Clifford Chance to cut City associates in response to ‘low NQ attrition’

Clifford Chance is set to axe a string of associates in London, in the latest sign that top-level firms are feeling the pinch from the economic downturn.

David Bickerton
David Bickerton

The firm is in consultation with 13 City lawyers in the capital markets and finance practices, with the full number at risk of redundancy.

The firm said the proposed redundancies reflect a drop in the firm’s attrition rate, with the latest cohort of trainees and newly qualified lawyers set to join imminently.

London managing partner David Bickerton said in a statement: “We’re proposing to make a small number of lawyers redundant in London. Our business is very strong and resilient and we continue to grow.

“However, our attrition has fallen significantly and we have a programme of trainees and new qualifiers coming through.

“It’s important to ensure that our resources are in line with the business needs. We’ve not taken this decision lightly.

“We anticipate a maximum of 13 redundancies out of a total of nearly 1,000 fee -earners in London and we have no plans for any more.”

The associates affected have been informed and are currently in talks with management.

The cull is limited to London and is significantly smaller than the 2009 round, in which 80 associates were axed (8 January 2009).

The magic circle firm has, however, already vowed not to restructure its partnership following rival Linklaters’ move to axe a large proportion of its equity partners (9 December 2011).

Linklaters has already axed tens of partners in London (8 December 2011), while Allen & Overy has admitted to cutting between 1 and 3 per cent of its equity partners (28 November 2011).

Linklaters, meanwhile, has confirmed cuts in its London support-staff team, with a spokesperson commenting: “We can confirm that, reluctantly, there have been a small number of headcount reductions in business services in the UK.”