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Law firms have always gone out of their way to attract and impress new legal talent. Trips to baseball games, concerts and plays, river cruises and parties at senior partners’ houses have often been headline agenda items. But while one might think firms are curbing such activities during the economic slowdown, Dechert has taken this pattern to a new level by expanding its summer associate program to include a trip to London. Most of the firm’s U.S.-based summer associates departed Tuesday and will return on Sunday. “We picked London in order to showcase our London offices,” Dechert hiring partner Fred Herold said. “It is also a better way to have seminars, meetings and discussions.” All 65 of the firm’s U.S. summer associates were invited to take the trip, but only 53 will be able to attend due to scheduling conflicts. While the sagging economy has forced Dechert to cut the number of summer associates hired in Philadelphia from 43 to 31, the firm has enhanced its existing travel programs for summer associates. The firm is footing the entire bill, from transportation to accommodations to meals. In previous years, Dechert hosted independent trips to New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, three of its main offices. The cost of expanding such a program to London may seem high, but Herold points out that it actually ends up costing less than the three individual trips the firm had hosted for years. By consolidating the daylong outings the firm usually offers its associates into one multiday trip, he said the firm actually saves a little. But, Herold explained that this had nothing to do with their decision to go to London. “We were thinking about going to a one longer event format anyway,” he said. Herold said that holding this trip enables Dechert to attract new talent while many other firms continue to cut back. The main purpose behind these firm-sponsored events, he said, is to give the summer associates in all their offices, including the recently merged London-based attorneys, a chance to know each other. The visit will also enable the firm to facilitate international communication. The trip to London will enable the firm to draw attention to the recently merged London offices. In June 2000, Dechert completed a merger with the 100-attorney, London-based firm Titmuss Sainer, which already had offices in Paris and Brussels. Dechert now has one of the largest London offices of any U.S. law firm. Firm chairman Barton Winokur will give a seminar, as he does every year, on the art of negotiation. The associates also will take part in a tour of “legal London,” which involves a visit to the Central Criminal Court. In addition the firm has planned a visit to the William Shakespeare Theater, a boat cruise over the Thames and outings to many other tourist sites.

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