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Clifford Chance has brought in a public affairs company to give its public policy unit greater access to Whitehall.
The magic circle firm has enlisted Bell Pottinger Public Affairs to support its public policy unit in the UK, but the remit could be extended to advise the firm's clients as well. It is the first time Clifford Chance has awarded a public affairs contract.
Michael Smyth, who leads the firm's public policy unit, told The Lawyer: "With the volume of work we have, it was felt we needed some external expertise as well as in-house knowledge."
Smyth first wrote to potential public affairs companies last year and completed the final pitch process earlier this month. He declined to reveal the value of the contract.
While other City firms employ in-house public affairs consultants, Clifford Chance's public policy unit is staffed only by lawyers. The firm hopes that Bell Pottinger, which specialises in political, government and public affairs consultancy advice, will give the firm and its clients better access to politicians.
The unit's work includes drafting amendments to legislation and preparing clients for appearances before select committees.