Readers have demanded more information about the so-called “stealth layoffs” at Dechert. Finally, we have additional information to report.
Readers, commenters, tipsters, recruiters, employees, and the Virgin Mary who appeared to me in a breakfast grapefruit are all reporting that a number of associates will be laid off at the end of this month. These layoffs have nothing to do with the March departures from the firm, and contradict the firm’s official statements on the matter.
As best we can tell, no less than 10 and no more than 30 associates were told at the end of July that they would be laid off in 3 months. According to one tipster:
Effectively we were told that we can come in to work, but do not have to, and we can tell the recruiters and places where we interview that we still have a job at Dechert. Now, at the end of the three months our salaries would stop coming. These three months was our severance. At the same time the partners did absolutely nothing to help us locate jobs because most were too afraid to do anything.
As many of you know, Gina Passarella of the Legal Intelligencer was able to speak at length (free version) with Dechert Chairman Bart Winokur. Mr. Winokur declined to speak with ATL directly, but in the Intelligencer article he does not really deny that associates were asked to “move on” in this manner. Instead, the Intelligencer reports:
“In my view, layoffs are when you decide to cut head count,” Winokur said. “It’s not when you decide to replace people with better people.”
Winokur said the culture of the firm is to improve year over year and when people reach a point of seniority and still aren’t getting better, the firm will sometimes tell them they don’t have a future at Dechert.
Whatever advantages there are to stealth layoffs are pretty much destroyed when your firm chairman starts talking about replacing people “with better people.” People we’ve talked to have emphasized that the firm is doing nothing to help associates put on notice find new jobs.
Even if you look at all of the evidence in the light least favorable to the firm, it doesn’t look like the number of July/October layoffs rise to the level that has been mentioned by some of our commenters.
But, there might be some other stealth moves going on. Read more after the jump.