Clifford Chance names new UK COO

Ex-chief of staff to former global managing partner Matthew Layton rejoins firm to lead UK operational management 
A photo of the sign outside Clifford Chance's London office

Lizzie Goodburn rejoins the firm's London office Shutterstock

UK magic circle law firm Clifford Chance (CC) has named the ex-chief of staff to former global managing partner Matthew Layton as its new UK COO, marking the latest in a series of leadership changes. 

Lizzie Goodburn has rejoined the firm to lead the operational management of its UK business after a stint as VP of operations at London-based software company Beamery. She has succeeded Sophie Schwass, who is relocating to New Zealand after three years in the role. 

In her new role Goodburn will report to UK managing partner Michael Bates and global chief operating officer Gavin Goodwin, who is based in Dubai and succeeded Caroline Firstbrook in the role in September. 

“Lizzie’s insight and experience gained as chief of staff to Matthew Layton and as an associate in our London and Singapore offices, along with her senior roles leading operations in other complex organisations make her a great fit,” Bates commented. “She will bring energy, perspective and focus and we look forward to her re-joining the firm.”

Prior to her stint at Beamery Goodburn she spent almost four years as Layton’s chief of staff and was also an associate at CC earlier in her career, in the interim serving as chief of staff to the CEO of the Guardian newspaper and at the Association for Financial Markets in Europe. A former Olympic rower, she was also an executive assistant to Paul Deighton, CEO of the organising committee for the London Olympic Games.

“Having worked closely with the Clifford Chance’s UK and global leadership over a number of years, I am delighted to take on the pivotal role leading operational strategy in the UK,” Goodburn said. “We are in a transformational period for the industry as a whole and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure our firm's readiness for the years to come."

Bates added: "We wish Sophie Schwass and her family well. Her leadership and drive have enabled the firm to continue its success through our most profitable period while ensuring that all of us had the support we needed to do the best for our clients."

CC reported in July that profit per equity partner (PEP) had grown 10% to exceed £2m for the first time against an 8% rise in revenue to £1.97bn. The results marked the seventh consecutive year of profit and revenue growth for the firm, which said at the time that since the introduction of a new strategy in 2015 turnover had increased by 46% and PEP by 82%. 

Goodburn’s appointment is the latest in a series of leadership changes at the firm that included the addition of Aon’s workplace wellbeing consultancy practice head, Charles Alberts, in June as its first global head of wellbeing and employee experience. 

And in July the firm elected two women – London partner Emma Matebalavu and New York partner Sarah Jones – to lead its core financial markets and corporate groups respectively. Matebalavu replaced Rob Lee and Jones replaced Guy Norman after the completion of their second terms in the roles. 

At the same time CC also created two new roles – clients, markets and products partner and global operations and business transformation partner – to hone in on the firm’s ‘priorities of growth and operational excellence’. Singapore partner Nicholas Wong and London partner Jessica Littlewood were appointed to these roles respectively. 

Global managing partner Charles Adams, who took up his position in May, said at the time the appointments were ‘critical’ to the advancement of the firm’s strategic plans to continue growth in the Americas, Europe and across the financial investors segment.

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