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Clifford Chance overhauls its management structure with introduction of new executive leadership group

Clifford Chance (CC) has today (24 July) announced a raft of changes to its governance structure, including the establishment of a new 12-strong executive leadership group and the creation of three global business units to cover financial markets; M&A and corporate transactions; and risk management and disputes.

Chaired by global managing partner Matthew Layton, the slimmed-down executive group will take responsibility for setting and implementing the City giant’s strategy.

Members of the new executive group will include the incoming heads of the global business units and three regional managing partners (RMP) for the Americas; and Asia Pacific and the newly created role of Continental Europe managing partner. The inaugural executive group will also include the regional head for Germany, though London and Middle Eastern regional managing partners will not sit on the group.

A spokesperson for the firm said: ‘The RMP Germany will have a seat on the [executive leadership group] by invitation not as a right. Given the German market faces a number of specific challenges and opportunities, and given its strategic importance, it makes sense now for Germany to sit on the [leadership team]. This will be kept under review.’

The appointments of the regional managing partners are, however, expected to be subject to a ‘soundings’ process, meaning the RMP line-up may change. The firm has yet to appoint heads for the global business units.

Further places on the reformed core leadership team are to be awarded to the executive partner and general counsel (Chris Perrin), global head of people and talent (Laura King), the chief financial officer (Stephen Purse) and the chief operating officer (Amanda Burton).

The new structure replaces the Magic Circle firm’s 16-strong executive committee, which had a broader coverage of practice heads including London regional managing partner David Bickerton, head of finance Mark Campbell, head of corporate Guy Norman and global head of disputes Jeremy Sandelson.

The newly-created GBUs, meanwhile, are oriented around the firm’s clients and are aligned with its six practice areas, which will remain intact. They will be headed by representatives drawn from across the practice areas and regions, ‘to maximise collaboration and integration of expertise from across the firm’.

The firm said the revamp was made with a view to ensuring that its ‘leadership and management structures reflect the needs of a fast-evolving global market place’.

The new structure, which was approved by a vote of the partners, will take effect on 1 September 2014.

CC’s partnership council will continue its current supervisory role, reviewing the effectiveness of the firm’s leadership and management and ensuring that appointments to leadership roles in the firm are ‘handled effectively and with due regard to the interests of the partnership’.

Layton said: ‘This simplified leadership group reflects the fact that our firm, our clients and the market have changed significantly since 2000 when the current governance was put in place, just after our mergers. I see huge potential for Clifford Chance in this new landscape. Our great strength is the ability to provide clients with seamless access to the great depth and range of expertise around the globe, and across sectors, product and practice areas. I look forward to working with the ELG and the whole of the partnership to ensure that’s exactly what we deliver to every client with every interaction.’