Diversity and Inclusion are at the core of Dechert’s culture and business strategy. They shape the firm’s Personal Commitments and Guiding Principles. Our core values underscore our inclusive approach and embody our commitment to our work, clients and talent. With these principles in mind, we strive to:
- Maintain an inclusive environment that cultivates and values different backgrounds and perspectives.
- Harness the power of difference to enrich our relationships with clients through diverse and talented teams.
- Create equal and fair access to all aspects of firm life.
- Uphold our commitment to diversity by being a leader in the legal industry through innovation and sustained diligence.
Juneteenth: An opportunity to reflect, learn and act
Dechert's U.S. offices will close early on June 19 to commemorate Juneteenth, the day on which the last slaves in the United States were freed. The firm has assembled resources for all of our employees to learn about and reflect upon the effects of systemic racism. The following includes excerpts from an internal memo sent to all Dechert employees by policy committee chair Andrew Levander and CEO Henry Nassau on June 12:
Around the U.S. and the world, protests continue calling for an end to police brutality, and for equality and justice. We can no longer simply express our apologies for the things that appall us. We must commit to change, starting with educating ourselves.
To help give ourselves time to so, we are commemorating Juneteenth - Friday, June 19 - as a special day for our firm. Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, the date the last U.S. slaves in a Confederate state were freed, when federal troops arriving in Texas brought news of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Beginning at noon on June 19, we are closing U.S. operations early. We are encouraging our people to invest this time in exploring, learning about and discussing the tragic deaths of George Floyd and others, the events of the last few weeks and the history of injustice and struggle that preceded them. We hope it’s a peaceful and restful day, but also that it gives you an opportunity for self-reflection and a better understanding of the issues and urgency of this moment.
Beyond our own self-reflection, we must drive change through our actions. Our pro bono team and others are working hard to mobilize options for all of our people to contribute their energy and talents to the issues that matter, ranging from criminal justice reform to voting rights and more.
“This is 2020. Enough is enough. The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough.” So said Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, in testimony before Congress.
The time for change is now, and each of us has a role to play. Thank you, and stay safe.
Bringing our community together
A message from Andy Levander (Chair) and Henry Nassau (CEO)
Dechert holds as a guiding principle a commitment to building an inclusive firm that reflects the diversity of the world in which we practice. In this statement shared last week with our community, policy committee chair Andrew Levander and CEO Henry Nassau reaffirm that commitment and to fighting systemic racism.
As the world struggles with the Coronavirus pandemic, recent events conspired to remind us of the persistence of one of our society’s oldest diseases: racism. It is a condition that infects our most important institutions, that has often proven virulent in its effects, and that continues even now to resist our efforts to end its destructive influence.
We are saddened, angered, and even overwhelmed by the recent series of horrifying events that call attention to the racial divisions in our communities. This should not be the reality that any of us have to face in America or any other country. Communities around the U.S. and the globe have risen up to express their outrage and demand justice. We support their right to protest lawfully, as the ability to stand for right and against injustice is an indispensable component of freedom.
This is a painful and fraught moment in history, but we cannot give in to despair. Many of our colleagues are personally affected by these recent events and have too often experienced discrimination in their own lives. We must respond in the way that we as a community always do: listen and support one another and, just as when our clients’ problems are more difficult than expected, we work harder. The search for justice has always been fueled and enabled by the law. We cannot turn away now simply because the task has become more complicated, or will take longer than we anticipated.
Our firm has worked hard to contribute to the positive resolution of these issues through, among other initiatives, the work of our pro bono program. We will continue to do this work, and to support other organizations that have dedicated themselves to cleansing our legal systems of unlawful bias. We also must continue to join our colleagues, our clients and our communities in standing up for what’s right – affirming that, without exception, black lives matter and that no person should be deprived of their life or their liberty because of the color of their skin, ever. And we must continue to do the hard work of challenging our own biases and assumptions – on race, as well as ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation – and holding ourselves and our Firm accountable.
We have asked our Diversity and Inclusion Committee to marshal the firm’s available resources – to spark more discussions about the role we can play in fighting systemic racism – and to take a hard look at what else we need to do to further our efforts.
Like so many of you, we are deeply concerned, but the arc of history is long, and we remain convinced that a fairer and more just world will emerge from these crises. We remain committed to doing our part, and will continue our efforts to make Dechert the best place it can be. We encourage you to stay safe, wish the best for your families, and look forward to the day when we can resume working shoulder to shoulder to advance our mission.
- Andy Levander and Henry Nassau
Black Lives Matter
A message from Abbi Cohen (Deputy Chair of Diversity & Inclusion) and Alison Bernard (Chief Talent and Human Resources Officer)
Like so many of you, we are horrified by the atrocities that continue to be committed against black people in the US and around the globe. The tragedies inflicted on George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others are unconscionable. The impact of racism and the disregard for human life is an unbearable concept for so many of us, but a part of the daily existence for many of our friends and colleagues. Many of us do not know and have not experienced this kind of fear for our safety, nor have we suffered the daily aggressions that are commonplace for so many based solely on the color of their skin.
We can no longer simply express our apologies for the things that appall us. We must commit to change, starting with education. We must individually take responsibility for learning more. The diversity and inclusion team has assembled many resources that are a starting point, and we are lining up several renowned experts to speak with us. Please join these meetings and commit to learning more. We must also examine and challenge our own biases on a daily basis. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.” We must be more courageous in our self-reflection, and continue to learn about that which we do not see yet.
Beyond our own self-reflection, we must drive change through our actions. The pro bono team and others are working hard to mobilize many options on the pro bono and volunteer front, so that lawyers and business services professionals can take action. We encourage you to get involved fighting for systemic change.
We have been and will continue to host internal forums to make safe spaces for our black colleagues to share their grief and experiences with one another. We will also host an internal town hall that will be open to all. We encourage you to share your questions and thoughts, but listening to one another is the key.
We will soon have a webpage up on the intranet that highlights opportunities, educational resources, and upcoming meetings. But what the website will be missing is what we think is the most important part- we can all do more to support one another through our daily interactions. We ask each of you to spend some time reaching out to colleagues to show support, empathy, care and concern. Our daily interactions and how we treat one another are at the core of a person’s experience in our community. Let’s be sure we are being inclusive, thoughtful and kind to everyone each day. We end with a short poem by Alison Malee:
What a simple way to tell another struggling soul
that there is love to be found in the world.
- Abbi Cohen and Alison Bernard
- Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Dechert has a firmwide, partner-led Diversity and Inclusion Committee, a senior management-level Deputy Chair, Abbi Cohen, and a full-time Diversity and Inclusion Director to oversee policies and procedures that support diversity and inclusion. The Director is part of the firm’s Global Talent Team and is responsible for strategic oversight and implementation of the firm's diversity and inclusion initiatives.
- Affinity Groups
Dechert’s affinity groups support the development and retention of diverse attorneys and educate others about the history and traditions of their cultures. To effect change, affinity groups identify and address diversity and inclusion-related issues, and create new and recurring programming focused on the attainment of professional and business development skills. They offer enhanced mentoring opportunities, retreats and educational workshop for diverse attorneys. Reaching beyond Dechert, affinity groups engage with our communities through advocacy and pro bono. Finally, the groups present a variety of speaker programs in our legal and business community. Our affinity groups include:
- Asian Affinity Group
- Black Lawyers Alliance
- Dechert Family Network
- Dechert Heroes (Veteran Affinity Group)
- Greater Middle Eastern Alliance
- Latino Affinity Group
- LGBTQ Affinity Group
Our affinity groups host events throughout the year. Some recent notable events included:
- The Asian Affinity Group hosted local office events to celebrate the Lunar New Year and Diwali. In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the group hosted a conversation with Maulik Pancholy, an award-winning actor, author, and activist whose career has spanned hit television shows, animated series, the Broadway stage and films.
- The Black Lawyers Alliance has been active in supporting the firm’s Stand Against Racism Town Hall and Speaker Series, to address recent events related to racism and social justice, as well as how to deal with it from a mental health perspective. The group celebrated Black History Month by hosting a conversation on human dignity and criminal justice reform in America with Kevin Richardson, a member of the Exonerated Five, also known as the Central Park Five.
- The Veteran Affinity Group, Dechert Heroes, celebrated Veterans Day by hosting Sergeant Jake Wood, USMC, co-founder and CEO of Team Rubicon, a nonprofit organization that recruits, trains and deploys military veterans to disaster zones around the world. He is also the author of Take Command and Once A Warrior.
- Dechert’s Latino Affinity Group celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by hosting a presentation with David Lamb, award-winning producer and playwright of the ground-breaking, long-running off-Broadway hit “Platanos Y Collard Greens,” based on Lamb’s book Do Platanos Go Wit’ Collard Greens? The play and the book explore the relationship between African-Americans and Latinos.
- The LGBTQ Affinity Group celebrated Pride Month with a virtual discussion with Mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Victory Institute, and the first openly LGBTQ mayor of a major U.S. city, Houston, Texas. The year prior, the group welcomed Judy and Dennis Shepard, the parents of Matthew Shepard, whose tragic murder in 1998 galvanized a worldwide response against hate crimes and in support of the LGBTQ community.
- Global Women's Initiative
Dechert’s Global Women’s Initiative (GWI) empowers women to succeed by fostering an environment that provides opportunities for development, advancement and leadership within the firm. Members of the GWI meet regularly with firm leadership to identify and implement initiatives that promote opportunities for women to advance and take on leadership roles throughout the firm.
Among Dechert’s initiatives that focus on women are formal and informal mentoring, development training, internal and external networking, special interest events, and leadership training. The GWI launched the Sponsorship and Sustained Support Program for senior women associates to help navigate the path to partnership. Local GWI Chapters host welcome receptions for new women associates and business and legal community events, including networking events for International Women’s Day.
For more information, visit our Global Women’s Initiative Page.
- LGBTQ Allies Program
Dechert’s LGBTQ Allies Program was developed to support our LGBTQ colleagues. Participation in the Dechert program is voluntary and open to everyone. Allies receive training and a decal identifying them as an ally in the office. The decal is displayed on office doors and serves as a visible show of support for our LGBTQ colleagues.
Dechert operates 26 global offices and our 900+ lawyers speak more than 40 languages. This international and diverse environment enriches all of our lawyers and maximizes our success.
An integral part of Dechert’s culture is to recruit, develop and promote diverse talent. We actively recruit diverse associates, counsel and partners in the lateral market. Senior diverse laterals bring new ideas and leadership. Their presence complements our overall diversity efforts and provides junior associates with additional resources for support.
- Professional Development
Dechert is committed to supporting and developing our diverse and women lawyers. Programs include:
Dechert holds a two-day Diversity Symposium for diverse associates, designed to help associates cultivate a wider professional and support network and to connect directly with firm leaders. By utilizing a 360° framework to explore career and life strategies for success and development, participants receive intensive exposure to advice, practical guidance, clients and inspiration, through lectures, workshops, networking and more.
Lunch and Learn Empowerment Series for Diverse Associates
The firm’s Lunch and Learn Empowerment Series provides an opportunity for diverse associates to share knowledge and skills gleamed from external workshops and professional development programs with diverse associates and counsel at Dechert. The sessions are held every two months and often include guest contributors from the partnership ranks.
The firm’s Sponsorship and Sustained Support (SASS) program, launched in 2015, is designed to help women associates navigate the path to partnership. SASS provides targeted individual and small group support, which includes general information sessions; skill-level appropriate training; individualized attention from Dechert partners; access to consultants and advisors; and networking opportunities. In the five years prior to its implementation, 18% of lawyers promoted to partner were women. In the five years since its implementation, 31% were women.
- Mansfield Rule
Dechert has achieved Mansfield Rule 3.0 Plus Certification for 2020. This certification recognizes law firms that have increased the representation of historically underrepresented lawyers in law firm leadership by broadening the pool of women, lawyers of color and LGBTQ+ lawyers who are considered for significant governance roles, senior lateral openings and promotions. In addition, Dechert achieved Mansfield “Plus” status, which means that the firm reached at least 30% diverse lawyer representation in a notable number of current leadership roles and committees.
Dechert has signed on for Mansfield Rule 4.0 Certification, which runs from July 2020 to July 2021.
- Community and Social Responsibility
Community and social responsibility drives impactful change in our communities, inspires our actions as societal leaders, and instills great pride in knowing that we are making a difference. We impact our communities through our signature initiatives: pro bono, board service, Dechert Days of Service, and involvement in Inspiring Girls International.
- Pro Bono
Dechert has a longstanding tradition of providing pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations who cannot otherwise afford legal counsel. Lawyers in all offices and in all practice groups make a difference every day by providing pro bono legal services aimed at combating discrimination and ensuring access to justice for all.
At Dechert, we strive to find projects that make a difference in our communities and match the interests and skill sets of our lawyers. Some of the major substantive areas in which we advocate on behalf of our pro bono clients include civil rights, criminal, death penalty, family law, human rights, immigration, landlord/tenant, nonprofit and charity advice, prisoners’ rights, public benefits, special education, veterans and voting rights.
Challenging Wrongful Imprisonment
Through our ongoing partnership with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, a team of Dechert attorneys successfully represented our client in gaining his freedom after serving 24 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. When our client was 16 years old, he was convicted of murder, despite sworn testimony by both him and his mother that they were at The Youth Study Center at the same time as the murder. The sign-in logs at the Center had vanished by the time of the trial. Despite other missing evidence, evidence concealed from the defense, and questionable and unreliable witnesses, our client remained in prison without hope until the Innocence Project with Dechert's help took the case. Our client’s murder conviction was vacated by the courts and steps are in motion to expunge his record of conviction.
Promoting Human Rights Around the World
In partnership with Oxfam GB, Dechert leads a pro bono research project in Africa called “Raising Her Voice.” Our lawyers coordinate with volunteers from other firms and chambers to undertake a legal analysis of the state of implementation of the Maputo Protocol, a bill of rights for women developed by African leaders. Among other rights, the Protocol guarantees women the right to take part in political processes, enjoy social and political equality with men, and control their reproductive health. The ultimate goal is to expand the research to all 36 ratifying countries and to publish the reports on International Women’s Day to help ensure that the rights enshrined in the Protocol are concretely implemented in all jurisdictions.
Providing Educational Stability for Children with Autism
A team in our Philadelphia office successfully represented parents of children with autism challenging a school district’s process of transferring these students to different schools without parental input or adequate notice. A court held that the procedure violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, noting that an unplanned transition for children with autism is likely to have a negative impact on their learning.
Expanding Social Impact Investment Around the World
Social impact investing — the utilization of private investment capital as a resource for creating social change — has emerged in the 21st century as a revolutionary approach to philanthropy. Investments are made in companies, organizations and funds with the intent to generate measurable social or environmental impact (alongside a financial return). Our lawyers have negotiated the terms of many such investments and established several social investment funds around the world. The infusion of money from these deals has backed the creation of innovative projects such as remote medical services for the rural poor in India and an employment initiative for women garment makers in Liberia.
Helping an Alzheimer’s Patient Escape Violence in Iraq
Through our longstanding partnership with The List Project, we represented a 73-year-old Iraqi man, father of another Dechert client (an Iraqi who worked as a translator for a U.S. military contractor in Iraq and received asylum in the United States in 2010 with our assistance). After the father was assaulted in Iraq and his and his son’s lives were threatened, we successfully expedited his resettlement case. Our client was reunited with his son in Virginia, where he is receiving treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Dechert Days of Service
On Dechert’s Days of Service, our offices come together to make an impact in our local communities. We focus on projects that strengthen our communities and make our cities better places for all residents.
Some organizations we recently partnered with include:
- Aids Walk NY
- Operation Backpack
- Sharing Shelf
- American Heart Association's Lawyers Have a Heart 10K Run and Fun Walk
- NY/NJ Baykeeper
- Midnight Missions
- Special Olympics
- Toys for Tots
- NY Cares Winter Wishes
- Capital Area Food Bank
- Inspiring Girls International
Dechert is a gold sponsor for Inspiring Girls International, a charity dedicated to raising the aspirations of young girls around the world by connecting them with female role models. The organization, founded by former Dechert partner Miriam Gonzalez, aims to expose young girls (10-15 years old) to a full variety of jobs, roles and options for their professional lives to inspire them to aim high.
Since its inception in the UK in 2014, the initiative has recruited more than 25,000 female volunteers, reached out to more than 250,000 school girls, and held more than 50 high profile events across the country. Most recently, the charity built upon its popular #RedrawtheBalance campaign by creating a video highlighting gender bias in the animation industry. It was launched on the eve of International Women’s Day in March 2017.
Inspiring Girls has continued to expand its efforts by opening branches in Brazil, Chile, Italy, Spain, Serbia and Zambia. Dechert provides office space for the organization’s headquarters in London, as well as pro bono legal advice.
- Board Service and Support for Nonprofit Organizations
In addition to pro bono matters, we support charitable and nonprofit organizations that celebrate, support or help advance rights for women, people of color, or LGBTQ individuals. Many of our lawyers hold significant roles in bar organizations and other community groups with a focus on diversity and inclusion issues.
A few of the national and local organizations we support include:
- The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY)
- Lambda Legal Defense Fund
- Latino Justice (PRLDEF)
- The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
Dechert is a founding member of the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group (PDLG) and a member of The Boston Lawyers Group (BLG).
Dechert is a signatory to The Statement of Goals for Increasing Minority Representation and Retention and The Call to Action for the Retention and Promotion of Women Attorneys adopted by the New York City Bar Association and Philadelphia Bar Association.
- Most Outstanding Firm for Diversity and Inclusion – Chambers Europe, 2019
- Perfect score in the corporate equity index (CEI) and named one of the best places to work for LGBTQ equality – Human Rights Campaign, 2020
- Diversity Leader Award – Profiles in Diversity Journal, 2020
- Diversity Team Award – Profiles in Diversity Journal, 2020
- Innovations in Diversity Award Winner – Profiles in Diversity Journal, 2020
- Top Companies for Executive Women – National Association for Female Executives, 2020
- Named a “Great Place to Work” – 2020
- Leading Inclusion Index Company on the Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index – Working Mother, 2020
- 100 Best Companies – Working Mother, 2020
- Best Law Firms for Women – Working Mother, 2020
- Best Companies for Dads – Working Mother, 2020
- Commendation for Diversity Award – LawCareers.Net, 2019
- All Star Awards for Performance in Recruiting Outstanding Diverse Talent – Aspiring Solicitors, 2019
Equal Employment Opportunity
Dechert LLP is committed to ensuring equal employment opportunity and non discrimination. The firm prohibits unlawful discrimination in any term or condition of employment against any employee or applicant for employment because of the individual’s race, color, creed, religion, sex, age, marital status, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, disability, membership or service in the armed forces, or any other characteristic protected by law.We are proud of our organization and want every employee at the Firm to feel welcome with an equal opportunity to excel. Thank you for your interest in Dechert LLP.