Clifford Chance aims to boost US revenues to 20% of firmwide total

Clifford Chance (CC) is aiming to grow US revenues to 20% of its total fee income, as the firm continues its efforts to ramp up its Stateside presence.

Managing partner Matthew Layton (pictured) set out the target as part of the magic circle firm’s financial reporting for 2016-17. US billings during the 12-month period accounted for 13% of the firm’s total turnover of £1.54bn.

Layton said the target, agreed with US head Evan Cohen, does not have a timescale attached to it, adding: “In the medium term, my view is that our US revenues will be over 20% of the firm’s revenue and profitability should be proportionate.”

Lateral hiring is expected to play a key role in the growth plans, with CC expecting to add additional partners across New York and Washington DC, with the firm’s regulatory practice in particular earmarked for growth.

He added: “We see that growth driven by selected lateral hires. I would expect continued laterals and organic growth in the US – that is a key priority.”

The firm has hired nine lateral partners in the US in just over a year, taking its current partner count to 77. Recent hires include the former group general counsel of Zurich Insurance, Alice Kane, and Joseph Cosentino, who rejoined the firm from Greenberg Traurig. Both partners have joined the corporate practice in New York.

Other high profile hires for the firm in the US include Robert Rice, formerly chief counsel to the chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission in New York. Rice joined CC’s litigation and dispute resolution practice as a partner from Ropes & Gray last summer.

In March 2016, the firm hired Dan Silver from the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where he was deputy chief of the criminal division and chief of the national security and cybercrime section.

Last Wednesday (5 July), CC posted double-digit increases in both revenue and profit per equity partner for 2016-17, taking both metrics to new highs for the firm.

Turnover climbed 11% to £1.54bn. Of this, the firm’s US turnover of £202m was up 15% in sterling, but in dollars was flat. Lawyer count across the US climbed to 258.

In 2015-16, the firm’s US business posted a 6% revenue hike in local currency to £175m, again representing 13% of the total.

Looking to the current financial year, Layton said US revenue since the start of the current financial year was about 10% up compared with the same period last year.