Clifford Chance race reaches final lap

Clifford Chance partners Peter Charlton and Tony Williams are in the final ballot to become the firm's next managing partner after Ashley Booker and Rodney Short were eliminated from the race.

It is understood that no clear majority of votes was obtained for any of the four in the first round of voting which ended last week.

So Clifford Chance's 250 partners are voting again this week with just Charlton and Williams – who garnered the most votes in the first round – on the ballot form.

The winner will succeed Geoffrey Howe who steps down at the end of this year after four consecutive terms of office.

Tony Williams is head of the Moscow office at the moment but his tour of duty is due to finish at the end of the month and he is returning to London.

Peter Charlton, currently executive partner of the corporate department, is viewed in the profession as something of a hard-nosed Geordie, though there are some who say his bark is worse than his bite – while the reverse is said to be true of Williams.

Ashley Booker is head of insolvency and Rodney Short is head of the projects group.

Peter Cornell, in charge of Clifford Chance's Spanish office, is believed to have been the fifth man on a shortlist of the five most popular candidates drawn up at the end of last year. However, he declined to stand in the first ballot.