Clifford Chance ups use of 'superpoint' tier with at least three London partners now on £2m









Clifford Chance (CC) has added more partners to the small group of star performers sitting in the ‘superpoints’ tier of its recently revamped lockstep.

At least three London partners have now been awarded with the maximum available points, equating to £2m apiece for the 2016-17 financial year, Legal Week can reveal.

Several sources told Legal Week that there are now five or six partners globally in what has been dubbed the ‘superpoint’ tier, with the remainder of the top earners working in New York.

Partners and ex-partners said those in London in the elite group include global asset finance head William Glaister, global private equity head Jonny Myers and private equity/M&A partner Spencer Baylin.

CC partners voted to stretch the firm’s lockstep earlier this year in a bid to increase pay for top performers, with all partners’ positions reassessed as part of the overhaul.

According to some within the firm, the change put the top of the lockstep at about 190 points.

Previously, CC’s core lockstep ran to a plateau of 100 points, with a handful of partners on 115 and 130 ‘super-point’ levels introduced in 2015.

Commenting on this year’s changes, one partner said: “You used to get to a certain level and hit a plateau, but now we just talk about ‘superpoints’. There is just one ladder and there is potential for people to move through the point system.”

A former partner added: “I think they scrapped the 115 and 130 ‘superpoint’ levels because they were not high enough. I was surprised they thought they needed to pay the London partners as much as this. I thought it was designed to keep the New Yorkers happy.”

The firm’s decision to reward more partners with top pay comes after CC opted to cap earnings for the majority of its plateau German partners at 70 points instead of 100.

It is understood that many partners in offices across continental Europe, the Middle East, Australia and parts of Asia also saw their positions capped at 70 points from May, as a result of a review that started around October last year.

The promotions in private equity follow a spate of exits from the City practice to US rivals.

In 2015, the firm’s former global co-head of private equity Oliver Felsenstein joined Latham along with fellow partner Burc Hesse in Germany.

Previously, Latham hired CC’s Africa co-head Kem Ihenacho in London in 2014, while the year before the US firm recruited CC’s then global private equity head David Walker and private equity partner Tom Evans.

Back in 2009, one of the firm’s big-hitters in M&A and private equity, Adam Signy, also departed to join Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

CC declined to comment.