High-profile technology and data protection specialist Christopher Millard is understood to be going straight in at the top of Linklaters' lockstep when he leaves Clifford Chance at the end of the month
Millard, who is one of the most respected lawyers in data protection, IT and e-commerce law, will take over from Ian Karet as head of Linklaters' information, technology and communications (ITC) practice. Karet, who was instrumental in hiring Millard, has led the group since its launch in 2000. He will now move back into fee-earning. Karet said: "We want to improve the quality of our practice. One hopes that profile will follow." Millard's move - first revealed on www.thelawyer. com/lawyernews - is a serious blow to Clifford Chance. He trained at the firm where he had been a partner for 10 years, leading the launch of the firm's first online service, NextLaw. He will now join Linklaters' e-board, where he will work closely with the team running the firm's Blue Flag service, as well as building on the ITC group globally. Millard told The Lawyer that he agonised over the prospect of crossing the magic circle to Linklaters before deciding that it was the right move. "Leaving aside specific areas, both firms are excellent top-tier firms," he said. "I wasn't actually looking to move, but after Linklaters approached me I got to know them quite well and became convinced that the combination of excellence in conventional practice areas and their innovative use of technology to deliver legal services, means they're best placed to move legal services to the next level." Linklaters has already begun implementing software from SAP Software, which will enable all offices to operate on a single platform for all business functions. But in terms of profile, Linklaters has lagged behind Clifford Chance for e-commerce and IT work. Millard said: "That's the opportunity and the challenge. I hope to consolidate the practice and help the profile to be properly recognised. "In common with many partners at Clifford Chance and other magic circle firms, I've been approached many times by headhunters representing US firms and offering various incentives. I've never been remotely interested. This is a unique opportunity. Linklaters is the only firm I consider to be a real competitor in the online delivery of legal services." A spokesperson for Clifford Chance said: "Christopher Millard played a significant role in developing Clifford Chance's IT law practice, and has made a much appreciated contribution to the firm's online services. The firm is sorry to see him leave, but appreciates his desire to take on new challenges at Linklaters. We wish him well."