Clifford Chance to up retirement age

Clifford Chance has increased its mandatory retirement age due to its merger with Rogers & Wells.

The Lawyer understands that following the merger of the two firms in January, Clifford Chance partners will retire at 65, rather than 60 as they do now.

The same retirement age will apply to Rogers & Wells partners, who currently retire at 70.

Partners at US firms traditionally retire later than those at UK firms. US firms also provide generous pensions packages for their retiring partners, whereas it is understood that Clifford Chance, like most UK law firms, leaves its lawyers to make their own provisions.

A spokesman at Clifford Chance denies that the retirement age is changing, saying that it has always been 65.

But a source confirms that the two firms' retirement ages will be brought together and that Clifford Chance's retirement age is currently 60.

The new arrangements make provisions for partners to stay on for two years past the age of 65 if the partnership agrees to it, The Lawyer understands.

A former Clifford Chance partner says the firm's retirement age was reduced from 65 to 60 in the early 1990s.

“From 55 you could retire and get an annuity for five years. From 50 onwards they said to partners 'If you are minded to retire, then we can have that conversation'.”

This was done partly as a way of weeding out unproductive senior partners. Once a partner reaches the top of the lockstep pay system, there are fewer incentives to work hard and “some tend to cruise a bit”, says the source.

“They won't be able to reduce the number of partners by encouraging people to retire early. It will be very sensitive within Clifford Chance,” adds the source.

“The people who objected to the merger will do a deal with them.”