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Clifford Chance makes up 17 City partners in largest promotion round since 2007

Clifford Chance (CC) has promoted 37 lawyers to the partnership including 17 in the City, making it the latest Magic Circle firm to announce increased partner rounds in 2022.

All of the Magic Circle firms saw a jump in partner promotions this year, including the typically conservative Slaughter and May, which made up eight lawyers, an increase from five in 2021. Meanwhile, Allen & Overy’s 39-strong promotion round globally – including 13 in London – marks a step up from 30 last year. Linklaters promoted 41, up from 35 in 2021 and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer minted 27 compared with 22 last year.

The investments will be viewed as a reaction to market forces which have seen many firms across the Square Mile struggle to keep up with ramped up client demand since the onset of the pandemic, as well as being a statement of intent as competition for star lawyers continues unabated.

At CC, the promotions, which take effect next month, reflect the firm’s sustained push in private equity, funds and real estate investors, with 34 of the cohort working with financial investor clients. In 2021, work for financial investor clients made up 33% (£612m) of the firm’s revenue, up from 26% (£355m) in 2015. Global senior partner Jeroen Ouwehand (pictured) claims that the new round is also the firm’s most diverse. Women made up 41% of the cohort while 23% of the 21 new partners across the UK and US who have disclosed ethnicity identify as non-white. Ouwehand said that the promotions ‘embody our uncompromising pursuit of excellence, and our ambitious goals to build a law firm where everyone can see they have a fair chance to reach the top of the profession.’

At Linklaters and Freshfields, women also made up 41% of the firms’ respective partner promotions for 2022. The percentage of incoming female partners at Allen & Overy was 36% while at Slaughter and May, litigator Megan Sandler was the only woman promoted.

Outside of the Magic Circle, Herbert Smith Freehills was among the other City firms which have announced bumper promotion rounds this week, with 34 added to the partnership across its global network — the largest cohort in the firm’s history.

Any message from the Magic Circle of such investment in the talent pipeline must of course be applauded, but one can’t help but feel vaguely disconcerted by the ever more frequent comparisons of 2022 with 2007.