Proposal to elect Palmer bypasses deputy chief operating officer Perrin
Clifford Chance's future chief executive officer (CEO) Peter Cornell is planning to install one of the firm's finance practice heads as his new right-hand man. Cornell has appealed to the partnership to elect Phillip Palmer, the joint managing partner of finance, as the new chief operating officer (COO). Palmer has been a partner with the firm since 1991 and manages the finance practice with Mark Campbell. They report to global banking and finance practice area leader Stuart Popham. Cornell was elected in April as the deputy CEO, and he will take over from present incumbent Michael Bray when his term finishes at the end of 2002. In the meantime, Cornell is covering the role of Garth Pollard, the COO who retired last week (31 July). Subject to partnership votes, Palmer will become COO on 1 January 2002. Cornell's proposal to instate Palmer bypasses litigation partner and deputy COO Chris Perrin. He will continue in that role, principally looking after conflicts. Palmer was a partner in the firm's Tokyo office between 1991 and 1996, and specialises in bank regulatory work and derivatives. One source close to the firm said: "Peter Cornell, who is CEO elect, is looking forward to a time when he needs a COO and he has alighted upon Phillip. Being a finance partner Peter will have come across him quite often." As COO, Palmer will be responsible for day-to-day management issues across the firm, and Cornell will take charge of strategic decisions. Cornell declined to comment on his reasons for picking Palmer. Cornell is stamping his mark on the firm as it continues to grapple with the issues of integrating New York partners into the lockstep following the Rogers & Wells merger. All partners are being consulted on the process of rewarding additional points, over and above 100, to certain partners in New York and Italy. In a letter to The Lawyer published this week (see page 19), Bray has spoken for the first time about the process. He said: "There is a clear process for renewing awards of additional units in the US. It is totally inappropriate to comment on the individual position of any partner. "Where additional units are awarded it will be because the firm recognises the exceptional contribution to the firm made by that partner, and the satisfaction of the criteria which have been agreed."