28 Apr 2022

Clifford Chance unveils 'most diverse ever' partner promotions round

Largest cohort since 2007 sees 37 lawyers made up as firm measures up to latest diversity targets

Headshots of Patrick Jackson and Naomi Griffin

Patrick Jackson and Naomi Griffin Images courtesy of Clifford Chance

UK Magic Circle law firm Clifford Chance has announced its largest crop of partner promotions since 2007, with 37 lawyers making the grade in a round that nudges the firm closer to its targets for gender equality. 

The latest cohort is a marked step up from last year, when 29 lawyers got the nod, while 41% percent of the new partners (15) this time are women – more than in any previous round. 

According to the firm, the rolling average of promoted female partners over five years (37%) is also the highest it's ever been, putting it on track to meet its target of at least 40% female partners in the firm by 2030

Like in 2021, this round heavily favours the UK and mainland Europe. Seventeen lawyers got the nod in the firm’s London headquarters and ten were made up across its European offices – three in Düsseldorf, two each in Warsaw and Amsterdam and one apiece in Frankfurt, Madrid and Istanbul.

There was a slight dip in Americas promotions, with four moving up this time round compared to last year’s five, with two partners made up in Washington DC, one in New York, and capital markets specialist Patrick Jackson getting the nod in São Paulo. 

The firm reported that 23% of the US and UK partners who disclosed their ethnicity identified as non-white, exceeding the firm’s 2025 target set last year for this figure to be at least 15%. 

Five lawyers were elevated to the partnership across the firm’s Asia Pacific network, with a trio whose work spans restructurings, M&A and banking litigation getting the nod in Hong Kong and another lawyer moving up in Shanghai. 

The only lawyer to move up the ranks in Australia this time round was Sydney-based dispute resolution specialist Naomi Griffin. Last year the firm made up a pair of corporate lawyers in the city, shortly before it added partners David Clee and Elizabeth Hill to the office from local rival Gilbert + Tobin to bolster its financial investor and M&A practice.  

The sole Middle East promotion this time went to Dubai-based Jack Hardman, who focuses on M&A for financial institutions and tech companies. 

As with last year, corporate and global financial markets were the dominant practice areas, with the former gaining 14 new partners and the latter 11. The firm’s litigation and dispute resolution practice welcomed six partners, and a trio moved up the ranks in the tax, pensions and employment team. 

Jeroen Ouwehand, global senior partner, commented: "As well as being the largest new round of partners since 2007, this is our most diverse ever. Together, they embody our pursuit of excellence, and our goal to build a law firm where everyone can see they have a fair chance to reach the top of the profession."

The firm also highlighted that the vast majority of the new partners (34) work with financial investor clients, which it described a ‘key growth priority’. Such clients, which include private equity, funds and real estate investors, grew from 26% (£355m) to 33% (£612m) of its revenue between 2015 and 2021.

Among the 17 lateral hires the firm has made globally over the past year was a private equity partner duo that joined from Kirkland & Ellis last May in Munich, Germany’s PE hub. In June the firm also boosted its London antitrust capabilities with the addition of Sue Hinchliffe, who joined as a partner after nearly five years as global executive counsel in General Electric’s competition law and policy department. 

Clifford Chance is the latest of several UK firms to announce bumper promotions rounds, including Allen & Overy, which earlier this week unveiled a 39-strong partner class, and Ashurst, which last week promoted a record 25 partners.

Meanwhile, the gender balance of Clifford Chance’s latest round places it in the company of City rivals Herbert Smith Freehills, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters, whose cohorts each also comprised 41% women. That meant Freshfields met its diversity target for a second year running for at least 40% of all new partners to be female. 

Last July Clifford Chance posted a 9% increase in its profit per equity partner to £1.85m against a 1% rise in revenue to £1.83bn in the financial year ending 30 April.

 

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