Clifford Chance, the largest law firm in the world, is to axe 8 per cent of its staff in the City. It warned staff yesterday that 70 to 80 lawyers would be made redundant. Insiders added they would be surprised if many of its peers did not follow with job cuts in the coming months.
Clifford Chance employs 1,000 in Canary Wharf, and 3,800 worldwide.
Jeremy Sandelson, the London regional managing partner, said clients' needs had changed over the past year as they have been hit by the credit crunch. "We have not taken this decision lightly. However, like any other business, we have to respond to prevailing market conditions."
Clifford Chance became the first law firm to register revenues of over $1bn in 2006. It advises companies on issues including mergers and acquisitions, raising money in the capital markets, and finance and banking. Since the onset in the credit crunch the markets have seen few new equity issues, M&A has hit a wall and banking is in a parlous state.
"By taking action now, we believe we will be well placed once conditions begin to improve," Mr Sandelson said.
A spokeswoman for the group said the cut in headcount will not include trainees.
The firm is separately reviewing its business services division, which includes technology, human resources, marketing and secretarial support. This could also lead to redundancies.
Beleaguered partners were also hit in their wallets after the company asked them to contribute up to £100,000 to the group. The company said that as part of the "ongoing management of the firm's finances, our partnership recently voted in favour of an increase to equity partners' capital contributions to match the growth in our business since the last call". The company added it was "one of a number of standard financial measures that we take from time to time".
Clifford Chance traces its roots back to 1802, but took on its modern guise following the merger of Clifford-Turner and Coward Chance in 1987.