|No. of offices||27 total (14 international)|
|No. of attorneys||approximately 900 (2013)|
|Major practice areas||General practice|
|Key people||CEO Daniel O'Donnell,
Chairman Andrew J. Levander
|Founder||Wayne MacVeagh and George Tucker Bispham|
|Company type||Limited liability partnership|
Dechert LLP is an international law firm of more than 900 lawyers with top-ranked practices in corporate and securities, complex litigation, finance and real estate, and financial services and asset management. Dechert has offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It was founded in Philadelphia and is registered as a limited liability partnership under Pennsylvania law.
The firm's first predecessor was formed in 1875 by Wayne MacVeagh and George Tucker Bispham. MacVeagh had previously served as United States Ambassador to Turkey, and went on to become United States Attorney General under President James Garfield and also United States Ambassador to Italy during the 1890s. Bispham was made a professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1884. Another future U.S. Attorney General, Francis Biddle, also a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, joined the firm in 1916. In its early years, the firm represented a number of banks, railroads, and coal companies.
During World War II, the firm lost many of its attorneys to the war effort, and combined with another Philadelphia-based law firm, Dechert, Smith & Clark, which had been founded in 1930. The firm began creating specialized practice groups shortly after the war. After a series of name changes in the early 1960s, the firm decided not to change its name whenever its most senior partners retired or died; it remained Dechert, Price & Rhoads for several decades thereafter.
During the 1980s, Dechert represented Getty Oil Company in its acquisition by Texaco. This is the deal that led to the notorious Pennzoil v. Texaco case, which resulted in a Texas state court verdict for Pennzoil for $10.53 billion, forcing Texaco to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Dechert opened its first European office in Brussels in 1968. Four years later, Dechert opened a London office. The firm established a presence in Paris in 1995 and undertook a major expansion in the United Kingdom through a merger with Titmuss Sainer Dechert, a leading London law firm, in 2000. Since then, Dechert has opened offices in Luxembourg (2001), Munich (2004), Hong Kong (2007), Beijing (2008), Moscow (2009), Dublin (2010), Los Angeles (2011), Frankfurt (2012), Almaty (2012), Dubai (2012), Tbilisi (2012), Chicago (2012) and Singapore 2014.
The firm's core practices are corporate and securities, with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and corporate finance; litigation, emphasizing antitrust, product liability, and white collar and securities defense; finance and real estate, with a focus on mortgage finance, structured finance, securitization, and investment; financial services, focusing on mutual funds, hedge funds, variable products, broker-dealer, commodities, derivatives, and investment advisers; and intellectual property, emphasizing patent litigation, IP prosecution and licensing, off-shoring and outsourcing, and privacy and data protection.
The firm also has well-established practices in tax, bankruptcy, employment, health, energy and environmental law, and international trade. The firm has a particularly comprehensive life sciences group.
Notable lawyers and alumni
- Harvey Bartle III, chief judge of the United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Joseph S. Clark, mayor of Philadelphia (1952–56) and United States senator for Pennsylvania (1957–69)
- Graham Francis Defries, co-creator of the Queens Counsel comic strip
- Q. Todd Dickinson, former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property
- Glenn Fine, former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Justice
- Miriam González Durántez, head of international trade practice
- Paul G. Haaga, Jr., vice chairman of Capital Research and Management Company, a constituent company of the Capital Group Companies
- Edward A. McDonald, portrayed himself as a federal prosecutor in Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas"
- Mary A. McLaughlin, judge for the United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Lisa Scottoline, best selling New York Times author
- Norma Levy Shapiro, first woman partner and retired judge for the United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Arlen Specter, United States senator for Pennsylvania
- Scooter Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (2001-2005)
- Cheryl Ann Krause, United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Pro bono activities
Dechert has been recognized among the top 10 U.S. law firms for pro bono work in The American Lawyer's Pro Bono Survey, an annual report which rates the nation's 200 highest grossing law firms based on their level of pro bono activity. The report measures the average number of pro bono hours per lawyer as well as the percentage of lawyers who performed more than 20 hours of pro bono work. In August 2014, Dechert received the American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award.
In 2011, Dechert lawyers averaged 101.4 hours of pro bono work, with 92.8% completing more than 20 pro bono hours. Suzanne Turner, chair of the firm's pro bono practice, was also noted for her groundbreaking efforts to increase pro bono work globally, including roundtables she has convened for U.S. and U.K. firms in Munich, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong since 2007.
"In many parts of the world, including the United States, the legal needs of the poor continue to go unmet," said Turner. "Dechert’s pro bono program aspires to play a role in narrowing that justice gap and ensuring that individuals and organizations, who otherwise would not be able to afford a lawyer, receive legal assistance."
Dechert lawyers handle pro bono matters covering issues such as civil rights, international human rights, child advocacy, special education, access to public benefits, asylum, landlord-tenant matters and the representation of numerous nonprofit organizations. Since 2004, Dechert attorneys have been filing habeas corpus petitions on behalf of captives held in extrajudicial detention by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay. Recent pro bono successes include securing a settlement on behalf of voting rights groups and individuals in Georgia for the state's failure to comply with the National Voter Registration Act; achieving a class action settlement on behalf of inmates in Passaic County, NJ to correct unconstitutional and inhumane conditions at the Passaic County Jail; launching private investment funds on behalf of the Eleos Foundation, a non-profit organization that invests in and partners with social entrepreneurs to help eradicate poverty in developing nations; and reuniting an Iraqi interpreter for the U.S. military with her two sons as part of a partnership with the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies.
Dechert is a signatory to the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® and is also a signatory to the United Kingdom's Joint Protocol for Pro Bono Legal Work. The firm annually dedicates three percent of its total billable hours to pro bono work and requires all U.S.-based attorneys to perform a minimum of 25 hours of pro bono work per year.
Dechert has received the following awards in recognition of its pro bono achievements:
- The American Lawyer’s annual Pro Bono Scorecard
- Citizens Bank Pro Bono Award (Philadelphia)
- City Bar Justice Center’s Jeremy G. Epstein Award for Pro Bono Service
- First Judicial District’s Pro Bono Roll of Honor
- The Legal Intelligencer and Volunteers for the Indigent Program’s Unsung Hero Award
- National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty's Pro Bono Counsel Award
- National Legal Aid & Defender Association's 2011 Beacon of Justice Award
- New York Legal Aid Society’s Pro Bono Publico Award
- Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program’s Chancellor Award and Silver Gavel Award
- Dechert company profile by Gale Group, courtesy of Answers.com
- Caulfield, Christine."Law 360 Picks 10 Pro Bono Standouts", Law360, 24 November 2010
- "Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge Signatories List", Pro Bono Institute.
- “Protocol Signatories”, Law Works.
- "Pro Bono", DechertLLP
- "Pro Bono Report 2011", The American Lawyer
- "Two Philadelphia Law Firms and Executive Director of Community Legal Services to Receive Prestigious Philadelphia Bar Foundation Awards", Reuters, 28 October 2009
- "City Bar Justice Center Announces Winners of Third Annual Jeremy G.Epstein Awards for Pro Bono Service", City Bar Justice Center
- "First Judicial District 'Roll of Honor' for Pro Bono Service", Philadelphia Bar Association, 28 January 2011
- "2012 Unsung Heroes", The Legal Intelligencer, 27 March 2010
- "In Just Times", National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, October 2010
- "Awards", National Legal Aid & Defender Association
- "The Legal Aid Society's 2011 Pro Bono Publico Awards", The Legal Aid Society
- "Volunteer Awards", Philly VIP