The FT reports that top legal adviser Clifford Chance has been accused of pressurising junior lawyers in the US to over record the time they spend on client affairs.
A damaging 13 page internal memo has been made public which claims that the firm engages in a practice of 'padding' - a process where hours spent working for a client are inflated in order to meet internal billing targets. The memo was written by a group of six junior Clifford Chance US lawyers.
The memo is also said to contain a claim that the firm allocates senior lawyers to client work when more junior, and less expensive, collegues are capable of undertaking the task. A spokesman for Clifford Chance has denied the 'padding' accusations. The firm will now need to engage in a major charm offensive to reassure clients that the claims are untrue.
Morale at the firm in the US is already a problem. American Lawyer magazine recently released the results of a job satisfaction survey. Clifford Chance ranked 132nd and last in the poll.