News that major law firm Clifford Chance is set to cut up to 80 lawyers from its London complement has sent nervous shivers about the London legal market, as reported in LawFuel.co.nz – see: <a href= Clifford Chance Cutbacks
LawFuel.co.nz is the New Zealand Legal jobs newswire. The move, which will put nearly one in 10 of Clifford Chance’s London lawyers under threat, makes the firm the first top London law firm to launch a formal redundancy programme in the UK in recent memory.
UK legal newspaper LegalWeek reports that Clifford Chance had already laid off 20 US litigators last year, citing a general lack of disputes work. In contrast, the UK job cuts are expected to come across the board as Clifford Chance carries out a comprehensive review of its practice.
London regional managing partner Jeremy Sandelson said: “We have not taken this decision lightly. However, like any other business, we have to respond to prevailing market conditions.
“Our clients and their legal services needs have undergone significant change over the past year. We need to reflect that in the London office, and that includes ensuring that our level of staffing is appropriate for today’s economic realities. By taking action now, we believe we will be well-placed once conditions begin to improve.”
A Clifford Chance spokesperson added that the firm’s 200 UK trainees were unaffected by the review and stressed that CC intended to maintain its current level of graduate and trainee intake. The spokesperson also said that the firm has no current plans for job cuts across its foreign offices.
Job cuts early in the New Year had been expected by partners after it was confirmed in December that CC’s revenues had shrunk by 5%-7% in the first half of the current financial year.
However, the scale of the proposed cuts will be seen as stark evidence that the global recession is now having a substantive impact on some of the world’s largest law firms, despite their status as downturn-resistant businesses. CC is regarded to have so far fared worse than its London peers, in part due to its heavy exposure to struggling practice areas such as private equity and capital markets.
The news follows reports that fellow Magic Circle giant Linklaters is also cutting back US staff bonuses. See <a href= Linklaters Cutbacks