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Eight volunteers to trim salaries by half as firm tries to build single lockstep after R&W merger
Eight of Clifford Chance's top New York partners have agreed to take huge pay cuts as the firm struggles to create a single lockstep post merger. After the merger with Rogers & Wells, 10 senior US partners were awarded pay packages way above the top of Clifford Chance's lockstep. Rogers & Wells' antitrust stars, Kevin Arquit and Steven Newborn, were awarded 300 and 275 points respectively. Partners at the top of lockstep get only 100 points. One point on the lockstep is equivalent to £8,450, according to the figures to April. A further eight partners were awarded 125-200 points, but those eight have agreed to forfeit those points in favour of integration on to the lockstep. US managing partner Jim Benedict is understood to have taken a voluntary cut from 200 points to 100 - reducing his salary from £1.7m to £845,000. Arquit and Newborn have yet to agree to take the cuts, and remain earning about £2.5m and £2.3m each. The changes would bring to an end a difficult six months for the firm after the New York office recorded disappointing figures in 2000. This is understood to have made several Clifford Chance London partners unhappy with the massive pay packets of legacy Rogers & Wells partners, as it was in stark contrast to the rest of the firm, which recorded a 56 per cent increase in turnover to £915m. A source close to the firm said: "London did not think it was appropriate for many of those people to be on those points." Another said of the voluntary cuts: "This is the kind of thing that good management would do as a gesture to the shareholders for disappointing performance." A question remains on the future earnings of Arquit and Newborn. The cuts come seven weeks after The Lawyer revealed that Clifford Chance was removing up to 25 of its US partners from its equity as part of the restructuring of the lockstep. Those affected were cross-departmental and came from the New York and Washington DC offices. They are understood to have included not only legacy Rogers & Wells partners but also some US-based legacy Clifford Chance partners. Before the merger Clifford Chance's top of equity partners earned two and a half times as much as bottom of equity partners, while at Rogers & Wells the ratio was more like 10 to one. A Clifford Chance spokesman declined to comment.