Dewey LeBoeuf logo.jpgAssociates at Dewey & LeBoeuf just left a firm wide meeting. Sources report that firm management was very frank with associates about the firm’s financial numbers and future health of the firm.
But the headline news is that Dewey & LeBoeuf has decided to join Skadden (and Shearman & Sterling) in offering a year-long deferral to all of its associates. The program (which is called DL Pursuits) is more similar to Skadden’s Sidebar than the initiative announced by S&S this morning.
Here are the basic facts: one year deferral to do whatever you want, 1/3rd of your D&L salary, full medical benefits, $1,000 in student loan repayment, and bar fees. And if you can get a paying job while you are taking time off from the firm, you still get the 1/3rd salary stipend.
The reasons for the program are made clear in the Dewey’s firm wide memo:

After an encouraging first quarter, the Firm is optimistic about its long-term prospects, despite the challenges that continue to confront the legal community, our clients and the global economy. Nevertheless, the Firm and its peers have seen reduced demand for legal services in recent months and experienced excess capacity for their short-term needs, particularly in the junior classes. To address these issues, the Firm is pleased to introduce a new program, entitled “DL Pursuits,” for its US counsel and associates. With DL Pursuits, attorneys in good standing will have the opportunity to leave the Firm for an extended period to pursue other interests, with the option to return to the Firm at the end of that time.

The demand for junior associates just isn’t there right now. While Pursuits is open to all associates, current first years at Dewey are eligible to take 18 months off, instead of just 12. This first year class is the last class that was recruited the Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf Lamb independently, before the merger. Going forward, class sizes should be more tailored to the single entity.
We have some additional details and the full memo after the jump.


When associates return, class standing will be determined on a case-by-case basis. That’s an important option for people who are worried that leaving will stunt their growth.
Sources report that Dewey & LeBoeuf partners have been actively working with their clients who might have openings for interested associates. And of course Dewey’s pro bono attorneys are also offering placement help.
The firm would like people to make decisions relatively quickly. Associates have until May 15th to express interest in the Pursuits program. Practice group heads can still veto people if demand is too high, but sources report that D&L does not have a particular target number in mind.
Skadden had around 125 associates leave the firm.
Dewey has had a couple of rounds of layoffs, and recently a number of partners saw their pay reduced. But giving people a viable option to leave the firm and try to ride out the recession — instead of doing a round of mass layoffs — seems positive.
Is this an option that would work for you? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Read the full memo below.
DEWEY & LEBOEUF — MEMO — DL PURSUITS
After an encouraging first quarter, the Firm is optimistic about its long-term prospects, despite
the challenges that continue to confront the legal community, our clients and the global
economy. Nevertheless, the Firm and its peers have seen reduced demand for legal services in
recent months and experienced excess capacity for their short-term needs, particularly in the
junior classes. To address these issues, the Firm is pleased to introduce a new program, entitled “DL Pursuits,” for its US counsel and associates. With DL Pursuits, attorneys in good standing will have the opportunity to leave the Firm for an extended period to pursue other interests, with the option to return to the Firm at the end of that time.
The program will be for a period of no less than one year for attorneys in the class of 2007 and
more senior and approximately eighteen months for attorneys in the class of 2008. We anticipate that the program will start on June 1, 2009.
While participating in the program, attorneys will be paid a stipend equivalent to one-third of
their annual salary, payable on the regular payroll schedule. In addition, the firm will pay for the
cost of medical insurance and reimburse up to $1,000 a month toward repayment of outstanding
law school student loans at their current repayment rate. The firm will also reimburse attorneys
for their mandatory bar registration fees due during their time away from the firm.
While counsel and associates participating in the program will not be employees of the Firm
during their time away, they will retain their connection with the Firm and receive regular
updates on Firm news and events. Upon return to the Firm, class standing will be determined on
an individual basis and will depend on the activities undertaken during the program.
For those interested in taking advantage of DL Pursuits to obtain industry experience, the Firm is working to identify a number of opportunities to place attorneys with client organizations. The
Firm also has excellent contacts with various not-for-profit organizations for those interested in
pursuing public interest work during their time away from the Firm.
To express your interest in participating in DL Pursuits, or to request further details, please email [Redacted]. DL Pursuits is being offered by the Firm on an entirely discretionary basis. While the Firm encourages all attorneys who wish to participate in the program to express their interest, all individual requests will be considered in light of departmental/practice group needs and are subject to department/practice head approval. Initial expressions of interest must be received by Friday, May 15, 2009.
Earlier: Dewey & LeBoeuf: Partners, It’s Your Turn
Shearman & Sterling Offers Voluntary Year-Long Deferral to All Associates
Skadden’s Sidebar: Phase One Complete


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