CC profits trail magic circle as US practice hit by weak dollar

Profits at Clifford Chance have plummeted by 13.4 per cent, blighted by a weak dollar, while the firm’s West Coast practice starts to rupture with partner losses.

The magic circle firm’s average profits per partner (PPP) have crashed through the psychologically important £600,000 barrier, dropping to £558,000 for the year ended 30 April.

Clifford Chance has been hit by a slump in the value of the dollar against the pound, as around 20 per cent of its overall revenue, which this year fell by 2.9 per cent to £950m, is derived from the US.

Large costs associated with last year’s move to Canary Wharf and the New York office relocation also hit income.

Over in the US, the exodus of Clifford Chance partners from the New York office, now well into double digits, seems to have spread to the West Coast, after three San Francisco-based partners left within two days of each other last week.

First to leave was salaried partner Craig Waldman for Cooley Godward. Then ex-Brobeck Phleger & Harrison securities litigation partners Dean Kristy and Kevin Muck jumped ship to Fenwick & West.

Sources close to Clifford Chance said there would be more West Coast partner departures as the management puts in place tough new budgets to bring the region in line with the rest of the firm.

Well-placed sources have also reconfirmed that Tower Snow, who led a team of former Brobeck partners to Clifford Chance two years ago, will be de-equitised and sidelined into a consultancy-type role.