‘Chief happiness officer’, ‘micro retreats’ and even a ๐Ÿ˜Ž emoji! Clifford Chance partner sets out vision for future in eye-catching manifesto

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By Aishah Hussain on


Tech lawyer Jonathan Kewley is vying to be managing partner of the London office

One of the UKโ€™s most recognisable law firms could be set for a major overhaul if one of its leading tech lawyers has his way.

Jonathan Kewley, 40, is vying to be the managing partner at the London Canary Wharf headquarters of Clifford Chance, one of five ‘magic circle’ law firms in the UK.

Kewley, who is currently partner and co-head of the firm’s tech practice, this week put forward his “Vision Plan” to partners which included a number of eye-catching proposals and even a smiley sunglasses emoji!

The cool tech guy is proposing a work environment similar to those in Silicon Valley where a “chief happiness officer” ensures that lawyers and staff enjoy “the most vibrant, happy and uplifting place to work in the world”.

Kewley suggests that employees should take “micro-retreats every six weeks” in “cool places we might not have thought of” and have books by their favourite authors sent to them when they are published.

Other ideas outlined in the manifesto include “sponsorship for passion projects and hobbies”, a pilot of a four-day working week and a review of the job title “trainee”.

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Oxford-educated Kewley said the paper is “written from a joyful place”.

“We must foster a culture where holidays (holy days) are sacred”, he said, adding: “What is life if full of care?” and “Letโ€™s surprise, letโ€™s delight, letโ€™s dream.”

Kewley’s manifesto was sent to partners at the firm on Monday, The Lawyer (ยฃ) reports, alongside that of incumbent London MP Michael Bates. It is said to have split opinion at the firm.

Bates’ set of proposals, titled “Priorities”, focus on the recruitment and retention of lawyers.

The role has a four-year term; it’s not elected but decided by global managing partner Matthew Layton, with soundings from London colleagues.

Layton will be departing the role later this year and the firm will soon be led by a lawyer outside of London for the first time. Clifford Chance announced at the end of last year that Milan-based mainland Europe MP Charles Adams will take the reins from May this year.

A spokesperson for Clifford Chance declined to comment.

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