Law firm slaps ban on talking to magazines


Partners at top law firm Clifford Chance have been told they must no longer speak to journalists from The Lawyer and Legal Week after the magazines ran stories to which the company objected.

Recent stories in Legal Week and The Lawyer prompted an e-mail to partners from Clifford Chance chairman Keith Clark three weeks ago.

Staff have been told to direct all calls from the magazines to the press office.

The company objected to stories in the magazines relating to its practice in the US. The Lawyer ran a piece headlined "Bloodbath in New York as C equity is slashed". This was later picked up by The New York Law Journal and The Washington Post.

In his e-mail, Clark wrote: "I am very concerned at how the journalists get hold of their ‘information’ and then try to put our firm in a bad light.

"Please do not be tempted to make any comment when a journalist outlines a story he/she plans to print which deliberately contains inaccuracies in an attempt to lead a well-meaning partner to outline a position."

He added: "This new approach is that we will, in due course, seek discussions with the publishers behind the magazines in question when we will outline our concerns about their editorial policy."

John Malpass, editor of Legal Week, which is published by Global Professional Media, said: "We think it’s a shame because we run countless stories about the good things that Clifford Chance is doing. The danger is that it is shooting itself in the foot." Catrin Griffiths, editor of Centaur Communications’ The Lawyer, said: "We are disappointed by Clifford Chance’s attitude. Our reporting of the New York situation, as with every other story we report, was both fair and accurate. In the past we have had a very close and mutually beneficial relationship with the firm and we hope that will soon be restored."

Clifford Chance declined to comment.

By Mary Stevens

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