The publication last Friday (10 July) of Allen & Overy’s (A&O) 2008-09 results slotted the final piece into this year’s magic circle financial jigsaw.
Average profit per equity partner (PEP) dropped by 11 per cent, while turnover grew by 7 per cent to £1.09bn.
Despite the reduction in PEP, A&O was able to hold on to its membership of the increasingly exclusive seven-figure PEP club, with £1m.
One former Clifford Chance lawyer, now a partner at a rival firm, said: “The challenge now for Clifford Chance will be for it to hang on to its star partners.”
There are signs that the firm may already be feeling the impact of its falling PEP. In May Clifford Chance suffered one of the biggest high-profile defections for years when corporate partner Adam Signy left the firm for US rival Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. In 2008 Simpson Thacher posted a PEP of $2.48m (£1.47m).
Last year Clifford Chance also lost its long-held position as the UK’s largest firm by revenue when first Freshfields and then Linklaters overtook it at the top of the table.
Clifford Chance’s turnover now stands at £1.26bn, in contrast with Linklaters’ £1.29bn and Freshfields’ £1.28bn.