The Guardian reports that lawyer Clifford Chance is being sued by a former US rival who claims that the Magic Circle firm put it out of business by poaching 16 of its top fee-earners.
Clifford Chance is accused in the suit, filed by former staff at erstwhile rival Brobeck Phleger & Harrison, of 'conspiracy' and 'despicable conduct' after the firm hired away several of Brobeck's revenue-generators, it lost business and eventually collapsed. The former staff at Brobeck, who are claiming at least $100m in compensation, have also filed against their ex-chairman, Tower Snow, whose May 2002 departure for Clifford Chance is said to have set off the chain of events which lead to the law firm's demise.
Snow is accused of 'shopping' Brobeck's securities litigation group to Clifford Chance while he was still a partner. It has also been alleged that Brobeck unknowingly picked up the expenses tab when its then lawyers went to London for discussions with Clifford Chance partners.
A spokesman for Clifford Chance has said that the suit is 'without merit' and confirmed that it will be 'vigorously' contested. The spokesman added: 'We find the notion that Clifford Chance is responsible for the collapse of Brobeck to be absurd. We believe we acted appropriately (at all times)'.