Clifford Chance underlines US ambitions with hires from Shearman and White & Case

Announcement of former Shearman tax partner’s arrival came on day A&O Shearman came into being
Skyline of Houston, Texas in daytime under blue sky

Houston Shutterstock; travelview

Clifford Chance (CC) has hired a partner apiece from Shearman & Sterling and White & Case in the US as the UK Magic Circle firm continues to focus its efforts on growing its presence stateside.

The hires were announced yesterday (1 May), on the day CC’s UK Magic Circle rival Allen & Overy (A&O) completed its merger with New York’s Shearman to create A&O Shearman, a top five global law firm by revenue.

Todd Lowther has joined CC’s tax and energy and infrastructure teams from Shearman in Houston, where CC opened an office last summer targeting energy and infrastructure work. Meantime, in New York the firm has hired Chang-Do Gong from White & Case to bolster its US M&A practice.  

The hires continue a concerted expansion drive by CC in the US, where the firm has grown headcount by 19% over the past 12 months according to data from Pirical. CC said it had made 29 senior lateral hires across the country since the start of 2023, and now has more than 370 lawyers there, including 113 partners.  

CC’s Magic Circle rivals have also been recruiting heavily in the US, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer growing lawyer headcount there by 27% over the past 12 months to 377 and Linklaters by 17% to just over 170.  

However, all three are now dwarfed by A&O’s post-merger US bench, which boasts more than 650 lawyers according to the new firm’s website.  

CC’s US profile has no doubt been helped by its Houston office, which has recruited partners from several US rivals including Latham & Watkins, Kirkland & Ellis and Jones Day, and now has nearly 30 lawyers.  

For his part, Lowther has joined the office after six years as a partner at Shearman, before which he practised at Texan firm Thompson & Knight.  

He brings significant energy sector tax experience and advises on the full range of oil and gas transactions including the taxation of natural resources, carbon capture tax credits, partnerships and international joint ventures. His clients have included EnCap Flatrock Midstream, Chesapeake Energy and JF Lehman & Company, according to his CC profile.  

Sharis Pozen, CC’s regional managing partner of the Americas, said Lowther’s hire “builds on the incredible momentum of our energy and infrastructure practice in the US and our growing team in Houston”.

Meantime in New York, Gong brings 25 years of public and private M&A experience across industries including energy and infrastructure, healthcare and life sciences and technology – all focus areas for CC in the US. He has worked on numerous multibillion-dollar deals, including advising Calpine Corporation in its $17bn acquisition by Energy Capital Partners and Medlmmune in its $15.2bn acquisition by AstraZeneca. He also acted for The Walt Disney Company when it bought Marvel Entertainment for $4bn back in 2009.  

CC’s Americas head of corporate, Ben Sibbett, said Gong’s experience “advising on complex domestic and cross-border public and private M&A transactions in the most active sectors in the market will add immediate value to our clients”.

He added: “I look forward to collaborating with Chang-Do who will help me lead our US M&A practice.”

CC’s US M&A team now has more than 70 lawyers, who form part of a 900-strong global practice. 

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]