Freshfields sends Manchester paralegals on mini-secondments to London, Dubai and Germany

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Magic circler extends trainee perk to northern rookies

Anglo-German giant Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has launched a series of informal mini-secondments for its Manchester paralegals as it bids to strengthen ties between the support centre and the rest of its offices.

The rookies, many of whom are young and mobile, have already been hitting the road, with several spending time in the Freshfields’ London mothership during June, where they assisted in the corporate team. Others have been temporarily stationed in Dubai working on a big middle East deal, while further individuals have been sent to Hamburg and Frankfurt.

Legal Cheek understands that the firm is looking into taking steps to formalise the programme as more Manchester paralegals prepare for autumn assignments.

Olivia Balson, head of Freshfields’ Manchester legal services centre, said:

The opportunity for our legal services assistants in Manchester to visit the firm’s international offices not only helps with integrating them into the fee-earner way of working but also provides a fantastic opportunity for career development.

While integration is doubtless a priority for the magic circle giant, the secondments could also be interpreted as a signal of tightening demand in the Manchester legal job market. The North West has a smaller pool of young legal talent than in London, and there has been talk about firms operating support centres in the region becoming increasingly focused on limiting employee attrition. Extending a perk usually reserved for trainees seems like a good way to do this. The obvious next step would be to offer training contracts, but Freshfields says it has no plans to do so at present. However, it does acknowledge that its Manchester paralegals could go on to train as solicitors after completing their paralegal apprenticeship scheme.

Another way of looking at the secondments is that they’re an implicit acknowledgement of the usefulness of sometimes having teams in the same physical place. This chimes to a certain extent with an internal email seen by Legal Cheek in which Freshfields’ London trainees complained about lack of PA support in the wake of the firm’s expansion in Manchester.

The news comes as Freshfields makes permanent its paralegal apprenticeship deal with the University of Law that has seen it take on two apprentices last year and two this year. The Manchester-based programme remains tiny relative to Freshfields’ London training contract scheme, which hires 80 graduates each year. However, a disappointing recent trainee retention rate of 66% has led some to fear that the firm could be set to rely on the Manchester support office more in future. Other sources, however, have suggested that there is no link and the retention rate was simply a blip related to a number of factors including Brexit uncertainty hitting the City.

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I don’t fancy living in London on a Manchester paralegal salary



Agreed. It’s already hard enough on a trainee salary.



Plus the people.



They’ll be provided with accommodation, travel and food expenses.. Its actually not a bad deal! 🙂



Erstwhile student: ‘OMG I just picked up a TC with Freshfields!’

Realist friend: ‘No way! That’s incredible – congratulations’.

Erstwhile student: ‘Yeah I start in the Manchester office in two years time, now just for the GDL and LPC to…’

Realist Friend: ‘Oh Manchester office? Does that still count as the magic circle…….?’



No it does not I am afraid.



Erstwhile student, crying: “bu, bu, but, I managed to bag this top TC because I told them I was young and mobile, and wanted to be a rookie at a top firm, trousering a wedge of cash and working on top deals at a corporate behemoth, just like Alex, Katie and Tom told me to say!”



‘Buh, buh, buh the prestige!’



Let me know when you find a bank or a building society willing to factor your firm’s prestige when calculating your mortgage capacity.

Because I’d fucking love to hear about it.


It does have a factor. Allow me to relate my tale.

I went to the bank the other day for a mortgage. I was asked repeatedly to leave by irate staff members.

“You’re too smelly sir”. “Please come back wearing real clothes, not just pieces of paper with clothes drawn on them, sir” they said. Eventually, after screaming loudly and bursting into tears I was allowed to see a mortgage advisor on condition I left immediately thereafter.

On seeing me, the advisor gave me a knowing look. “You’re another Irwin Mitchell employee, right?”. “Yes”, I mumbled, quietly.

“I’ve seen colleagues of yours in the past in here. Always look like they haven’t seen daylight in weeks, and malnourished too. Get out. Now. We do not accept repayments in mouldy digestives.”

I left with whatever dignity I had left.


This gimmick is getting old now. Just the same schtick of not owning clothes, not seeing daylight and gettimg paid in hilarious quantities of digestives

Jones Day Equity Partner

What are you on about? Legal Cheek comments are full of original, well thought out posts.

My trainees don’t own clothes either, by the way.


LC comments are still more thoughtful and original than the actual LC content, jog on.

Spunkz McGee

I cum here only fer dem commentz… Fuck yea


The running Irwin Mitchell joke is one of the more amusing ones.

But the arses with silly names and ‘hilarious’ personalities are truly shit and unfunny.

'Young and mobile' paralegal

I don’t want to go to Hamburg


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