Clifford Chance names women to lead corporate and financial markets practices

New global managing partner Charles Adams also creates two new roles overseeing client development and business transformation

Emma Matebalavu and Sarah Jones

Clifford Chance has elected two women to lead its core corporate and financial markets groups as part of a wider leadership shakeup conducted by the firm’s new global managing partner, Charles Adams. 

London partner Emma Matebalavu has been appointed global head of financial markets while New York partner Sarah Jones has been named as the firm’s global head of corporate. Matebalavu replaces Rob Lee and Jones replaces Guy Norman after the completion of their second terms in the roles. 

The appointment of women in roles traditionally held by men is notable and reflects the ongoing drive by leading UK law firms to improve the proportion of women in their senior ranks.

The UK Magic Circle firm has 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 have been appointed to these roles respectively. 

Luxembourg office managing partner Steve Jacoby has also been promoted as regional managing partner for continental Europe. He takes over from Adams, who served in the role from 2018 until his election as global managing partner last winter. 

Adams, who officially began his term in May, said 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. 

“I am excited by the opportunities ahead and I know that each of them will bring their unique expertise, energy and focus to build on the firm’s strong legacy, while continuing their market leading work for our clients,” he said.

Both Matebalavu and Jones have been with Clifford Chance their entire careers, having made partner in 2008 and 2001 respectively. Jones, who joined Clifford Chance's New York office from its London headquarters in 2006, also co-leads the firm's Americas corporate practice and serves global head of its consumer goods group. Matebalavu, meanwhile, has more than two decades of experience working on real estate finance and structured debt matters in the City. 

As clients, markets and products partner, Wong will focus on the client-centric aspects of the firm’s growth strategy. He currently serves as co-head of the firm’s worldwide projects group from the Singapore office. Littlewood leads Clifford Chance’s European CLO practice and is a member of the partnership council. In her new role as business transformation partner, she will focus on ensuring cohesion between the firm’s operations and client and people strategies. 

The creation of those roles follows on from the arrival of Charles Alberts, who joined Clifford Chance last month from Aon as its first global head of wellbeing and employee experience. The firm said it created the role to maximise support at every step of employment and ensure a consistent approach to staff welfare across all of Clifford Chance's international offices. 

In June, Hogan Lovells named New York-based litigation partner Phoebe Wilkinson as global managing partner for growth, a new role focused on growing the firm’s strategic client relationships, while Munich-based commercial and regulatory partner Patrick Ayad was appointed as global managing partner for sectors.


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