Clifford Chance elects new senior partner

City-based former global capital markets lead Adrian Cartwright to take over in January

Adrian Cartwright Image courtesy of Clifford Chance

UK magic circle firm Clifford Chance (CC) has elected London capital markets lawyer Adrian Cartwright to succeed Jeroen Ouwehand as senior partner. 

Cartwright will take over as senior partner 1 January 2023 having vied for the role against Amsterdam-based Ouwehand and well-regarded structured finance Edmund Boyo, who works out of the firm’s Dubai office. 

Cartwright joined CC back in back in 2002 after almost a decade in the New York and London offices of magic circle rival Linklaters and currently leads the firm’s European equity capital markets group. From 2014 until earlier this year he also served as global head of capital markets.

"I congratulate Adrian whose leadership experience and global market knowledge is representative of our strong bench of leaders who play a critical role in ensuring Clifford Chance remains the firm of choice for the world's leading businesses,” said Charles Adams, CC’s global managing partner. “I look forward to working with him to keep our focus on securing strong foundations for our future success.”

Milan-based Adams took over as CC’s global managing partner in May from Matthew Layton, who served in the role for two terms over eight years. 

Ouwehand is stepping down at the end of his four-year term as senior partner, having become the first person from outside London to be appointed to the role when he beat four other partners to succeed Malcolm Sweeting in 2018.

Adams praised Ouwehand’s performance as senior partner, saying he had supported the firm by providing “insight and direction on fast changing global and economic realities”.

“He has also made a significant contribution in strengthening client relationships and winning work by establishing our ESG offering and will continue to play a key role in advancing this work as part of our strategy for the future," he added. 

During his time as senior partner Ouwehand has taken a leading role in the firm’s ESG push – establishing an ESG taskforce in 2020 and heading the firm’s responsible business and global ESG boards, roles in which a CC spokesperson said he would continue after stepping down as senior partner. 

A CC lifer, he served as managing partner of the firm’s Amsterdam office before taking over as senior partner; his practice focuses on financial, commercial and corporate litigation and arbitration. 

Cartwright’s election comes off the back of a strong financial performance in the year to 30 April 2022, when profit per equity partner grew 10% to exceed £2m for the first time against 8% revenue growth to £1.97bn. 

The firm pointed to progress in its inclusion targets when reporting its financial results in July, including a partner promotions round in April that it hailed as it ‘most diverse ever’ and which saw the firm nudge closer to the target it set two years ago to have at least 40% female partners in the firm by 2030. 

With Cartwright and Adams as senior and global managing partner respectively, however, it will be some time before there is any possibility of the firm being led by a woman, unlike magic circle rivals Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter and May.

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