Grapevine

When is a CMT group not a CMT group?
The renaissance of Clifford Chance‘s communications, media and technology (CMT) group has been a wonder to behold. The firm’s press office has been banging out press releases like it’s 1999 all over again.

However, despite the dealflow, all is not well in this ever-shrinking group. Three more associates left for pastures greener last week, leaving the department with just seven.

Perhaps the problem is that the CMT group isn’t a CMT group at all. The head is Joachim Fleury, a corporate partner – he’s the one who’s done the recent M&A deals.

David Griffith recently closed ABN Amro’s bumper outsourcing deal with IBM, but media dude Daniel Sandelson is also fundamentally a corporate lawyer.

All three are quite brilliant, but what’s the point of calling the team a CMT group? Would any self-respecting techie want to join it?

SJ Berwin dilemma: charming Kon or big-billing Blake?
The battle to become SJ Berwin’s next senior partner looks likely to become a two-horse race.

The word around the firm’s Gray’s Inn Road offices is that head of private equity Jonathon Blake and EU and competition head Stephen Kon are favourites to battle it out to replace longstanding senior partner David Harrel.

The tussle for the top spot has been brewing since Harrel flagged up his intention to stand down from his 13-year tenure last year, using the firm’s move to new offices at 10 Queens Street Place as a marker for the change.

The partnership is now dividing into two opposing sides. Blake has supporters due to his solid reputation as the firm’s top-billing projects partner. Kon’s supporters, meanwhile, believe that he would make a charming and charismatic leader.

This has left managing partner Ralph Cohen, with neither big bills nor big charisma, scrambling for an inside track on the role. It is unlikely, though, that he will receive enough support from the partnership to be nominated during the formal election process later this year.

Whoever wins, it is doubtful that either will be able to fill the sizeable shoes of the hugely popular Harrel.

Coudertwatch
The latest scores on the doors are:

  • Almaty: Chadbourne & Park
  • Beijing: DLA Piper, Orrick
  • Frankfurt: DLA Piper
  • Hong Kong: Orrick
  • London: Orrick
  • Los Angeles: Sheppard Mullin
  • Moscow: Orrick
  • New York: Baker & McKenzie
  • Paris: Dechert
  • Shanghai: Orrick
  • Sydney: Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Deacons
  • Washington DC: Arent Fox, Orrick

That just leaves us with Bangkok, Brussels, Singapore, St Petersburg and Tokyo. Fight it out chaps.