Clifford Chance re-elects managing partner Layton for new four-year term

Clifford Chance (CC) has re-elected Matthew Layton as global managing partner after the firm’s partners voted to hand him a new term at the helm of the firm.

Layton will begin a second four-year term on 1 May next year, following an uncontested election process.

He was first appointed global managing partner in 2013, seeing off competition from Paris managing partner Yves Wehrli and real estate finance partner Andrew Carnegie to secure the post, which he took up on 1 May 2014.

He works in tandem with CC senior partner Malcolm Sweeting, who is in the middle of a second four-year term that began in January 2015.

Layton joined CC in 1983 and has been a partner in the corporate practice since 1991. Before stepping up to the helm of the firm, he spent six years as global head of corporate.

Layton commented: ”It is a huge privilege to continue as managing partner. We have an exciting vision and strategy for the firm; we are already making good progress and I look forward to cementing that momentum in the coming years.”

Layton’s re-election comes as CC ramps up its focus on partner performance. Last month, Legal Week reported that partners are facing more rigorous appraisals that will more closely tie partner pay with performance than ever before. The overhaul is tied to the latest changes to CC’s lockstep, introduced in May, which stretched the top of the lockstep and recalculated profit units.

CC posted strong financial results this year, with turnover climbing 11% to £1.54bn and profit per equity partner soaring by 12% to £1.38m, both of which represent new highs for the firm.

Layton has also restructured the firm’s governance during his tenure, reducing executive group members from 16 to 12, cutting out the regional and practice head elections in favour of an appointment by the managing partner, and introducing three global business units to cover financial markets, M&A and corporate transactions, and risk management and disputes.

Sweeting said: “Matthew has done an excellent job of leading CC, keeping us at the forefront of the legal industry against a backdrop of growing challenges for our clients and disruption within the legal industry itself. I am delighted that he will continue to serve in the role for a second term and [am] confident that he will steer the business from strength to strength.”

CC is also currently in the process of appointing a successor to London managing partner David Bickerton, who is set to step down from the role at the end of the year after serving the maximum of two terms under the firm’s partnership agreement.

It is understood that will be no formal election process, with the appointment made directly by the firm’s senior management.