Will the real Clifford Chance (CC) stand up? It is, after all, a key moment for what was not that long ago the world’s most influential law firm but working out what it stands for now can be a challenge.
Taking the long view post-2000, a chasm steadily opened up between its celebrated reputation for vision, meritocracy and entrepreneurialism and a reality that too often meant bureaucracy, strategic drift and an indulgent attitude towards individual contribution.
An excess of management would be one thing if CC was delivering operational excellence and rigour but in too many regards the firm did not. The last 15 years saw the disastrous non-integration of Rogers & Wells, an ill-fated move into California and a continual avoidance of important strategic issues on remuneration and performance management. This allowed others to steal its playbook and execute it more clearly.