What you need to know about… Clifford Chance

October 15, 2021

4 min read

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An intro to the firm

The 1987 merger between Coward Chance and Clifford Turner gave rise to the youngest of the five Magic Circle law firms, Clifford Chance. Since then, Clifford Chance has made a big impact. It ranked second in the 2019/20 revenue for UK law firms, boasts an impressive global reach of 36 offices operating in 23 different countries, including offices in some less-frequented developing legal markets such as Sao Paulo and Casablanca, and takes on 95 trainees, one of the largest trainee intakes, for its UK operations per year. Corporate and banking work are the dominant revenue generators for the firm, which also has a growing litigation and dispute resolution practice. To characterise the firm in three words, Clifford Chance is big, international and corporate.

Its key strengths

The firm’s corporate and M&A practice group boasts a second-to-none reputation and a range of clients that are typically the most significant players in their industry. This includes banks such as Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Telecommunication, Media and Technology companies such as EE and one of the world’s largest telephone operators and mobile network providers in the world Telefonica and leading manufacturers such as Airbus, Siemens and General Electric to name but a few! 

Banks

Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs

TMT companies

EE, Telefonica

Manufacturers

Airbus, Siemens and General Electric

What does Clifford Chance’s corporate team do for these companies? They help them navigate risk and regulators, undergo due diligence, draft, negotiate and finalise documents until the deal is done! For example, in 2020 Clifford Chance advised Telefonica on the enormous £31 billion joint venture between O2 (Telefonica owns the UK subsidiary of O2) and Liberty Global’s Virgin Media. Complex and large-scale deals like this saw Clifford Chance be awarded TMT M&A Law Firm of the Year’ at the TMT M&A Awards 2020 and Corporate Team of The Year 2020 at The Lawyer awards. 

The firm’s deal-making drive is balanced with band 1-ranked expertise in Restructuring and Insolvency that is likely to continue to be important following the pandemic. Clifford Chance has worked on the biggest and most challenging R&I efforts out there including Thomas Cook and British Steel. Given this breadth, it is unsurprising that Clifford Chance are often the go-to law firm for profit-hungry deal-making private equity firms like Blackstone and CVC, another good metric of a firm’s corporate strength.

To complement this full service corporate offering of the highest calibre, the firm is well-known for its ability to help those tap into the money markets. Consistently ranked in bands 1 and 2 by Chambers for its Capital Markets and Banking and Finance teams, Clifford Chance is working at the cutting-edge of this sector. Examples include advising HQLAx on the first live securities lending transaction settled using R3’s Corda blockchain platform, helping Huatai Securities to undergo the first London GDR listing under the new Shanghai-London Stock Connect scheme and advising Shell on pioneering its post-LIBOR, sustainability-linked USD 10bn revolving credit facility.

HQLAx

First live securities lending transaction settled using R3’s Corda blockchain platform

Huatai Securities

First London GDR listing under the new Shanghai-London Stock Connect scheme

Shell 

Pioneering its post-LIBOR, sustainability-linked USD 10bn revolving credit facility

Training, training, training...

As for the quality of Clifford Chance’s training, it is uniquely supportive, innovative and expert. 

First, Clifford Chance is keen on early recruitment. This is done so that the firm can support and help develop their future trainees as much as possible before they start at the firm. Clifford Chance’s Learning Internships for Future Trainees, or LIFT scheme, offers future trainees practical paid work experience so that they can develop their skills. This is complemented by the Clifford Chance Academy that is renowned for the high quality of its training. Once a trainee, the firm’s investment in legal technology, with a dedicated legal support centre in Newcastle, allows trainees to get the most out of their TCs, automating some of the more mundane tasks so trainees have time to do more complex work.

Second, Clifford Chance provides loads of opportunities to explore innovation. The Tech Academy, part of the Clifford Chance Academy, teaches trainees and lawyers about the latest technological trends. And if technology is really your thing, Clifford Chance even offers a tech-focused training contract IGNITE. The firm is also focused on providing the latest tech to clients. It develops this in-house through Clifford Chance Applied Solution, a subsidiary of Clifford Chance that develops new legal tech tools. Trainees have opportunities to experience this side of their business through the LIFT scheme and during their TC.

Thirdly, Clifford Chance is home to a huge amount of legal expertise. With band 1 teams in most practices, trainees are learning from lawyers at the top of their respective industries. This is only enhanced by the breadth of experience of offer with the firm’s secondments to places like Hong Kong, Paris and Sao Paulo.

Report written by a LittleLaw Reporter

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