No Offers, Summer Associates

Nationwide No Offer Watch: Is Dechert Trying to ‘Trade-Up’ Its Summer Class?

Dechert logo.JPGLet’s say you leased a $25,000 car with an option to buy it a few months later. But when your option matured, you realized that automobiles previously priced at $50,000 were available for what you would have to pay for your $25,000 car. Wouldn’t you at least go back to the showroom and take a look around?
According to some Dechert summer associates, that is essentially what Dechert is doing to its summer class. As we understand it, Dechert has made offers to half of its summer class. But it told the other half of the class that they’ll have to wait until January 2010 before the firm even decides if it will give them offers. January!
In the meantime, Dechert is one of the few firms we know of that is going full speed ahead with 3L recruiting. So Dechert looks to be interested in hiring some 3Ls for its next class of incoming associates, before it even tells all of its 2009 summer associates where they stand with the firm.
I know, nobody is “entitled” to a job. But is it reasonable for a firm to treat its summers like fungible commodities? To quote the late Charlton Heston: “It’s people! Soylent Green is made out of people.”
Tipsters who summered at Dechert reported that the firm’s reason for delaying their offer decision until January was “purely economic.” But if that is the case, then why is the firm looking to hire additional people for the same incoming class?
Dechert summer associates weigh in after the jump.

Above the Law brought all of this information to the attention of Dechert management. A firm spokesperson told us:

This is incorrect.

But we’ve seen the recruiting information and OCI postings for law schools where Dechert is interviewing 3Ls. And we’ve spoken to people who summered at Dechert who did not receive offers. Many of those summers claimed half (or more) of the class was in a similar situation. When we pressed the firm to clarify what specific part of our information was “incorrect,” we did not receive a response.
Summers themselves told us what they thought was going on at the firm:

[Before my offer decision was delayed] I thought [Dechert’s recruiting of 3Ls] meant one of two things: either Dechert needed more people (great!), or it was scavenging other firms and possibly looking to “trade-up” from its current associates to more prestigious associates (better grades, law review, even better law schools, etc.) who may not want to be deferred from firms like Cravath or Skadden. The latter possibility is awful. We agreed to accept Dechert’s summer offer; for them to just abandon us because they can get some people with more prestigious backgrounds is a major breach of trust, one that would make them look awful to applying 2Ls. I had a choice of being a summer associate elsewhere, and chose Dechert — if Dechert was trying to trade-up, it seems like this is something current 2Ls should know about. There is no way I would have chosen Dechert if I had known there was even a chance that they might try to trade-up for a prestigious person. So I thought that they couldn’t no-offer us — that would look terrible for their recruitment.

Then I got a call from one of the hiring partners. I was told that they were deferring making a decision … until next year in January.

Another summer who will not hear about an offer until January felt this way:

MysTTTal (sorry) Elie, I have been a critic of your work and intellect. You tried to warn me about Dechert. I didn’t listen, too many typos. Now I feel like the idiot.

But some tipsters had a more philosophical response to the news:

I appreciate not having to job-hunt with a no-offer weighing me down. I’d expected a much higher number of us to get offers, since Dechert already cut its summer class down by a lot … But I guess I can’t fault them for trying to get a better deal than me. I would have done the same to them if the market had been better.

Will Dechert be able to recruit 3Ls despite the way the firm is dealing with its former summer associates? Most likely. But those 3Ls forfeit their ability to complain should Dechert look to “trade-up” again.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of No Offers
Prior ATL coverage of Dechert

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