Michael Bray, chief executive of Clifford Chance

In recent weeks many articles in the media have focused on the completion of our merger transition arrangements and, in particular, the implications of these for the structure of our practice in the Americas.
It has been my policy not to provide input or comment for the purposes of these articles on what are, after all, the private affairs of the partnership.
However, a number of serious inaccuracies have appeared in these articles and it is distressing for partners if these are allowed to continue uncorrected.
We agreed, as part of our original merger terms, that at the end of the transition (scheduled for 30 April 2002) all three firms would transition to a single lockstep ladder which has been deliberately flexed in the US and, subsequently, Italy – two markets which we recognised, and still recognise, as being markets where additional units (over and above 100) may have to be awarded in order to attract and retain some lawyers at the top of the profession.
Clear criteria for the award of additional units have been agreed, and where these are considered to have been satisfied, additional units will continue to be awarded.
Many articles in the media have sought to link our transition plan to a supposed “underperformance” in New York. Most recently, for example, it has been reported elsewhere that for this reason many partners have been forced to accept pay-cuts, some have been “forced out” of equity, partners have been required to give up additional units and a small number have refused. This is wholly inaccurate.
The accurate position is as follows: First, our transition plan for the Americas has been developed under the leadership of our US management team, within the parameters set at the time of the merger. It was recognised then that not all partners in Rogers & Wells would enter the new firm's lockstep at the end of the transition.
Second, the value of work performed for clients in the Americas during the course of the last financial year represented an increase of 30 per cent on the prior year (on a like for like basis) – more than twice the reported rate of growth of the other top firms in New York. This underlines both the strength of the practice and the effect of merger synergies. The Americas practice is not underperforming.
Third, at the time of the merger additional units were awarded for an initial period of two years. All those awards continue for that full two-year period. No partners in the Americas have been asked to give up additional units.
And finally, there is a clear process for renewing awards of additional units in the US. It is totally inappropriate to comment on the individual position of any partner. Where additional units are awarded, it will be because the firm recognises the exceptional contribution to the firm made by that partner, and the satisfaction of the criteria that have been agreed.