Clifford Chance votes to rejig and reduce management committee

Clifford Chance has cut its practice group representation on its management committee from six to three in a comprehensive overhaul.

The firm voted yesterday to replace its six practice area representatives with three new global business units (GBU). The management committee has been renamed the Executive Leadership Group and will be headed up by new managing partner Matthew Layton.

The new groups will be made up of financial markets, M&A and corporate transactions/ advisory and risk management and dispute resolution group.

It means head of real estate, Alfonso Benavides, finance chief Mark Campbell and capital markets head David Dunnigan will no longer have seats on the committee in their current capacity.

Global tax, pensions and employment head Chris Davies will be removed along with global dispute resolution head Jeremy Sandelson and new head of corporate Guy Norman unless they are reappointed as GBU heads.

Layton is expected to name the new GBU heads over the next month in advance of the ELG launch on 1 September 2014.

The overhaul marks the completion of a key manifesto aim. The new leader is understood to have stood for his role on a platform of streamlining management and creating a stronger executive team and had tabled the vote to slim down the committee last month (19 June 2014).

The firm was originally understood to be voting on cutting the 16-strong committee to nine spots and reduce practice area representation (28 November 2013). The new committee has 12 seats and the new GBU groups will include representatives from across the practice areas and regions.

According to sources at the firm at the time of Layton’s election in November, partners at the firm were keen to consolidate practice areas in order to have a smaller group of leaders representing a larger swathe of the firm.

Regional managing partner for the Americas, Evan Cohen, will still have a seat on the ELG as well as Asia managing partner Peter Charlton. The firm is creating a new role for continental Europe.

London managing partner David Bickerton and Middle East managing partner Robin Abraham will report directly to Layton (27 March 2013) (22 November 2013).

The remaining spots on the new-look committee will be taken up by global head of people and talent Laura King, chief financial officer Stephen Purse, and chief operating officer Amanda Burton. Exectuive partner and general counsel Chris Perrin will also retain his seat.

Layton said: ”This simplified leadership group reflects the fact that our firm, our clients and the market have changed significantly since 2000 when the current governance was put in place, just after our mergers.”