A Clifford Chance spokesman says: “We can confirm that Rick will be leaving us in October and will join the London office of Skadden Arps later this year.
“He was offered an extremely attractive proposition by Skadden Arps that he couldn't turn down.”
The spokesman stressed that Ely's departure was nothing to do with the firm's looming merger with Rogers & Wells at the beginning of next year.
“Rick backs the merger 100 per cent and believes the firm will build a top-tier US legal practice based in part on Clifford Chance's substantial securities practice in London,” he says.
Bruce Buck, head of Skadden Arps' European practice, says Ely will be working on corporate finance and M&A transactions.
“We have worked directly with Rick on a range of matters for five years or more and we look forward to adding his substantial experience to our team in London,” says Buck.
“We are very busy and have been for some time, and he has got a lot of technical expertise that will be very helpful to us and our clients.”
Ely joined Clifford Chance in 1997 as an associate from the New York office of US firm Sullivan & Cromwell.