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Firm set for corporate governance overhaul; chairman and CEO titles dropped
Clifford Chance is to subject whole swathes of its management to re-election this year as it shakes up its corporate governance. At the same time, a number of executive positions will be axed in a bid to trim the management layer. The review, instigated by Clifford Chance chief executive officer (CEO) Peter Cornell and which bears his slogan, 'Giving the partnership back to the partners', was revealed internally last week after considerable delay. It is expected to be approved by the partnership shortly. London managing partner Peter Charlton confirmed to The Lawyer that the firm was looking to streamline its decision-making. "There'll be a slimmed-down executive," he said. "The partnership council [needs to be] truly representative with a clearly defined role. Historically, people on it were fixers at the time of the merger." Regional managing partners and practice area managing partners will have to stand for re-election later this year. The review pointedly recommends that those in positions of management will now be expected to earn their keep through what is termed "client contribution". However, one partner dismissed suggestions that Clifford Chance was adopting the US fee-earner-manager model. He said: "It doesn't necessarily mean fee-earning. Americans have got a different view of time recording from the Brits. They focus on hours." Clifford Chance partners will also have to get used to a whole host of new titles. Among the review's recommendations are that the firm reverts to traditional law firm management speak. Out go CEO and chairman, in come senior partner and managing partner; the executive will change its name to management committee, while the board becomes the partnership council. However, another partner was unimpressed at these changes. " I don't see what the difference is, to be honest," he said.