If your firm offered you a “voluntary” deferral option last year, they sure made a lot of promises. Chiefest among them was the understanding that the people who left voluntarily for a year would be able to come back to the firm and resume their Biglaw careers after the deferral.
Well, that bond is about to mature. We’ve already reported on Skadden trying to reabsorb the people who were out on Sidebar Plus. Now we’re fielding reports about Dewey & LeBoeuf trying to find space for all the people who took the DL Pursuits deferral last May. A tipster reports:
The DL Pursuits program will ends on June 1. Just this week, some number of “Pursuers” are being offered another deferral year or four months’ severance. But they are not welcome back to the firm at this time.
Dewey confirmed to Above the Law that some practice groups are slower than others and not everybody has a job waiting for them at this time. But they’re not revoking any offers…
Remember, Dewey’s deferral program wasn’t open just to last year’s incoming associates. People already at the firm had the opportunity to take a year’s sabbatical. But many who took the offer did so with the understanding that Dewey would still have jobs for them when they came back. Our initial report on the deferral quoted this part of Dewey’s offer:
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.
Another tipster told us:
This is underhanded … My “option” to return to the firm has devolved into a discussion on which way I would most like to get fired. Severance? Secondment? Sitting on my ass for another year while Dewey continues to hire summers?
That sounds like a pu-pu platter of poo. But we’ve only received a couple of reports from people who are having trouble getting back on the DL train. Most people seem to have been seamlessly reintegrated into the firm. It’s an important point that the firm underscores in its statement to Above the Law:
The firm sees its DL Pursuits program as a success and plans to continue to operate the program on a limited basis as an option for its attorneys who wish to take time out from private practice. Some of the attorneys currently on the program will be returning to the firm at the beginning of next month, as scheduled, while others have already chosen to change their career path entirely and will not be returning to the firm. Based on individual circumstances, some lawyers have chosen to extend their participation in the DL Pursuits program, or are in discussion with the firm about other options.
A spokesperson for Dewey emphasized that none of those “other options” included being laid off. But the firm is offering a severance package to those who wish to cut ties with Dewey and do something else.
It’s the season for firms to digest people that have been out on deferral, and we expect that season to be more than a little bit bumpy in a few places. If you want us to follow up on how your firm is handling its returning deferrees, drop us a line at [email protected].