Layoffs continue to plague Biglaw, with some firms still attempting to slim down despite a slight uptick in demand year-over-year. Some firms have even decided to defer the start dates of their incoming associate classes to lighten their load when it comes to attorney head count. Today, we have news on a firm that’s offering its incoming associates an optional deferral.
Back in May, Dechert — a firm that brought in $1,288,692,000 gross revenue in 2022, putting it at No. 36 in the most recent Am Law 100 — announced a global reduction in force. At the time, the firm let go about 5% of its total workforce, including attorneys and business professionals.
According to Bloomberg Law, Dechert has now announced an optional deferral program, offering some of its soon-to-be first-years the ability to push their start date from 2024 to 2025. If those who accept the deferral choose to work with a nonprofit entity through the firm, they’ll be awarded a $75,000 stipend. Bloomberg has additional details:
The associates who accept a deferment would start at the firm in fall 2025, a Dechert spokesperson confirmed Friday. Those that choose to work for a pro bono or nonprofit organization through Dechert will receive a $75,000 stipend and benefits, the spokesperson said.
“While there is a spot for all should they chose to start in the fall of 2024, we created the opportunity for up to 20 Summer Associates to defer for a year and come back in the fall of 2025,” a firm spokesperson said in an email to Bloomberg Law. “They are welcome to explore, study, travel or experience another opportunity.”
Keep in mind that only those incoming associates who choose to work for a nonprofit through the firm will receive a stipend (of less than half of their projected first-year salaries) as well as benefits. Those who opt to take the deferral to pursue other opportunities won’t receive those perks. That being the case, will Dechert’s incoming first-years choose to take the money and run into the welcoming arms of a nonprofit, or join the firm on time in 2024? Only time will tell.
Best of luck to all affected incoming associates at Dechert — they have quite the decision to make.
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Dechert Is Giving Summer Associates Option to Delay 2024 Start [Bloomberg Law]
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter and Threads or connect with her on LinkedIn.