Clifford Chance in ‘doing ok in New York’ shocker

The biggest firm in the universe is persuading the headhunters on Wall Street to return its calls. Clifford Chance’s latest US catch is John Graham, head of M&A at King & Spalding, which The Lawyer revealed yesterday evening.

Clifford Chance certainly seems a heck of a lot more realistic nowadays. Gone are the days when it thought it could crack America on the basis of a splashy California launch. It hired a crack team from Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison back in 2002 only to suffer a very public implosion.

Its retreat to the East Coast has created a much happier ship. Stripped of its ambitions to compete with Skadden and Davis Polk on Wall Street, it now comfortably inhabits the solid upper mid-tier in New York.

That is demonstrated by its recent hires, who have come from firms such as Paul Hastings, Chadbourne & Parke and Winston & Strawn. That may not quite set the pulses racing like a hire from, say, Cravath, but Clifford Chance is quite happy to leave that particular recruitment tactic to bitter rival A&O.