Grapevine

Fräulein decline

Few things give legal journalists more pleasure than digging out nuggets of information from firms that don’t want to share it. That’s news, folks.

The Lawyer Euro 100, out next week, is crammed full of such delightful snippets, few more fun than the ratio of female equity partners at the Continental firms. Of course, diversity issues are de rigueur in the City – The Lawyer has lost count of the number of alpha male corporate finance partners it has interviewed that are deeply troubled about the low levels of ladies in their profession.

Sadly, judging by the statistics, the Continent’s biggest firms haven’t cottoned on yet to the merits of partnerships that are predominantly white, male and posh. Stand up the Germans, homeland of three of the bottom five firms (Beiten Burkhardt, Gleiss Lutz and Hengeler Mueller). With the percentage of female equity partners currently running at no more than 5 per cent in any of them, they might want to have a look at their diversity policies. Which of course they all have, surely?

Payton’s face

After his shock resignation last month, it seems that Clyde & Co‘s charismatic former corporate head in London David Page is almost certainly heading to Ashurst. The deal is not yet sealed, with the partner vote due to take place in the coming weeks, so Ashurst is naturally remaining tight-lipped on its likely new starter.

As first revealed by The Lawyer (11 April), Page left Clydes after 19 years to pursue his new-found interest in the highly esoteric world of insurance-linked securities, an area Clydes is not involved in. Reports from Clydes say that, at his farewell, Page told the assembled throng he wished he could take them all with him. We’re sure that Clydes’ ebullient senior partner Michael Payton, for one, does not share the sentiment.

Charlton to be undone by Italian jobber?

There’s a conspiracy theory at Clifford Chance that says Peter Cornell was the one who encouraged Italy head Nick Wrigley to stand against Peter Charlton. This may not be strictly correct (you won’t see Cornell taking sides on this one), but there’s a back story. Wrigley was one of Cornell’s biggest cheerleaders in his bruising contest against Charlton for the post of global managing partner four years ago.

Wrigley supporters say he’d be good at coaxing the best performance out of the Continental M&A practice, which has not managed to emulate the success of the London corporate business. Wrigley will no doubt be taking some lessons from history. His buddy Cornell successfully played the anti-establishment card and got elected – even though he was high up in the firm’s European management at the time. It was a lesson in how to appeal to the emotional vote.

For Charlton, though, it must be a dispiriting moment. Twice now he’s stood for election and has twice been defeated – mostly thanks to the anti-London vote.

The last thing the firm’s management really wants is a distracting election when the partners ought to be working, not politicking. Yet at least it satisfies Clifford Chance’s insatiable need for drama.