Megalomania or healthy ambition?

If the vote goes the right way this weekend, Clifford Chance could add over a thousand new lawyers to its global empire.

While this will no doubt make many partners jump for joy, others will wonder whether the firm is stretching itself too far. It is not only Rogers & Wells that is waiting in the wings – a merger with Germany's third largest firm Punder Volhard Weber & Axster and Australia's Mallesons Stephen Jacques is also on the cards.

CC's aggressive global expansion brings to mind a certain Sock Shop that was the darling of the stock market during the 1980s. While its novelty socks went down a storm in the British High Street, its huge expansion throughout international airport lounges stretched the company to the limit.

Arguably CC is starting from a more sound organisational base. It already has an impressive global network and a client list many US firms would kill for. Nevertheless, such an ambitious acquisition strategy does put strain on firms, not least in terms of IT, partner remuneration and client support. So far, the signs are that CC is making the right moves. We just hope it does not find that its international socks are too big for its feet.