Clifford Chance star Benedict seals Milbank move

Clifford Chance (CC) has lost its star New York rainmaker Jim Benedict, The Lawyer can reveal.

As first revealed in The Lawyer (11 October 2004), the former US managing partner has been in advanced discussions with Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy.

Clifford Chance sources say that over the weekend the firm’s managing partner Peter Cornell sent an email to partners confirming the securities litigation expert’s departure for Milbank.

Benedict is taking with him junior partner Sean Murphy.

Mark Kirsch, Clifford Chance’s head of Americas litigation practice said in a statement “Clifford Chance has come a long way since the days of Rogers & Wells and in many ways it is a different law firm. We are resolutely committed to our model and strategy. We understand Jim prefers a different model.”

“Although we will miss Jim, his departure does not materially affect our capabilities or resources,” the statement adds.

It is estimated that Benedict’s book of business is valued between $7-$10m and he is one of a clutch of partners paid above Clifford Chance’s 100 point top of lockstep.

Benedict is the latest in a stream of big-billing US partners to have walked out of the magic circle firm’s US operation in the past two years.

Since last October alone, it is estimated that a total of $40-$52m in revenue has exited the firm. Among the key defectors are antitrust star Steve Newborn, IP expert Leora Ben-Ami and derivatives partner Davd Taub.

Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy declined to comment.