Clifford partners pick Layton to lead global firm

Elizabeth Fournier
LONDON corporate lawyer  Matthew Layton has been named as the next global managing partner of Clifford Chance, replacing David Childs when he steps down early next year.

Layton beat two opponents to the post in the partnership vote, seeing off competition from fellow London partner Andrew Carnegie and Paris boss Yves Wehrli. Layton will begin his four-year term on 1 May 2014.

He will spend from now until then working with current managing partner Childs – who will by then have held the post for eight years – to ensure a smooth transition.

“I feel very proud and honoured to have had the opportunity to serve as the managing partner of Clifford Chance,” Childs said yesterday. “I am confident that in passing the baton on to Matthew I leave the firm in very good hands.”

Layton will be responsible for a team of more than 3,400 legal advisers across 25 countries, and will pick up the mantle from Childs on the firm’s ambitious expansion plans, which include doubling regional revenues in Asia Pacific.

“Clifford Chance enjoys an enviable position, entrusted with the best and most challenging work for many of the world’s most successful and forward-looking organisations,” he said yesterday.

“I am greatly looking forward to working with my fellow partners and colleagues as we continue to build on our position at the forefront of the global legal elite.”


MATTHEW LAYTON, a corporate partner with more than two decades’ service at Clifford Chance, is seen as a natural successor to David Childs – a fellow corporate lawyer who has led the firm for the past seven years.

A rainmaker whose recent big-ticket deals include advising Citigroup on the sale of its EMI assets to Universal Music for £2.5bn last year, and private equity house Permira on its acquisition of Hugo Boss, Layton has been global corporate chief since 2008.

Brought up in Leeds, Layton studied law in his home town before moving to London and joining Clifford Chance in 1983. He made partner in 1991, and quickly built up a reputation as a name to watch, working for big private equity names including Permira and Bridgepoint and Apax Partners.

During his past five years leading the firm’s corporate team, Layton has kept up his client work – including advising EADS on its attempted merger with Britain’s BAE Systems last year. Clifford Chance was brought in to provide English law advice to the French defence giant, but months of discussions between the two firms were ultimately thwarted in October 2012 after political and institutional shareholders failed to agree the terms of the deal.

As he prepares to take over the reins from Childs, the firm is embarking on yet another high-profile mandate. Earlier this week two of its regulatory partners were called in by RBS to conduct an inquiry into the treatment received by small business customers of the bank who were in financial distress. Clifford Chance is expected to report back to RBS on its findings in the New Year.

Layton joins at a time when consolidation in the legal sector is rife, with stiff competition to the Magic Circle emerging as mid-tier firms combine and ramp up their international coverage.