Clifford Chance is caught up in a row over accusations that senior partner Keith Clark has tried to persuade the firm's lawyers to take sides in the Law Society elections.
Contender Anthony Bogan has complained to Clark about a memo he circulated to staff urging them to vote in the poll and in which Clark said he was backing Tony Girling.
Bogan and Girling are standing against incumbent Martin Mears in a three-corner fight with the result due on 15 July.
Clark denied that the memo was a way of urging colleagues to vote for Girling, seen by Mears as the “establishment” candidate. “If I tell people which way I am going to vote, it is not the same as telling them how to vote,” he said.
But Bogan described the memo as a “clear attempt by someone in authority to influence voting patterns”.
Mears declined to condemn Clark but said the memo would be counter-productive: “People will feel they are being lent on and they won't like it”. The row illustrates the division between Law Society members.
Clifford Chance partner Michael Mathews is standing with Girling as deputy vice-president and has received Clark's backing. Mathews has sent several memos to the firm's lawyers urging them to vote for the Girling team. “I see nothing wrong with trying to solicit votes,” he said.
With just a few days to go before voting closes, Girling supporters have placed an advertisement in The Lawyer in an effort to woo assistant solicitors. A Solicitor's Journal poll put Girling just ahead of Mears.