CC loses ground to UK rivals in US growth stakes

Clifford Chance’s US partnership has shrunk by 21 per cent over the past five years, a trend that signals the struggles faced by the magic circle firm in its ­continuing attempt to build a successful US practice.

Figures compiled on all four of the UK’s largest firms for this year’s Transatlantic Elite supplement, published later this month, confirm that Clifford Chance’s US growth has flatlined.

At 291 the total number of lawyers in the firm’s US practice is now effectively the same as in 2006, when it had 289. The total number of partners has dropped from 75 to 59.

The only other firm of the four that has registered a drop is Allen & Overy (A&O), which saw its total number of US partners fall by 12.5 per cent, from 40 to 35, over the past year.

Over the five-year period, ­however, A&O’s ­partnership has grown by 34.5 per cent, while the total number
of lawyers at the firm has mushroomed by 52 per cent.

In contrast, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s lawyer count has grown by 74 per cent, while its US ­partnership has grown by 62.5 per cent.

Linklaters registered the largest increase in US ­partner numbers with almost a 75 per cent increase, from 19 in 2006 to its current tally of 33.

Clifford Chance managing partner David Childs denied that the lawyer ­headcount figures reflected a lessening of appetite for the
US market.

“We certainly have a lot of focus on the US and will continue to build up the practice, particularly in the area of cross-border work, which is one of our major strengths,” Childs insisted.