CC London managing partner Bickerton to step down at end of the year

Clifford Chance (CC) London managing partner David Bickerton will step down at the end of the year, after two terms at the helm of the firm’s City headquarters.

Bickerton, whose leadership term is due to expire at the end of December, will have spent eight years in the role, after serving the maximum of two terms under the firm’s partnership agreement.

According to one CC partner, the firm is yet to put forward the name of his successor to the wider partnership. It is understood that will be no formal election process, with the appointment made directly by the firm’s senior management.

Bickerton was first elected to the post in 2009, officially starting on 1 January 2010. He took the role after a contested election, seeing off competition from then finance chief Mark Stewart, who has retired from the firm, and former capital markets partner Stephen Roith, who quit for Sidley Austin the following year.

Four years later, he was reappointed unopposed to serve a second four-year term in the role.

Partners and former partners are uncertain as to who could be a worthy successor. One CC partner said: “Who would want the job? Bickerton would be a hard act to follow. He has done a good job.”

A number of ex-CC partners told Legal Week that global corporate head Guy Norman would be a suitable candidate, although it is understood that he is unlikely to take the role.

Under Bickerton’s watch, CC has enjoyed a number of successes. In 2015, the firm sealed a deal to leased 400,000 sq ft of office space – nearly half of its 1,000,000 sq ft offices – to Deutsche Bank. The following year, managing partner Matthew Layton credited this move as “a major factor” in cost reductions.

In 2013, the firm was also appointed as the official law firm of the Rugby World Cup 2015 after a competitive pitch process.

One ex-partner commented: “He has had a good term. Shipping Deutsche Bank into the building has led to a big financial saving and been perceived as a success. He has made a positive impact such as winning the Rugby World Cup contract, and has encouraged a good momentum of hiring.”

CC is led by managing partner Layton, who was appointed to serve a four-year term from May 2014, while senior partner Malcolm Sweeting was reappointed to serve a second four-year term from January 2015.

Earlier this year, the firm posted double-digit increases in both revenue and profit per equity partner (PEP), taking both metrics to new highs for the firm. Turnover climbed 11% to £1.54bn, with PEP soaring by 12% to £1.38m, results Layton attributed in part to ” a resilient performance in London”.

CC declined to comment.