The Trials of Clifford Chance

Published in Chambers Magazine, Summer 2010

David Childs spent seven years quietly striving to modernise Clifford Chance and raise its profitability. Then Lehman Brothers collapsed.

David Childs recalls the moment Lehman Brothers collapsed like it was yesterday. “It was horrific seeing a house like Lehman go under. But then to realise that Morgan Stanley or Goldmans could be next – that’s when life got very scary.”

For the managing partner of Clifford Chance, the financial crisis that broke in September 2008 was a direct threat. Just over half of Clifford Chance’s business was done for financial institutions. The turmoil on Wall Street meant an immediate reduction in the firm’s business. “We had grown during the boom times, as our clients had grown,” says Childs. “After the demise of Lehmans, it was clear the firm was too big for the marketplace.”

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