What you need to know about… Freshfields

December 10, 2021

3 min read

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An intro to the firm

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was formed by the 2000 merger between UK-based Freshfields, Germany-based Deringer, Tessin, Herrmann, & Sedemund and Germany-and-Austria-based Bruckhaus, Westrick, Heller, Löber. 

The firm is amongst the oldest law firms in the world and is also one of the largest and most prestigious international law firms. With 28 offices that span across Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, Freshfields offers 80 training contracts each year with opportunities for international and client secondments. To characterise the firm in three words, Freshfields is global, elite and distinguished.

Its key strengths

Freshfields possesses a leading corporate practice, with both its public M&A and private equity departments consistently ranked Band 1 by Chambers UK. It is also ranked Band 1 across a range of practice areas, including antitrust, dispute resolution, international arbitration, tax and public international law.

Despite the global coronavirus crisis, Freshfields has continued to grow. For instance, global M&A dropped dramatically in 2020 however, in the first half of 2020, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised companies on $108bn worth of deals. These deals included advising in two of the year’s largest transactions: Aon in its $31.4bn acquisition of Willis Towers Watson and Thyssenkrupp AG’s $18.7bn sale of its elevator division to a consortium. 

Freshfields also holds a full-service disputes practice that ranges from international arbitration to commercial litigation and is an integral part of its business. In recent history, the firm has advised in high profile disputes including advising Deutsche Bank in its strongly contested four-month trial against Sebastian Holdings. Recognised as a market leader in competition litigation, financial disputes and global investigations, Freshfields’ strong expertise in disputes differentiates it from other Magic Circle firms. All its departments in this area are also ranked Band 1 by Chambers UK. 

 Its high profile clients include the Bank of England, which has been a client of the firm for almost 280 years and BP, one of the largest oil and natural gas producers in the US.

Training, training, training...

When it comes to training, Freshfields is known for its unique eight-seat training contract, which offers trainees lots of flexibility to choose seats that interest them. For example, a trainee interested in disputes resolution has the option of completing two seats across two of the firm’s different disputes practices. Where a trainee is undecided about what area to specialise in, this flexibility provides the opportunity to do as many seats as possible, allowing them to dip their toe in different areas and find somewhere an area that suits them. At Freshfields, seat options include dispute resolution, corporate, finance, and IP.  

Also, Freshfields’ worldwide service means trainees can apply for secondments in its global network of 28 offices (including Paris, Hong Kong, Dubai and New York). There are also opportunities to apply for a client secondment, including with the firm’s pro bono clients. Another popular international option is the Freshfields London-Asia training contract which provides trainees with the opportunity to complete their first year in London and their second year in Hong Kong. After which, trainees will qualify with one of their offices in Asia as an England-and-Wales-qualified solicitor.

The firm’s pro bono work includes a wide range of clients, from individual asylum seekers to large global charities. For example, Freshfields has worked with Save the Children, a humanitarian aid organization for children, since 2009.  Their work includes day-to-day institutional support from 222 of their offices worldwide and providing assistance in areas linked to the organisation’s humanitarian work. Other pro bono opportunities at Freshfields include working with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and the Tower Hamlets Law Centre, which the firm has supported for 45 years.

As a global law firm with experience in successfully supporting the world’s leading national and multinational corporations, financial institutions and governments, Freshfields offers the opportunity to contribute to headline deals across international jurisdictions.  The firm is a great option for anyone looking to work as part of a global team, work on front-page deals, and expand their learning experience through flexible training contract seats.

Report written by Goodness Asaolu

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