Clifford Chance partners urged to share contacts for good of corporate

Clifford Chance’s management has urged partners to help boost its corporate practice by leveraging the firm’s prized banking relationships and fostering a culture of cross-referrals.


David Childs
David Childs

Firm leaders at this month’s annual partnership conference in Barcelona called on partners to avoid building silos and be aware of the corporate opportunities that client contacts can bring.

The two-day event addressed partners’ need to “realise that a capital markets or finance [client] is also useful for corporate”, according to a partner, as well as urging them to keep in close communication with their colleagues in Asia and Australia.

A London partner said: “[The message was] to take advantage of our strength among financial institutions as they change and be able to leverage that into the corporate arena. I took that away as being a real opportunity – siloes are not allowed to be built up.”

The partner added: “It’s just making sure if you sit in London and advise a client you might not think that an Australian partner might bring something to the table.”

Another partner who was present commented: “Finance contacts that give us banking-type work are big corporates and do things that any corporate does. We should be getting a bigger share of that than we are. The leveraging of finance relationships in corporate was part of a building-up-of-corporate theme more generally [at the conference].”

Malcolm Sweeting
Malcolm Sweeting

The leaders also vowed to continue the sector-based approach and grow the US business, with the magic circle firm’s practice stateside hit by a number of litigation departures in recent years, including that of national practice head Juan Morillo last year (9 May 2011).

Senior partner Malcolm Sweeting and global managing partner David Childs both spoke at the two-day event. Sweeting’s presentation touched on communication and global opportunities, while Childs focused to a greater extent on the issue of referrals and leveraging client relationships.

The conference, held at the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos I in the Spanish city on 15 and 16 June, consisted of meetings punctuated by two plenary sessions at the start and finish.

Clifford Chance’s partner retreats tend to focus on large-scale strategic issues rather than nitty-gritty financial or political matters such as partnership reshapes or performance management, with last year’s meeting in London addressing the firm’s plans to conquer the Asian market (4 July 2011).

One partner commented: “It’s for firing people with enthusiasm, not firing people.”