Legal Business Blogs

Clifford Chance global managing partner vote: Layton takes the crown

The long-awaited decision over who will replace David Childs as Clifford Chance’s global managing partner (MP) has been announced, with the partnership electing global head of corporate Matthew Layton to take over the top management role after voting closed yesterday evening (27 November).

Layton (pictured above with Childs) was widely cited in the early stages of the election process as favourite to lead the 3,017-lawyer Magic Circle firm, with challengers emerging as Paris-based office managing partner and M&A lawyer Yves Wehrli; global head of tax, pensions and employment David Harkness; and City-based banking and finance partner Andrew Carnegie.

One of the four global MP candidates needed to secure at least 50% of the vote yesterday. If not, a second round of voting would have taken place between the top two candidates, and a result would not have come out until next month.

The sounding process for nominations opened in October, while the shortlist of candidates was confirmed to the partnership this month. While existing and ex-partners have said there was no one obvious successor to take over Child’s mantle, Layton’s position appeared to strengthen as the election process wore on.

Layton said on the news of his election: ‘Clifford Chance enjoys an enviable position, entrusted with the best and most challenging work for many of the world’s most successful and forward-looking organisations. The evolution of global markets is creating new opportunities and risks for our clients. For these organisations, Clifford Chance’s well-established ‘one firm’ approach that combines expertise and deep experience across sectors, practices and geographies around the world is of huge value. I am greatly looking forward to working with my fellow partners and colleagues as we continue to build on our position at the forefront of the global legal elite.’

Layton will take over the four-year term on 1 May 2014 from Childs, who himself took over as managing partner on 1 May 2006.

Childs added: ‘I feel very proud and honoured to have had the opportunity to serve as the managing partner of Clifford Chance. I am confident that in passing the baton on to Matthew I leave the firm in very good hands. I know that Matthew is as ambitious for the firm as I have been, and I’m sure Clifford Chance will go from strength to strength under his leadership.’

The global MP election follows a run of senior appointments, including finance partner David Bickerton, who was elected to serve a further four-year term as London managing partner in an uncontested election.

Bickerton’s election followed the appointment of banking and finance partner Simon Sinclair as London capital markets head, succeeding securitisation partner Andrew Forryan, as current London tax, pensions and employment (TPE) chief Chris Davies was simultaneously elected to replace David Harkness as global TPE head.

In October, high profile litigator Jeremy Sandelson – who early in the global MP election process was tipped as a possible contender for the role – was re-appointed as global head of the litigation and dispute resolution practice for a second term in an uncontested election.