Dechert’s bonuses for 2009, though lower than those paid out for 2008, are in line with what market-setting Cravath Swaine & Moore announced in November.
In a memo obtained by The Legal Intelligencer, Chairman Barton J. Winokur told associates the class of 2008 would receive $7,500, the class of 2007 would get $10,000, the class of 2006 would receive $15,000, the class of 2005 would be paid $20,000, the class of 2004 would get $25,000 and the class of 2003 and more senior associates would receive $30,000.
And just for good measure, Dechert will pay for a super bonus to a few lucky associates:
According to the memo, associates with “exceptional performance” will receive bonuses up to $25,000 above the outlined grid “and in a couple of truly extraordinary circumstances even more.”
These may not be Wachtell Lipton bonuses, but I’m sure whoever receives Dechert’s largesse will not complain.
The firm also announced that it would make raises — for the most part.
However, a couple of Dechert offices will be taking a huge salary cut.
Although November is just around the corner, some 2009 summer associates are still learning about their fates. As one might expect given how late it is in the recruiting season, the news that comes around now isn’t always the happiest.
Above the Law has received reports that summer associates from McGuireWoods are now hearing back about offers. The interesting part is that the firm has apparently decided to make offers in waves, i.e., on a rolling basis.
One tipster tells us that approximately 11 out of 48 summers have received offers of full-time employment — thus far. The rest haven’t been rejected; rather, they’ve been placed on what amounts to a waitlist. Depending on how things unfold over the coming weeks and months, they might get offers — or they might not.
This “hiring in waves” approach is effectively what Dechert did. The firm made offers to about half of its summer class, but told the other half that they’d hear about offers in January 2010.
Comment from a source at the firm, after the jump.
We’re now into the back half of the brand new Vault law firm rankings. Just like last year, we worry about a proliferation of “TTT” accusations in the comment threads. But such terms of art can miss the positives of many of the firms in this section of the Vault rankings. Here’s the list:
51. Fulbright & Jaworski 52. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati 53. Morgan Lewis & Bockius 54. McDermott Will & Emery 55. Alston & Bird 56. Bingham McCutchen 57. Fish & Richardson 58. Dechert 59. Greenberg Traurig 60. Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft
We have already extensively talked about the Morgan Lewis situation. Let’s move on to other firms after the jump.
Let’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.
Dechert’s stealthiness when it comes to layoffs have been well documented in these pages. But it has been an open secret around the firm that another round of layoffs were coming. Above the Law has spoken to sources that have been talking about Dechert’s impending layoffs for nearly a month.
Today, the ax is finally falling. We don’t have official numbers (Dechert has ignored our numerous requests for comment), but we have information suggesting that around 25 associates are being let go today. In addition to the associates, other tipsters report that “a bunch” of paralegals have been laid off, as well as some staff attorneys and legal secretaries.
Sources report that the pain is being spread between Dechert’s Mass Torts and Product Liability group (about a dozen attorneys) and its general litigation practice (another dozen or so attorneys).
We also understand that the vast majority of cuts affected 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year lawyers.
Today’s moves are the culmination of weeks of planning at Dechert.
More details after the jump.
As we’ve been reporting on layoffs, salary freezes and salary cuts, some disgruntled associates have suggested in the comments that partners should share more in the pain. Well, they are. In addition to PPP taking a hit due to revenue declining, de-equitizing partners now seems to be an option (and is rumored to have already happened at Jenner & Block, for example). Barton J. Winokur, chairman and CEO of Dechert, is stepping up to the pain plate voluntarily. The firm has laid off attorneys and staff in the past few months, but firm leaders have taken a hit too. Winokur, for example, is taking a $1 million pay cut, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Winokur disclosed the self-imposed pay cut, actually a reduction in his draw from firm profits, at a super-secret gathering of big-firm leaders organized by Thomson Reuters in Pebble Beach, Calif., in late April.
Typically, there is no press at this yearly conclave. An absence of publicity ensures its near-invisibility – and the candor of law-firm leaders, which Winokur apparently supplied in abundance.
In addition to his salary cut, Winokur emphasized that other Dechert leaders had taken similar hits.
The Inquirer points out though that Winokur took home $8 million the year before. But, hey, a 12 percent pay cut is still pretty substantial. And $1 million will probably be a larger percentage of his total take home this year as it’s not likely to be as good as last year. The first fiscal quarter was an ugly one. Law Review: A law-firm CEO cuts his own pay [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Remember when being a staff attorney was a viable option in the Biglaw universe? As we have previously reported, many big firms are laying off their staff attorneys. Today, Dechert adds its name to that growing trend.
Within the past few hours, we received a number of tips about staff attorney layoffs at Dechert.
Our sources tell us that Dechert will lay off 10 staff attorneys today. The number accounts for about 1/4th of the firm’s total staff attorney force.
Dechert laid off 19 attorneys two weeks ago, and 72 staffers back in December. So this news should not be particularly surprising.
But it is another indication that the economic crisis is taking a toll on all types of Biglaw employment.
Good luck to the 10 staff attorneys leaving Dechert.
Cutbacks are hitting every level of Biglaw. Firms have gotten very creative in their attempts to wither cut or control costs. Because of all these rollbacks, weathering the global economic crisis is more challenging than simply holding on to your job — though that is hard enough.
How is the economic crisis affecting people day-to-day? We received an interesting story from a Biglaw staffer that really brings home the daily struggle to make it through this recession:
Last year Dechert sent out that retroactive memo about taking a certain percentage from the attorneys’ bonuses if they didn’t enter their time on time. Well, now they are saying that they are going to do it to the paralegals as well, BUT since most paralegals don’t get bonuses, they are threatening to take five percent from our vacation pay if we don’t qualify for a bonus and if we are late entering our time. I only make about $120 a day (in New York City!), so if the partners, who are making millions, want to take $6.00 from a struggling paralegal, that is just disgusting. …
Do any other firms treat their staff [like this]?
Dechert aside (and for the record, we don’t know if this story is an accurate reflection of Dechert’s policies on this specific issue), what other kinds of everyday, “standard of living” sacrifices are people having to make in these difficult times? Contrary to the popular belief, bonuses and pay raises don’t really go into the “coke and prostitutes” fund.
Are associates reorganizing their debt repayment plans? Are paralegals putting off plans to go back to school, or accelerating those plans? Beyond the dollars and statistics, there is a very real cost to all of the bad economic news.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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