Freshfields partner who joined the firm in 1984 reveals he’s quitting to pursue pupillage dream

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Competition litigation expert Jon Lawrence is Brick Court bound

One of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s most experienced lawyers has revealed he’s leaving the magic circle outfit to pursue a career at the bar.

Jon Lawrence (pictured), who joined Freshfields way back in 1984 and currently heads up its competition litigation team, confirmed he will join Brick Court Chambers next autumn. However, like any budding barrister, Lawrence will have to complete pupillage at the London set before he can become a fully-fledged tenant.

How does baby barrister pay stack up against City lawyer salaries? Legal Cheek’s Chambers Most List shows Brick Court Chambers’ pupillage comes with an award of £65,000, one of the highest in the country. Meanwhile, 2016-17 financials released by Freshfields earlier this month show the average partner pockets a whopping £1.5 million.

But don’t feel too sorry for Lawrence. Once qualified, the Cambridge-educated lawyer will likely see his earnings rocket, thanks in part to his 30 plus years experience at one of the world’s leading law firms.

Speaking to Legal Business, the soon-to-be barrister revealed the move was about taking on “a new challenge”. Continuing, he said:

I’ve always wanted to do some advocacy. Brick Court is a tremendous set of chambers and if I am able to take up the tenancy in autumn 2018 they will give me the opportunity to do so whilst not letting down my existing clients.

Lawrence isn’t the first Freshfields lawyer to be lured to the bar. Last year litigation partner Raj Parker joined Matrix Chambers as an associate member, while former managing partner Ian Terry joined One Essex Court as a mediator.

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“like any budding barrister, Lawrence will have to complete pupillage”

Not true – with sufficient experience, solicitors (among others) can be exempt from the requirement of pupillage. Lawrence would be voluntarily undertaking pupillage – he does not *have* to, nor does every single ‘budding barrister’.



In practice, do solicitors wishing to be exempt from pupillage need to be experienced solicitor advocates (whether or not with higher rights of audience)?




I believe that it’s a case-by-case decision, so higher rights would certainly encourage the BSB to dispense with the requirement, but it’s not necessarily a prerequisite (to my knowledge).



I bet he won’t be treated as subhuman scum unworthy of sleep like many of us were as pupils.



What’s that on your shoulder? Oh yes, a chip.



No, I survived pupillage, got a tenancy and am now in practice.

Just my view on how pupillage was..



To be fair, he probably experienced that as a trainee, can’t begrudge for not having to put up with it twice in a lifetime.



Stop making every article about money you absolute cretin.


Does not know Katie King

From what I understand, Legal Business going on about pupillage yesterday may have been a mistake. He might be going in straight as a tenant. After 30+ years as a sol I’d be surprised if they make him mop up QCs’ piss.



This is pretty standard in Scotland. Advocates are required to have trained as solicitors (possibly not the full traineeship, but could be mistaken) before training for the bar and so its common to see devil advocates around the same age as this partner.


🇬🇧Hamish McHaggis 🇬🇧

“Och aye wee jobbie McSporran, hoots!”


Lawyer Sazz

This makes no sense. If he wanted to do advocacy, he should have moved to Herbert Smith Freehills. A number of their solicitors have become QCs, and with his experience at Freshfields, I doubt they will turn him down. This does not seem as a smart career move. To each their own, I guess.



Not true. Herbies in-house advocacy unit has been a marked failure because of conflicts. Once you are a partner in a law firm you are repeatedly conflicted out by the firm’s conflicts – unlike a barrister in chambers. That’s why Herbies still use tons of external counsel.

Realistically, he has been a partner for 20 plus years, and is a very well regarded and respected litigator and would have had to retire from Freshies soon. Leaving to work at what may be the best set in the country is a very good move.


LL and P

Spot on. Why not jump before you are pushed out of the equity, and it gives him the chance to build another 15 year career at the Bar before he has to slow down. Pretty smart move on his part to be honest. Also takes him out of the politics of partnership and now he is essentially a sole trader. More flexibility to take that trip to Harvard for a semester or hop over to Qatar to take some lucrative arbitration. He could match his salary at Freshfields with 10 months work.



A wig will be an improvement.



Having worked for him, I know that Jon will throw himself into this challenge and he well relish the wot.



Ahh must be why I didn’t get Pupillage.



Isn’t this a good example of why it’s better to get significant experience (I.e law firm, another job, PhD etc) before going for pupillage? This partner clearly has significantly more to offer and Brick Court would have looked at him joining as an alliance, as opposed to someone needing a job.



I’m in my final year of my law degree and doing mini pupillages and other bar related work experience right now. Seems like at the top commercial sets, barristers come straight from uni or masters, it’s much more like the training contract route, where fresh graduates are moulded to be like there masters. Similar story in mix common law sets, usually. But in the more public law/human rights sphere, it seems as though the pupil barristers (generally speaking) have gone out and gained some experience in other sectors before deciding to come to the bar. This is anecdotal from what I’ve seen, but I feel like it’s a recurrent theme.



Horrendously blinkered to think that a) only a hugely experienced solicitor could add value, b) that another non solicitor candidate could not be as good or better or c) the Bar would be sustainable if only solicitor partners joined at the junior end.

This man is a special case and will probably take silk in under 10 years.


Ivor le Engine

As a junior at the Commercial Bar, he won’t be doing any advocacy anyway. Not sure how Brick junior ‘cut their teeth’, but I doubt they appear in a long list at Bazzildon Mags on a wet Wednesday.


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