Profession throws a lifeline to trainees at doomed Dewey

Dewey & LeBoeuf’s 2012 trainee intake is being forced to start over, while the legal market rallies to offer refuge to the collapsing firm’s trainees.

Of the current 20-strong cohort it is understood that six first-year trainees and at least one second-year have followed former Dewey London office head Peter Sharp to Morgan Lewis.

Ropes & Gray is looking at taking a mix of eight current and future trainees. Co-managing partner Mike Goetz said the firm was “trying to move quickly as the trainees aren’t in a perfect position”, while fellow co-managing partner Maurice Allen remarked that those he had interviewed “are a fantastic group – there’s a huge amount of optimism and no-one is feeling sorry for themselves”.

Dechert is also understood to be trying to offer a handful of the second-year trainees positions.

Quinn Emanuel, which does not have a UK trainee programme, would offer a place to a trainee if the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) gave permission.

“As we only do litigation work and are quite small there’s a limit to what we can provide,” said co-managing partner Richard East. “But if someone is left out in the cold and needs a ­contentious seat to qualify, we can offer that on a one-off basis.”

Weil Gotshal & Manges has ­confirmed it has hired one future trainee, while London managing partner Michael Francies said it hopes to find a home for at least one current trainee too.

Victoria Wisson, graduate recruitment adviser at Weil, welcomed the “proactive” approach of the SRA and the Law Society in finding places for the trainees.

Eversheds is also looking to help trainees finish their training contracts.

“It’s the right thing to do in this situation,” a spokesperson said.

White & Case is considering applications “sympathetically, consistent with our overall needs”.

Peter Crisp, dean of Dewey’s LPC partner, BPP Law School, said: “For the 15 students with training contracts at the law school, our careers service is working hard to find alternative positions using our contacts database. A number of clients have vacancies and we’re putting them in contact with students.”

Meanwhile, Allen & Overy and ­Linklaters have confirmed they are not in a position to offer current Dewey trainees positions, but ­welcome applications from future trainees, while Slaughter and May is considering applications from both cohorts.

To date, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has offered a training ­contract to one future Dewey trainee.

In a statement, Dewey HR manager Katharyn White said this has been a challenging time, especially for the trainees, but added: “It’s hugely encouraging that the legal community has rallied at this difficult time to help these individuals at an early stage of their legal careers.”

White added that BPP had been “incredibly supportive” of both future and current trainees.