Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance has spoken out about the upcoming referendum that will see British citizens voting to either stay within the EU or leave. Large law firms are often reluctant to announce their orientation of certain political questions as not to alienate themselves from current or perspective clients. Nevertheless, in an email reportedly sent to employees by senior partner Malcolm Sweeting and managing partner Matthew Layton, the firm has taken the exceptional step of announcing its support for Britain to remain in the EU. The email read, “we are of the view that it is in the interests of the City, of many of our clients’ businesses and of the firm for the UK to remain in the EU”. The firm stated further that despite their political alignment on this matter, they would not be involved in any campaigns.
Clifford Chance is the only firm that has stepped forward to announce its support while many other firms remain hesitant. However, a number of individual lawyers have shown their support independently from their firm’s silence. David Morley, Allen & Overy’s senior part has spoken out in favour of Britain remaining in the EU. Similarly, a group of over 300 City lawyers have congregated to show their support for maintaining Britain’s EU membership. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner John Davies leads this group named, Lawyers – In for Britain, while still maintaining that his views are not those of his firm’s. The group is opposed by Lawyers for Britain, headed by Martin Howe QC, a barrister at 8 New Square Chambers. The group is of the belief that Britain should leave the EU in order to negotiate a better relationship which seeks to preserve trading links while ensuring that they are governed by domestic laws.