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In an ever-changing world, it’s good to be able to rely on some things. And one of the great constants in life is Clifford Chance’s inexplicable vocation for pointless tinkering. We’ve lost count of the number of stories we’ve run about the firm playing around with the lockstep, rejigging the capital base and losing heavy-hitting Americans.
So farewell, perhaps, to Jim Benedict, ex-US managing partner and global litigation head, and the last of the big-billing Rogers & Wells generation. An arch-loyalist, he stayed when Kevin Arquit and Steve Newborn left for Simpson Thacher and Weil Gotshal respectively. But Benedict was also a flag-waver for the West Coast venture, which insiders say lost him some political capital in this most political of firms.
The arch-loyalist is now understood to be seriously considering offers from a number of New York practices, with Milbank Tweed being the frontrunner. It may be that Clifford Chance can buy him back in the way it did with Matthew Layton and James Baird. New York sources think it’s unlikely, but even if Clifford Chance does placate Benedict and his $10m (£5.6m) book of business, there’s blood in the water.
In the meantime, here’s Clifford Chance dreaming up yet another navel-gazing initiative. It’s set up a strategy committee – surely a pointless move, given that strategy is usually the management committee’s job. Does the firm need yet another clanking bit of bureaucracy just in order to bring a few partners inside the tent?
Let’s take a wild guess on what the strategy committee will be considering: raising plateau profits to more than a million per partner, without growing a magic money tree in the atrium; trimming the equity without losing all those expensively-reared junior partners; getting rid of silos; shoring up key client relationships; and – hurrah! – focusing on core values. There. We’ve saved them the trouble of working it out. Instead, here’s our suggestion for the committee. Disband yourselves. Haven’t you got real work to be getting on with?
There’s another farewell to make. This week is associate editor Dearbail Jordan’s last week at The Lawyer. Except we’re not really saying goodbye, because she’s moving all of one floor away from us to become news editor of our exciting new sister title Finance Week, aimed at finance directors and corporate accountants. Anyone who knows Dearbail will also know that she’ll bring her unique mix of City knowledge, investigative energy and journalistic flair to this new magazine, which launches next month. It’s about time the bean-counters enjoyed the same scrutiny as the lawyers.