Dechert has until close of business tomorrow (Tuesday 4 March) to learn how many of the 13 associates it laid off from its finance and real estate (FRE) group last week accept its offer of an internal transfer.
Last Friday (29 February) in an email to the firm, Dechert chairman Bart Winokur confirmed there was insufficient work for all of the 167 associates in its FRE group.
Winokur added: “As a consequence, we have told 13 associates in the US FRE group that we see no demand for them in that group in the foreseeable future. However, due to increased and substantial demand in other practice areas, we will be offering those lawyers the opportunity to work in those other groups.”
The firm has given all 13 the option of staying at Dechert but transferring to other groups. These are thought to include product liability and litigation.
The associates would then have the option of staying at Dechert for 60 days, at which point the new positions could either become permanent or the lawyers would be forced to accept the available severance packages.
Alternatively, the associates can immediately accept the three-month’s severance pay they have been offered, along with six months paid medical benefits and transition placement support.
A source inside the firm said there was no way of knowing how many would accept the offer of a transfer until tomorrow, although a number is believed to have already walked.
“Although relatively speaking this is a small group of people this is still a very sensitive matter, and we don’t want to be screaming at people at 3pm tomorrow asking, ‘what’s your decision’,” the source said.
The group is believed to include all levels of associates and several of Dechert’s offices.