‘It was so long ago,’ reflects Malcolm Sweeting, Clifford Chance’s (CC) senior partner, of his promotion to partner in 1990. ‘My only involvement in the process was playing football in Hackney one winter when a junior partner sidled up. “It’s all looking good,” he cryptically confided, before sidling away. Later, the senior partner rang me to say congratulations.’
Nearly 30 years from that night, the once obtuse path to partnership has been replaced with an excess of procedure, meaning the latest generation of partners has gone through a very different tournament to their colleagues currently nearing retirement.