Clifford Chance shuns tradition with plc-style governing board

Clifford Chance is adopting a UK corporate-style structure by electing a governing board to oversee the decisions of its executive committee.

The board’s first members will be partners elected from the three firms

merging to form the new conglomerate. But the merger document leaves room

for captains of industry and other outsiders to join the board.

Elections to the board will take place in the next two to three weeks.

Clifford Chance will elect three partners and Rogers & Wells two. It is not

known how many members German firm Punder Volhard Weber & Axster will

elect, as the vote on the firm’s merger with Clifford Chance has not yet

taken place.

Arrangements are still to be finalised, but the board will sit for three

or four years. After that time, individual firms will lose their allotted

places in a free-for-all vote.

The arrangement may go some way towards appeasing Clifford Chance partners

who are reported to be disgruntled over the lack of consultation so far.

Partners are said to be unhappy that the five global practice heads were

imposed on them from above.

Last week Clifford Chance senior partner Keith Clark, Rogers & Wells

managing partner Larry Cranch and Punders founding partner Dolf Weber were

drumming up business in New York.

“The three of us had a series of meetings with the major financial

institutions in the world at their headquarters,” says Cranch. “The reason

for this merger is client focused, and we are very gratified to have got

the kind of response we received this week from them.”