Meanwhile, the recently refurbished office is seen as respectable, while the improved canteen – called 'Cafe Diem' – “still could be better”. Perks are not bad: there’s also free fruit every day, subsidised gym membership, health and dental insurance, and pecan pie on Thanksgiving. But the trainee social scene is a bit lacking apart from around vacation scheme time.