The American Lawyer’s Global 100 report gives a good sense of Clifford Chance’s international presence. Even though London makes up 33% of its revenue, only 29% of Clifford Chance’s lawyers are based in the UK, the lowest in the magic circle.
It’s also the largest magic circle firm and the third largest international firm in the Asia Pacific. Between 2011 and 2016, revenues in the region increased by 50% and it currently contributes approximately 18% of global revenue. The firm is now targeting 25% and recently appointed five new partners in the Asia Pacific. It also brought in new leadership including representatives from China, Australia and Japan to form a 14-partner team.
Clifford Chance’s only base in ASEAN is Singapore after the firm consolidated its Southeast Asia practice in 2017 by ending its alliance in Indonesia and closing its office in Thailand after 22 years. The firm has been present in Singapore for 36 years, where it has a local law practice thanks to its longstanding QFLP licence. It’s also able to practice litigation in the region because of its formal alliance with Cavenagh. The firm has been investing in the region – its office headcount doubled between 2010 and 2014, and it now boasts 23 partners. This has helped it win a number of lucrative mandates, as it advised banks on both Singaporean and international law on the flotation of Netlink NBN Trust. Netlink NBN Trust is responsible for much of the broadband infrastructure in the city-state and its 1.7bn listing was the largest in Singapore since 2011.
The firm has allegedly been looking for a merger partner in China for years. It’s a risky move, but if any magic circle firm were to do it, it would be Clifford Chance. The firm’s investment in the region has seen it party to mega-deals, including its recent role advising the China Investment Corporation in its $13.8bn purchase of Logicor, Blackstone’s European Warehouse. At the time, this was the biggest ever acquisition in the Asia-Pacific region.
Meanwhile, Clifford Chance is also ramping up its presence in the US which boasts a sizeable 300 lawyers and 77 partners, a legacy of its merger with US firm Roger & Wells. The firm recently hired 9 partners in the US and Matthew Layton, the managing partner, has said he wants to see headcount rise to 400. The US contributed 13% to its revenue in 2016-17 and Clifford Chance aims to grow that to 20-25%.