HSF has thousands of lawyers across 25 global offices, but their only U.S. office is a relatively small one in New York City, with about 50 lawyers. The firm’s midtown-based office focuses on commercial litigation, international arbitration, and investigations, offering a fairly unique opportunity to do international and cross-border work. Associates at the firm report general satisfaction with work hours, the type of work they do, and the culture of the firm.

Firm Stats


Total No. Attorneys (2022)

2K - 2.5K


No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2022)



No. of Summer Associates (2022)

4 (3 2Ls)


Base Salary

1st year: $215,000


No. of U.S. Offices



No. of International Offices


Vault Verdict

HSF is widely known worldwide as an international disputes powerhouse, and our survey respondents tell us that the firm has plans to aggressively expand, both in its New York office and in the US market more broadly. During the interview process, the firm not only seeks top credentials; it also assesses a candidate’s ability to hit the ground running. Associates seem very happy with the culture of the firm—perhaps best exemplified by the firm’s in-house ping pong table—and the types of work they do. The firm offers formal training opportunities, but associates seem to appreciate that most of their training comes by way of mentorship as a natural side effect of small teams and ample partner interaction. Overall, they report satisfaction with their compensation and hours—while the h...

About the Firm

With thousands of lawyers across 25 global locations, Herbert Smith Freehills is a global legal force. The firm’s main practices include corporate; dispute resolution; finance, real estate, and projects; employment, pensions, and incentives; and competition, regulation, and trade, as well as its Alternative Legal Services division.

U.K. & Aussie Roots with a Growing Big Apple Presence

In 2012, U.K. law firm Herbert Smith combined with Australian firm Freehills, creating what is known today as Herbert Smith Freehills. In that same year, the firm opened its New York office. The firm continues to grow its presence in New York. Today, the firm’s midtown-based office has nearly 50 lawyers who mostly focus on commercial litigation, international arbitration, and investigations—much o...

Associate Reviews


  • “HSF is incredibly tight-knit and collegial. Everyone knows everyone, and it creates an environment of trust and respect that you won't find at most BigLaw firms.”
  • “There is a collegial firm culture. We had regular happy hours and firm-sponsored events prior to COVID-19—that has continued, but was necessarily limited with everyone remote working in 2020. The firm has undertaken a number of initiatives recently to address issues in law (particularly racial equity and mental health awareness).”
  • “Very collegial, pre-COVID people interacted and went to official and unofficial get togethers frequently, [there is a] ping pong table in the office that gets good use.”

Getting Hired Here

  • “I have not been with the firm long enough to assess the competitiveness of its hiring process relative to other firms. The firm's feeder school is NYU, but it has hired attorneys who attended a range of law schools. The firm targets top-14 schools, but its relative lack of notoriety in the U.S. market makes attracting students from those schools more challenging, because those students have their sights set on traditional white shoe firms. Most of the firm's attorneys attended top-14 schools, and almost all attended top-50; I went to a terrible law school but was top of my class, so I am the exception. The firm has training and guidelines for attorneys who interview candidates and I have participated in recruitment efforts. The firm looks for a good personality fit, which is important especially given the relatively small size of the firm.”
  • “We are looking for people who want to take ownership of their careers and individual projects from day one. Our hiring standards are quite stringent (and many of the summer associate candidates we gave offers to ended up choosing very selective firms like Davis Polk, Cleary, etc.), because we know that new hires will need to do substantive work as soon as they start.”
  • “The firm always looks for diverse candidates. Although the law school [and] transcripts are important, they are not decisive. Prior work experience is appreciated. There are no particular ‘feeder schools.’ The firm has guidelines for those interviewing candidates.”