It is very much based on merit.
From a junior's perspective, the first few years are lock-step, and I couldn't speak to the relative ease/difficulty of advancement after that.
Graduate, Perth, Australia
Career advancement and promotion is decent at a junior-mid level and there is no restriction to the type of work that you are given. Promotion to partnership from Counsel level appears to be difficult.
Like most law firms, promotions require hard work and may take several years.
This is more difficult due to the small size of Clifford Chance in Sydney - could be improved.