Dechert today unveiled its financial results for 2008, with the US firm posting reductions in both turnover and average profit per equity partner (PEP).

Total revenue at the Philadelphia-headquartered firm fell 2 per cent to $816m while PEP was down 9 per cent to $2.14m.

Pointing to the world economic slump that gathered pace in the final quarter of 2008, Dechert chairman Bart Winokur said, “For us to do well our clients need to do well, but since the fourth quarter of 2008, business has dropped precipitously”.

Winokur said Dechert derived around 50 per cent of its revenue from litigation in 2008, with white collar crime, product liability, antitrust and securities disputes all major contributors.

He admitted the firm’s corporate practice had had what he described as “an uneven year”, with revenue from the finance and real estate (FRE) group in particular taking a significant hit. In 2007 the FRE group contributed around 13 per cent of Dechert’s revenue. Last year it was closer to 6.5 per cent.

In response, Dechert laid off 13 associates it from its FRE group early last year, citing an insufficient demand for work (3 March 2008).

The layoffs were followed this month by a further round of redundancies when Dechert laid off 19 lawyers across its US network of offices (12 Feb 2009). The firm also laid off 72 support staff in December.