The New York associates of Clifford Chance have slammed the firm's culture in a damning 13-page memorandum to the partnership
The extensive memo, prepared at the request of Clifford Chance's New York partners after the firm came last in this month's 2002 associate survey by The American Law-yer, raises seven major areas of dissatisfaction, with billing targets attracting the most concern. The memo states: "The 2,420 billable hours requirement angers, worries and harries virtually every associate. Moreover, associates found the stress on billable hours dehumanising and encourages 'padding' of hours." Other major issues raised in the memo include the system for delegating work, communication and long gaps between assessments. Delegation partners are accused of running a system that is "an old boys' club", in which associates must "schmooze" people for work.Partners are also criticised for their general indifference and for not showing enough interest in mentoring. The memo claims that "the partners 'hate' the associates". Additionally, the associates would like greater recognition of their pro bono efforts. Currently, Clifford Chance's billing targets do not include time spent on pro bono. The memo states: "The firm's animosity to pro bono is deplorable"." Some associates lamented the lack of a coherent firm culture," continues the memo. "The firm spends a lot of money on elaborate (and, to some, unseemly) advertising campaigns, but nothing on internal identity issues." John Marnard, Clifford Chance's global director of HR, told The Lawyer: "Many of the issues raised in the memo manifest themselves with differing levels of intensities in all firms. These aren't solely the concern of Clifford Chance." Clifford Chance, however, was not prepared to answer direct questions on the separate areas of concern raised, but Marnard did accept there are still some integration issues at associate level. Following The American Lawyer's survey, the firm set up a taskforce to deal with low morale.