CC: hunting for a corporate head?

As David Childs becomes chief operating officer, who will be in the running to replace him as global corporate chief?

Clifford Chance corporate partners are bracing themselves for another election following the appointment of global corporate head David Childs to the post of chief operating officer.

Although Childs retains the role of head of corporate, several insiders have told The Lawyer that he is likely to relinquish this role in the medium term, and most probably within six months.

According to The Lawyer 100, Clifford Chance posted a global corporate turnover of £210m – down from the previous year’s £265m. London accounted for some £120m of total turnover last year.

Although Clifford Chance has the fourth biggest corporate practice of any UK firm, it appears that partners in the department have little appetite for management roles. Unlike the banking and securitisation groups, which underwent contested elections, Childs stood unopposed for a second term as global corporate head in September 2002. Meanwhile, David Pearson stood unopposed for London corporate head after Matthew Layton indicated he wanted to return to fee-earning.

Adam Signy, London The favourite of most partners to succeed, Signy has never shown any desire for management responsibilities, despite constant attempts by his colleagues to persuade him to stand. Highly influential, unflappable and one of the biggest fee-earners in the group, he has a foot in both the investment bank and private equity camps of the corporate department. Most of the best-known younger partners, such as Guy Norman, Sarah Jones and Iain Hunter, are in his group.

David Pearson, London Current head of London corporate, but he had to be encouraged to stand for the post. “It took a lot of persuading to get Pearson to do the London job,” says a partner. Since then he has embraced the role with some enthusiasm and made up to 30 redundancies in the London corporate group.

Thierry Schoen, Paris Heavyweight Paris fee-earner who started off at Cleary Gottlieb in Paris. He has had some management experience. He was appointed by Paris head Yves Wehrli as part of his executive team.

Yves Wehrli, Paris A commercial lawyer with a big media and sports background, Wehrli is head of the increasingly successful Paris office but may be unlikely to take up the global corporate role – if only to keep his powder dry for the next managing partner election.

Kate Howles, London Member of the powerful partnership selection group and “consensus-led and very highly thought of”, Howles was asked by a number of partners to stand for the London job but declined. Major client is EADS.

Roger Moore, London Corporate veteran who had London management responsibilities prior to the mergers with Rogers & Wells and Pünder. He currently looks after Scandinavian business, jurisdictions important to the private equity business.

Matthew Layton, London Along with Signy, Layton is an acknowledged star. Proven fee-earner and leader of the private equity group, which turns over at least £35m in London; key client is Permira. Adjudged to have done a good job as London managing partner of corporate, but he will have to be strong-armed to stand for another management role.

Andreas Dietzel, Frankfurt Not well known in London, but as head of the German corporate practice he has some management experience. He advised Coca-Cola on its reorganisation in Germany this year. London partners may be unlikely to vote for a German, however.