The Clifford cull

The Clifford cullIt is safe to say that few fees were billed at Clifford Chance yesterday amidst the logistical nightmare of having a chat with 880 lawyers and paralegals (see story).

All day, lawyers from each of the firm’s eight practice groups piled into the firm’s windowless auditorium to hear the same pep talk from London management partner Jeremy Sandelson: the decision to make around one in ten of them redundant was not taken lightly.

As preferable as cuts may be to underhand ‘performance reviews’, that will be scant consolation for those 70 to 80 London lawyers facing limited job prospects in a difficult market.

One headhunter said that half a dozen senior Clifford Chance banking and capital markets lawyers’ CVs landed on her desk only yesterday as the news broke.

With a redundancy programme the size of Clifford Chance’s, they will not be the last.

The firm will obviously try everything in its power to minimise the hit on morale and productivity, and is currently seeking several associate and paralegal representatives from each practice group to consult with management about the terms of the redundancies.

After 30-odd days, this is hoped to produce an impartial formula that will produce a list of 70 to 80 unlucky names.

Fair, but no less harsh.

Sandelson concluded yesterday with a more positive address to many of the firm’s 140 trainees and March qualifiers, assuring them that their jobs were not at risk.

He impressed on them that he had been through several recessions before, and that cuts simply came with the territory. “Keep going” was the message.

In the circumstances, there’s little other advice worth giving.