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2019 Year In Review

The summer of 2019 saw a blockbuster run of financial services M&A, culminating in US$30 billion of deals run from our offices across the U.S., Europe and Asia. Despite all the political and market uncertainty, many of our clients still have an appetite for growth and investment.

Andrew J. Levander Chair, Dechert, and Henry N. Nassau, Chief Executive Officer, Dechert

We share that positive outlook, provided that businesses protect themselves from the ever-growing challenges of legal, regulatory and economic risks. This is where we believe that Dechert can make a tangible difference. Our focus remains on the most complex and challenging situations that our clients face, those areas that bring the most risks and require the most innovative thinking.

We continue to support our clients as they explore evolving markets such as fintech, permanent capital and private credit, which will continue to expand and create new opportunities and value into 2020 and beyond. In the U.S. and Europe, we have been advising clients on identifying LIBOR exposure and counseling them on maneuvering through the transition process, as well as preparing for possible litigation.

In the celebrated Calamos litigation, we helped our client defeat an unfounded claim that advisory fees breached fiduciary duties. This victory will help the mutual fund industry turn the tide of vexatious ‘excessive fee’ litigation and will be crucial in protecting the investment management sector’s competitiveness. On behalf of Walmart, our white collar team settled one of the largest FCPA investigations in history, and we continue to advise on the largest ongoing investigation in Europe.

Our product liability team secured huge trial wins for Pfizer in the Lipitor and Zoloft disputes. Going into 2020, we will be defending Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics in several large-scale multi-state PFOA related lawsuits across the U.S., as well as continuing to defend Purdue Pharma in some 1,300 opioid litigation cases aggregated in a multi-district litigation (MDL) in Ohio.

What binds these very different types of work, and makes Dechert such a formidable firm, is the quality of our lawyers and our culture. Dechert’s Culture Statement connects us with our clients, as it focuses on excellence in service, creative thinking and how we build community within the workplace.

Dechert 2019 Year in Review

Innovation through alternative providers and AI-driven tech remains at the forefront of many clients’ minds. In response to this demand, our technology team launched a number of transformative projects in 2019 that aim to enhance client service and save both time and resources.

In other key initiatives, we have rolled out a new gender-neutral U.S. parental leave policy that applies to all employees. Our SASS (Sponsorship and Sustained Support) program, launched by our Global Women’s Initiative, reflects Dechert’s commitment to the career development of our female associates and helps lawyers successfully navigate the path to partnership. In recognition of our commitment to building an inclusive firm that reflects the diversity of the world in which we practice, we have also achieved Mansfield Rule 2.0 Plus Certification.

We continue to encourage all our people to undertake service in the public interest. Over the past year, Dechert lawyers completed more than 80,000 hours pro bono as they worked to serve local communities and provide vital assistance to those most in need. That includes Willie Veasy, a Philadelphia man convicted of murder in 1993, who was cleared of all charges and freed this year thanks to Dechert’s James Figorski and Christine Levin, and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. This was one of the most emotional and inspiring stories in our recent history and an example of what we can achieve when we give our time and resources back to the communities across the world that we so proudly serve.

Strategic growth remains critical to Dechert’s success. The firm promotes and integrates star practitioners across practice areas and around the world, broadening and deepening our ability to serve our clients. We welcomed 16 new lateral partners across eight offices in the past 12 months, enhancing our presence in the economic centers that are most important to those clients. In 2019, we also elevated 11 new partners in six offices, reinforcing strategic strengths globally. As we continue to keep diversity and inclusion at the heart of who we are, we are delighted to see that six of those 11 and more than 70 percent of newly arrived lateral partners this year are women.

As we look to the year ahead, Dechert remains determined to move the needle further. We hope you enjoy reading about some of the highlights of 2019. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Andrew J. Levander
Chair

Henry N. Nassau
Chief Executive Officer

Signature Events

Gauguin Portraits exhibition

Facilitating debate on the most critical economic and political questions facing global business, Dechert hosts a number of events each year to engage with the business community and provide thought leadership and education around issues that keep our clients awake at night.

Our annual Investment Management Symposia, held in Los Angeles and San Francisco, brought together Dechert partners and leaders from the investment management and fintech industries to examine the evolving legal and regulatory environment across multiple panel discussions.

In London, 1,400+ people attended Funds Congress, the flagship global funds industry thought leadership and networking event, covering all asset classes and fund jurisdictions. Attended by CEOs, CIOs, key regulators and industry experts, Funds Congress focuses on key themes that will define the year ahead and is the ideal forum in which to discuss the effect of market developments on businesses. Our private funds group also holds an autumn legal retreat at Cambridge University, covering trends and best practices relating to fund structuring and operations.

The Dechert Distressed Investing Forum is a multi-panel program featuring discussions on opportunities for distressed investors in the U.S., Europe and emerging markets. It focuses on the areas that have the potential to create the most value for clients, which this year included participants from the firm’s restructuring, product liability and intellectual property groups. Each session included lively exchanges of points of view and discussions of the most important questions facing clients.

Offering insights into private credit and alternative asset diversification, Dechert’s Permanent & Private Capital Summit brought together fund sponsors, asset managers, credit investors and direct lenders for discussions on the shifting economic, financial and regulatory environment and its impact on the formation, financing and investment of permanent and private capital. The firm also hosts an annual Private Equity Reception which this year celebrated Dechert’s position at the forefront of the private equity industry for more than 35 years.

In December, Dechert hosted its global finance drinks reception at London’s National Gallery with an exclusive viewing of the Gauguin Portraits exhibition (above).

Photo credit
Paul Gauguin, Self-Portrait Dedicated to Carrière, 1888 or 1889; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC - Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon 1985.64.20; Images courtesy of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Our Most Significant Matters of 2019

  • Barings LLC, on numerous fund matters during 2019, including as fund formation counsel to a target US$2 billion global private equity fund focusing on investments in "real assets," as well as intangible assets such as copyrights and trademarks.
  • Calamos Advisors LLC (CAL), in a ruling that rejected a Section 36(b) claim brought by two Growth Fund shareholders.
  • Citi, in funding the world's biggest real estate buyout, which involved Blackstone’s acquisition of a major industrial warehouse portfolio from Singapore-based GLP.
  • CVS Health, in an antitrust merger trial that resulted in a court opinion clearing the company's merger with health insurer Aetna.
  • Endo Pharmaceuticals, in an ongoing series of putative class and individual private actions filed by indirect and direct purchasers of its pain relief drug OPANA ER.
  • Fannie Mae, in removing tax impediments to boost investment in U.S. housing.
  • Franklin Templeton Investment Management, in helping the creditor fight back against a restructuring.
  • Fresenius, in its US$2 billion acquisition of NxStage, the leading supplier of home dialysis machines.
  • Independent Directors Council (IDC), in an effort to modernize and streamline fund board directors’ duties in the U.S.
  • Knight Assets & Co, in securing the dismissal of claims connected to defamation proceedings in the New York Supreme Court.
  • Kymera Therapeutics, in an agreement with Vertex Pharmaceuticals that stands out as a potential game-changer in collaboration between biotech platforms and Big Pharma.
  • Managers and deal managers, in completing the first Sharjah issuance eligible for inclusion in JP Morgan’s emerging market bond indices (EMBI).
  • Republic of Colombia, in a US$600 million dispute over mining royalties.
  • Qoo10 Pte. Ltd, in acquiring ShopClues, one of India’s leading online retailers.
  • Quest Diagnostics, in its defense against Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, which had accused Quest of patent infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of a confidentiality agreement.
  • Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, in an ongoing defense against large-scale multi-state lawsuits in New York, New Hampshire and Vermont over the industrial chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
  • Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, in a deal involving the London Stock Exchange’s intention to acquire Refinitiv for US$27 billion.
  • SK Siltron Co., Ltd, in a US$450 million deal that involved U.S. chemicals conglomerate DuPont auctioning off its state-of-the-art silicon carbide (SiC) wafer production assets.
  • Starwood Capital Group, on the issuance of a US$1.1 billion commercial real estate collateralized loan obligation (CRE CLOs), one of the largest since the financial crisis.
  • Walmart, in helping bring an end to litigation involving investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission into alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

   

Rankings and Recognition

  • The Financial Times ranked Dechert as the most innovative firm for legal expertise in North America, 2019.
  • Law360 named Dechert to its Global 20 list of firms with the greatest global reach and expertise in 2019 – for the fifth consecutive year.
  • The securities litigation team was ranked “Standout” in the FT Innovative Lawyers Awards North America, 2019.
  • The New York Law Journal recognized Dechert for having the Product Liability Department of the Year.
  • Dechert was named the “Best Law Firm for CLO Managers” by Creditflux CLO Census, 2019, and the “Best Law Firm for CLOs” in the GlobalCapital Securitization Awards, 2019.
  • Dechert was recognized as having one of the world’s leading investigations practices in Global Investigations Review’s GIR 30 list, 2019.
  • The corporate team in Asia was winner of the “Private Equity Deal of the Year” in the International Financial Law Review Asia-Pacific Awards, 2019. 
  • Chambers Europe named Dechert the Most Outstanding Firm for Diversity and Inclusion.
  • Dechert was named one of the Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality, achieving a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index by the Human Rights Campaign.
  • Profiles in Diversity Journal honored Dechert with the Diversity Leader Award.
  • The National Association for Female Executives named Dechert one of the Top Companies for Executive Women.
  • Working Mother named Dechert among the Best Law firms for Women and one of the 2019 100 Best Companies.
  • Dechert was named one of the Top 10 Firms for Family Friendliness by Yale Law Women.
  • Dechert was recognized in The Financial Times – European Innovative Lawyers Awards, 2019. An international capital markets team (led by Patrick Lyons) won the “Accessing New Markets and Capital” category with a “Standout” ranking for its work on Sindicatum Renewables’ multi-tranche green bond denominated in Indian rupees and Philippine pesos.
  • CVS/Aetna was named “Deal of the Year” in The Deal Awards, 2019.
  • Dechert was awarded “Worldwide Funds Practice – Europe, US, Middle East and Asia” in the Hedge Fund Journal, 2019.
  • Dechert was winner of the “Best International Pro Bono Award” and joint winner of the “Best New Pro Bono Activity” in the LawWorks Pro Bono Awards, 2019.
  • Dechert was named to Global Competition Review’s Global Elite, 2019.
  • The international arbitration team was “Commended” by The Financial Times in its European Innovative Lawyers Awards, 2019, in the “Dispute Resolution” category.
  • A Dechert transaction was named “Private Equity Deal of the Year” in the International Financial Law Review's Asia-Pacific Awards, 2019.

   

Innovation at Dechert

In 2019, Dechert’s technology team launched a number of transformative projects that aim to enhance client service and save both time and resources for Dechert and its clients.

“Being ‘future-ready’ means not only using tech to maintain the class of service that clients expect,” says Michael Barrett, head of Dechert’s technology team, “but actively innovating to anticipate future change.”

An intelligent innovation strategy is one that challenges the status quo and is not afraid to experiment to find the best methods of delivering service to clients. In practice this has led to projects which embed software tools into common working processes, with sometimes startling results. One project has cut associate time for data analysis on a major client matter from around six weeks to half a day, freeing practitioners up for the more complex aspects of client work. In another project, Dechert is preparing an automation tool that can quickly review tens of thousands of documents to assist our clients in converting any LIBOR-related agreements efficiently and effectively.

The tech team works collaboratively with thought leader lawyers from each practice group to evaluate the tech that would best address core client needs. Products created from scratch to aid interaction with clients include a country comparison tool, which allows users to view a specific answer from multiple countries, and specialist Brexit risk analysis software. Clients have been positive about the launch of various online portals, such as the Private Client Group extranet site, which simplify business communications.

Looking ahead to prepare Dechert’s next generation of partners, tech tools have also been incorporated into junior associate programs to share the knowledge and experience of each individual through online programs and video training, so that clients benefit from the very best thinking in the firm.

   

Our People

Dechert is unwavering in its commitment to creating an environment where our people are empowered to perform at their best. We are a firm that cultivates creativity to harness the best ideas in client service, and we aim to create a shared enjoyment in all that we do.

  • Culture is central to the way we work, the way we interact with one another and with our clients, and how we manage matters.
  • We take great pride in delivering excellence in service. According to the Great Place to Work survey, 96 percent of our employees say our customers would rate the services we deliver as “excellent.”
  • We are committed to enabling our lawyers to perform to their full potential, as evidenced by our market-leading Critical Skills Institute and implementation of our global training curriculum.
  • The Critical Skills Institute is our in-house ‘university’ of training programs, offering customized learning on four skills which our extensive research has identified as critical success factors in lawyering – leadership, management, communications and client relations.
  • An in-house performance coach is available to work with our lawyers individually, on topics ranging from integration to skills advancement.
  • We have also made a concentrated investment into leadership training and optimal management of our client teams. An emphasis on inclusivity and the recognition of unconscious bias by firm leadership comes from the very top of our organization. We have launched intensive, ongoing Partner Inclusive Leadership Training with interactive sessions held every eight weeks since our Partners Retreat in 2018.
  • Dialogue and self-reflection have become a regular part of the partner conversations and bring the concepts of diversity and inclusion to life through raising awareness of unconscious biases in the workplace, giving participants a firm grasp of the competencies of an inclusive leader and providing strategies and practical tools for how to lead more inclusively.
  • Our Sponsorship and Sustained Support (or SASS) program further reflects our commitment to diversity and the career advancement of our female lawyers. SASS aims to do away with the glass ceiling women might encounter and brings a more diverse mix of individuals to firm leadership, by providing support in advance of the partnership consideration process. In the five years prior to its implementation, 18 percent of lawyers promoted to partner were women. In the five years since its implementation, 31 percent were women.

    

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