Litigation bears the brunt as Clifford Chance wields axe

Clifford Chance’s New York office is preparing for large-scale partner cuts in its litigation practice as the firm thrashes out its partnership restructuring.

David Childs

David Childs

The magic circle firm is finalising details of the reduction, which could see the firm’s New York litigation team cut more than seven of the firm’s 17-partner team.

Clifford Chance management will meet this week to discuss the finer details of the cuts in the US and elsewhere in the network.

Although Clifford Chance managing partner David Childs declined to comment on the firmwide restructuring, inside sources said litigation will suffer partner cuts despite the downsizing of the team in 2008.

Last year The Lawyer reported on the firm cutting 20 litigation associates in the US (, 14 October 2008).

Clifford Chance also ­suffered several high-profile defections from the team, including John Carroll, David Meister and Warren Feldman, who defected
to Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in December 2008.

An inside source said: “Partner cuts will be made in the litigation group. Things will be clearer after the management meets next week but cuts will happen.”

Last week a four-partner arbitration and reinsurance team, including former ­litigation head Peter Chaffetz and partner David ­Lindsey, left to launch an arbitration boutique, Chaffetz Lindsey (TheLawyer. com, 6 May).

Earlier this year Childs told The Lawyer that ­Clifford Chance remained dedicated to maintaining a litigation presence in the US and hoped to recruit anti-trust capabilities in its New York and DC offices.

Sources close to the firm suggest the recent rainmaker defections have hit the US practice hard.

A source said: “With such a dramatic reduction, it’s hard to see how the firm can maintain a credible litigation practice.

“There’s speculation about the firm keeping just a ­minimal team as a service to the wider network.”