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Overview

Introduction

 

Freshfields is ideal for associates seeking exciting international work. The firm is in an expansion phase, which means lots of opportunity for early hand-on experience—plus strong mentorship and a friendly culture are additional perks. In the U.S. specifically, the firm works across more than a dozen industries, including automotive, chemicals, consumer goods, energy and natural resources, financial institutions, financial sponsors, government and public sector, infrastructure and transport, manufacturing...

Firm Stats


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Total No. Attorneys (2021)


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No. of Partners Named (2021)


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Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100...


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No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2020)



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No. of Summer Associates (2021)



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Base Salary

U.S. Offices...

Vault Verdict

 

Freshfields gravitates toward candidates from top law schools, but personality is crucial, and international experience is a big plus. This is a firm where colleagues care about one another at every level and are a social bunch. Partners are respectful of and invested in associates. Information about firm performance and finances is shared freely, but specifics about promotions are reportedly a bit vague. There is no billable-hours requirement, which most view as a positive, and a new coordinator is making progress toward more-even work distribution. Associates are very pleased with compensation, which is market and has matched recent special bonuses. The work—much of it cross-border—is interesting, and associates are given assignments as challenging as th...

About the Firm

 

For more than 250 years, Freshfields has remained a constant at the top of the U.K. and European legal market. With 27 international offices, the firm has expanded its reach around the globe and recently has become a player in the United States with growing offices in New York; Silicon Valley; and Washington, DC. Its U.S.-qualified team is now 380 strong, with roughly a third of the U.S. partnership and associate team having joined since the start of 2019.

Established Name, Modern Growth

Founded in 1743, Freshfields just might be the oldest international law firm in the world. Its first client was the Bank of England, which remains a firm client to this day. In 1801, the first Freshfield, James William Freshfield, joined the firm as a partner. Successive g...

Associate Reviews


  • “Everyone at the firm is very friendly and genuinely cares about the well-being of their colleagues—that has been apparent from my first day with the firm. …”
  • “Diverse firm with people from all over the world and speaking various languages. Very collegial environment where people from different teams frequently interact in a non-work atmosphere. Partners typically have [an] open-door policy, which also facilitates the discussions between associates and partners. Interaction with the staff is also nice, as the firm frequently organizes non-work activities where everyone is welcome and it is frequent to see staff and lawyers interact.”
  • “The firm has put in a lot of effort to make sure colleagues are still able to socialize virtually during the pandemic.”
  • “The DC office is a bit quieter than NY, but everyone is very kind and interacts with each other outside of work regularly (at least pre-COVID).”
  • “All the partners I've interfaced with have been excellent to work with. They are straightforward, respectful, and invested in developing the associates. I feel the firm could at times do a better job of transparency around bonuses and performance reviews.”
  • “The partners I've worked closely with have really impressed me with how much they seem to value me and my contributions. I've been on matters where it is just me and a senior partner and others where there are two-to-three or many other associates working under a few partners on a larger matter. Regardless of the size, the partners have taken time to work directly with me, and it's not uncommon for me to find myself having a conversation with a partner on a tricky substantive issue in the case and us working together on how to solve it.”
  • “There is a very open and honest relationship amongst partners and associates. Partners speak one-on-one with associates very frequently about career development and performance. The firm is transparent about finances and gives periodic reports with an annual report by region.”
  • “[I] feel heard and valued. … There are relatively clear milestones for advancement as an associate, and appraisals are held annually after your first year.”
  • “We have no formal billable hour requirement, and it is fantastic.  If I spend a few hours contributing to thought leadership, I don't have to worry about ‘making up’ those hours to get my bonus or anything, and I'm still learning at the same time.”
  • “We recently hired a new person dedicated to work allocation. She has made hours much more even across the board. …”
  • “Overall, I'm happy—I feel like we get substantive work and responsibility early on, and while the hours can be intense sometimes, they are generally balanced out by lean periods. The firm has a flexible remote working policy which is definitely a plus as well.”

 

  • “The firm is at market in terms of salary and bonuses. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the firm match Davis Polk (and other firms) at the top end of the special COVID bonus scale—it showed that Freshfields was serious about its commitment to be a major player in the U.S. market.”
  • “The work is very interesting and challenging; it is highly international. There is a good mix of drafting, research, and document review for juniors.”
  • “We work on top-tier international M&A deals. On smaller deals, I am generally responsible for running the deal from start to finish with almost complete autonomy, which provides me with a sense that I am trusted and valued. On larger deals, I work directly with a partner in a collaborative manner to provide clients with the support they need.”
  • “At my level, the work is very substantive. I run cases, draft pleadings, conduct cross examinations, deliver oral arguments, manage teams of associates, discuss and define strategy with clients, and act as point person for key clients. I also do a lot of business development and thought leadership. I speak on panels, write articles and blog pieces, and mentor and recruit associates.”
  • “Nobody ever gets shut down if they want to try to something outside their comfort zone. The partners and senior attorneys are more than willing to give juniors and mid-levels opportunities that require them to do things they haven't done before. …”
  • “The firm has put in a lot of effort in order to invest in its technology. I think for years this has been a weak point for the firm, but they've really made progress in the past year. It's still by no means perfect, but it's so much better.”
  • “Since the beginning of COVID, Freshfields has improved and modernized its technology immensely. I have not had any technology problems in the last twelve months. The firm, worldwide, has committed to legal tech innovation—this is mostly led by our European offices, but this has certainly benefitted or U.S. offices as well.”
  • “We adapted in less than 48 hours. We use Microsoft Teams for video calls regularly and we feel connected to each other way more than my peers at other law firms.”
  • “During the pandemic, the firm has shown (or developed) a more sophisticated sense of wellness for employees that feels sincere. It has moved away from the classic firm model of ‘have you tried another wellness seminar?’ and moved to concrete policies and nice perks. For example, a free subscription to the Calm app (meditation, music, etc.), or instituting a couple firmwide days off in May and September. I think the most valuable thing has been recognition that actual rest is necessary for wellness. I hope this positive attention to wellness and health continues past the pandemic.”
  • “The firm offers quite a bit, but I haven't taken advantage.”
  • “There are several options of buy-in wellness efforts. The firm reminds us periodically about them and their importance.”
  • “I came to Freshfields because I knew I'd get excellent mentorship and training. While we do have formal trainings, the firm also does a great job of an ‘apprentice’-style mentorship where associates are involved in things that they might not otherwise get exposure to until nearing partner candidacy at other firms. For example, associates are involved in business pitches, witness prep, and other client-facing work.”
  • “The sponsorship at the firm is largely informal once you begin as an associate. I feel that certain partners and counsel are extremely committed to mentoring and make themselves very available. There could be a greater investment into training; it was limited for my class, but I think that the firm is trying to make that more of a priority.”
  • “The firm has so much formal training (much of it optional) that I don't use nearly all of it. There are also opportunities to say what you'd like to learn more about and get more training, though I haven't found this necessary. The firm is also in partnership with Oxford University for a program on Commercial and Business Fundamentals.”
  • “The M&A practice group holds dozens of training throughout the year that are led primarily by associates, so we have the opportunity to learn at certain aspects of the deal and build our presentation skills. …”
  • “The partnership process is not completely transparent to junior- and mid-level associates. Partnership seems like a realistic goal for some practice groups, but not all practice groups.”
  • “Promotion is certainly realistic, as is advancement to special counsel and counsel along the way. The client work M&A associates do—especially with new clients to the firm brought in by partners recruited within the last year-and-a-half—seems to position them very well to move to in-house jobs in numerous industries.”
  • “Promotion to partner is realistic here, maybe more so than other firms since we are currently in growth mode. There are roles as counsel, special counsel and practice group leads that seniors can transition to. There are lots of opportunities to exit to corporate and pro bono clients as well as government positions.”
  • “Pro bono hours count as billable hours. I have been on two pro bono matters, one working with a human labor trafficking victim to sue her abusers and the other working with an incarcerated person to help ensure he gets fair parole hearings.”
  • “Pro bono is strongly encouraged; we have awards ceremonies each year for pro bono, and I think every associate and partner does some. …”
  • “Every associate is encouraged to take on pro bono projects. I am working on a research project reviewing patterns in jury selection by the Manhattan district attorney's office.”
  • “Over the last year, I think the firm's work on diversity and inclusion has accelerated significantly in a very positive way. The firm has hired staff to work on diversity and inclusion and has supported the creation of employee resource groups to provide community and resources for groups of individuals traditionally not well represented in law firms/law firm leadership. …”
  • “The firm is very focused on ensuring diversity in hiring and retaining and promotions at every level. Our diversity goals for the next five years have been made public. The global head of the firm is a woman, and there is a significant push to ensure every deal team is diverse.”
  • “The firm has publicly committed to having more diverse partners (all of which would be equity partners, since we do not have non-equity partners) over the next few years. There are committees for ever kind of diversity program out there, and many of the people with whom I work fall into one or more diverse categories.”

Hours & Compensation

  • “We have no formal billable hour requirement, and it is fantastic.  If I spend a few hours contributing to thought leadership, I don't have to worry about ‘making up’ those hours to get my bonus or anything, and I'm still learning at the same time.”
  • “We recently hired a new person dedicated to work allocation. She has made hours much more even across the board. …”
  • “Overall, I'm happy—I feel like we get substantive work and responsibility early on, and while the hours can be intense sometimes, they are generally balanced out by lean periods. The firm has a flexible remote working policy which is definitely a plus as well.”
  • “The firm is at market in terms of salary and bonuses. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the firm match Davis Polk (and other firms) at the top end of the special COVID bonus scale—it showed that Freshfields was serious about its commitment to be a major player in the U.S. market.”

Why Work Here


Who We Are

More than 2,800 lawyers who work in 150+ countries and speak over 70 languages. Freshfields combines the entrepreneurial and collaborative environment of a boutique firm with the top clients, scale, mandates, resources, benefits and training of one of the oldest and largest international firms in the world. 

With top-tier lawyers in the U.S. in M&A, corporate governance, securities and shareholder litigation, antitrust, white-collar defense and investigations, restructuring, technology and CFIUS, we offer clients the ability to work with the world’s first “jurisdictionally agnostic” firm, capable of delivering elite legal advice in every major practice area and in every corner of the worldWe help clients navigate their most complex business issues and capitalize on their most significant opportunities. This work involves executing complex cross-border transactions, dealing with the most challenging multijurisdictional litigations and global investigations, and handling arbitrations and regulatory issues involving multiple countries.

Diversity at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

"At all levels of Freshfields, we are absolutely committed to driving diversity and inclusion forward — from grassroots efforts run by employees, to our partners whose leadership in this area is essential The delivery of market leading advice depends on our ability to build and harness the creativity of diverse teams. To do this we must attract and retain the most talented lawyers from across the world by fostering an environment in which our people can flourish, inclusive of their gender, race or ethnicity, background,..."

Getting Hired Here


  • “Our firm seems to favor people with an international interest. The M&A and Finance teams have been growing a lot, so I expect that to be an area where they would be keen to hire in. The firm seems to particularly like having summers from Columbia and Harvard but hires from many schools, including some outside the T14.”
  • “The firm is looking for driven, clever individuals with an international interest or background, and I understand there is a strong push to hire diverse associates and partners. Grades, journal experience, and clerkships are also a plus.”
  • “The firm looks beyond just the law school a candidate attended. The firm and my practice group really value team players and personable, sociable members. Being smart and doing the work is only part of the job. We are in a service industry, and servicing clients is a key component of our jobs, and therefore, one's personality plays a big role in the hiring process.”
  • “Interviews tend to be informal and focus on really getting to understand the candidate as a person and hearing about their interest in the type of international work we do.”
  • “Why do you think you'd be a good fit?”
  • “[We ask] questions to gauge your passion for the law [and] for Freshfields, your interest areas, and personality.”
  • “Totally depends on the partner; some partners tend to ask tough questions related to an interest or experience that shows your quick critical thinking ability.”
  • “I had no problems integrating with the firm, and everyone was helpful and friendly when I came aboard. I had no issues with getting trained, and everyone was patient and accepting while I got up to speed.”
  • “Great. They do a great job introducing you to people, getting appropriate work lined up for you, etc. Laterals aren't left to flounder and figure things out on their own.”
  • “We have taken on a lot of laterals in the past year and I have been very impressed with the integration efforts. There are regular coffees, check ins, and presentation opportunities so you get to know partners you don't typically work with. There has also been an effort to have us participate in affinity groups and get to know members of the firm outside of our practice area.”

Practice Area Q&A’s


Andrea M. Basham

Counsel

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Perks & Benefits