Clifford Chance ponders battery farm lawyers

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Office sub-let deal to leading German bank sparks fears of poolside culture clash


“Don’t mention the war” jokes will be wafting around the corridors of magic circle law firm Clifford Chance this week.

The global powerhouse has hit comparatively hard times — reporting, as one legal profession publication delicately described it last week, “subdued” financial results for 2014-15 — and has therefore had to take in a lodger.

According the Legal Business magazine, moving into the firm’s Canary Wharf 33-storey tower block this autumn will be Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, with the lawyers subletting up to 400,000 sq ft to the schnapps-quaffing storm troopers of high finance.

CC’s managing partner, Matthew Layton, told the magazine that not only would the deal provide the firm with some useful monthly readies in the form of rent, it would result in the lawyers “using space more effectively”.

And while all Clifford Chance London staff will take some comfort from Layton’s assurance that the accommodation shake-up does not herald a wider programme of redundancies, there is still plenty to cause concern.

Efficient use of space has all the undertones of redesigned floor plans that could lead to battery farm lawyer working conditions.

So just how welcome the Germans will be when they throw their towels down around the prime spots at CC’s renowned staff swimming pool remains to be seen.


But it probably doesn’t help matters that the Bomb Site Project — which maps Luftwaffe attack patterns during the 1940 Blitz — shows that Göring’s pilots dropped at least one special gift effectively on the site of what is now CC’s senior partnership lavatories.

Play nicely in that pool together, boys and girls.