Clifford Chance’s Canary cashback

It’s an historic time for Canary Wharf. The financial centre is set to overtake the City as the biggest employer of bankers in Europe in the coming months, according to the Financial Times.

And bank bosses say that cheaper rents (as much as a third cheaper, in some cases) and skyscrapers that can accommodate entire businesses under one roof will only see the exodus to the spivs-and-speculators’ Shangri-La go from strength to strength.

How timely, then, that Clifford Chance should be shifting around staff in its Canary Wharf offices and trialling open plan working in a bid to save around £1m a year.

In a staggered process, Clifford Chance’s corporate team will all move onto the 21st floor of the firm’s Upper Bank Street HQ, with the firm looking for tenants to take up the freed space. In addition to this, the firm is experimenting with open-plan offices for its corporate team in the new set-up – some lawyers have volunteered to give up their privacy, others have been less easy to persuade, we hear.

Open-plan offices can be divisive and haven’t really been given a chance at the top firms, save for a short trial at Allen & Overy. But if Clifford Chance gets it right it might be able to cash in on the delightful throng of bankers as they continue to move east. A few more law firms might even consider moving out to the Docks themselves.

All the Wharf would need then is its very own Occupy protest camp to truly be the new financial centre.