CMS Cameron McKenna LLP


Since its start in 1997, CMS Cameron McKenna has become a significant force among large City firms, with a major pan-European presence.  The firm really made waves in 2008, when it saw a massive 30 per cent growth in profit per equity partner (PEP) and a 19 per cent hike in turnover.  This success was in no small part due to the success of its CMS international alliance and in particular the firm's Central and Eastern European (CEE) practice: Almost a quarter of its sizeable turnover was generated outside London.  The firm has also appeared four times on The Sunday Times' list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For", most recently ranking 74th in 2009.


CMS Cameron McKenna is noted for its strength in banking and finance, commercial litigation, real estate, and its clout in the energy and insurance sectors.  Indeed, the firm was among the first in the UK to divide up its practice areas by industry sector.  It currently concentrates on eight sectors: consumer products; energy and utilities; technology, media and telecoms; infrastructure and project finance; financial institutions and services; life sciences; construction and development; and hotels and leisure.  With insurance and reinsurance practices based in London, the firm's Scottish offices provide specialist services to the North Sea Oil industry.  The banking and corporate practices saw a strong 2008, with both divisions growing by 20 per cent.

Reflecting Camerons' strength in the energy and insurance sectors, some of the firm's most active clients are Swiss Re Group, BP, GE, Deutsche Bank, Prudential and John Laing.  Other clients have included the British government, National Grid, Ferrari, LDC and LGV.  Camerons' corporate practice has won a number of new clients in the last year, including Alfred McAlpine, Arcapita and hotel group Accor, and roles on deals for energy companies Vattenfall and Arawak Energy.  

Easy as A, B, CEE

In 1999, CMS Cameron McKenna set up a network of European law firms known as CMS.  While in its early days the network lacked cohesion, in 2008 new efforts were begun to make the organisation into a more cooperative entity.  The network, which is headquartered in Frankfurt, currently boasts nine member firms, with 59 offices, 595 partners and 2,240 lawyers.

A convergence strategy for the CMS network began to pay off in mid-2008.  In Russia, a merger was announced in November 2008 between the three CMS firms operating there: CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre, CMS Cameron McKenna and CMS Hasche Sigle.  The three firms brought together their Moscow operations to form one entity, which is the largest international firm in Moscow.  Russia has been the scene of some significant work for Camerons including advising on $20 billion worth of infrastructure projects.

CMS Cameron McKenna settled in CEE early enough to get a significant foothold ahead of the competition, and the region today makes up a quarter of the firm's revenue.  Camerons' new managing partner as of 2008, Duncan Weston, was formerly CEE regional head, and its success during his tenure-its revenue tripled-can't have hurt his climb to the firm's foremost seat.  In January 2009, CMS Cameron McKenna was named "Central and Eastern European Law Firm of the Year" for 2009 by PLC Which Lawyer?, an award won twice in the last three years.

Fighting out the crisis

In financial year 2007-2008, litigators firmwide brought in about one quarter of the firm's total revenue, and with the credit crunch of 2008 came a surge in disputes work relating to it.  In response to the credit crunch, CMS Cameron McKenna decided to launch a dispute resolution team in 2008.  Headed by partner Liam O'Connell, the new group comprises 39 partners and 270 associates from all dispute-related teams, including  mediation, expert determination, litigation, arbitration and adjudication.
Power brokers

On the transactional side, recent deals include advising RWE on its joint venture with E.ON to develop nuclear power stations in the UK.  Camerons also advised the Holdfast Consortium on its Royal School of Military Engineering public private partnership with the Ministry of Defence.  The PPP was valued at £300 million capital spend and £2.7 billion revenue spend over 30 years, and will deliver a range of services, including training, training support and new buildings for the RSME.

CMS Cameron McKenna also acted for longtime client Sainsbury's Supermarkets in its £83 million acquisition of 24 stores from the Co-Operative Group in March 2009.  The following month, the firm advised Clinicenta Limited, a health care services specialist, on a  £122 million scheme to build and operate a new Surgicentre in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.  

New rung on the partnership ladder

In the last few years, CMS Cameron McKenna has made several changes to its partnership structure.  In 2007, the firm added a tier of salaried partners to its formerly all-equity partnership.  In 2009, the firm extended to its UK offices the role of local or office partner already in place in its CEE network.  CMS Cameron McKenna now has three stages of partnership: senior associates are promoted to office partner (a salaried position), then move to a new tier as a gateway partner before joining the equity.

In April 2009, the firm promoted 17 partners to the new office partner role and moved five office partners up to the gateway level.  At the same time, Camerons asked for a number of equity partners to volunteer to step down to fixed-share status; 16 partners, or 12 per cent of the partnership, opted for de-equitisation.

Creative ways to cut costs

In other internal news, CMS Cameron McKenna joined the ranks of other UK firms asking future trainees to defer the start of their training programme.  Camerons has offered £7,500 to approximately 15 volunteers from the upcoming August 2009 and February 2010 intakes who agree to defer for 12 months.

Unable to avoid the wave of redundancies sweeping UK firms, at the start of May 2009, CMS Cameron McKenna launched discussions that could see 80 staff, including 20 lawyers, made redundant.  The firm has proposed additional measures to reduce expenses, including a new scheme called "Flex", through which all staff except partners and trainees are eligible for four-day working weeks, secondment programmes and sabbatical options.

CMS Cameron McKenna LLP

Mitre House
160 Aldersgate Street
London EC1A 4DD
Phone: +44 (0)20 7367 3000


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing partner: Duncan Weston
  • Total No. Attorneys 2009: 676

Major Office Locations

  • Algiers, Algeria
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Antwerp, Belgium
  • Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Shanghai, China
  • Beijing, China
  • Zagreb, Croatia
  • New York, NY
  • Casablanca, Morocco
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Arnhem, Netherlands
  • Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Warsaw, Poland
  • Prague, Poland
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Belgrade, Serbia
  • Bratislava, Slovak Republic
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
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  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Kiev, Ukraine
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  • London, United Kingdom
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Bristol, United Kingdom
  • Aberdeen, United Kingdom
  • Paris, France
  • Lyon, France
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  • Munich, Germany
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Frankfurt, Germany
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  • Budapest, Honduras
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  • Kuwait City, Kuwait
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