Advice

‘I’ve got an offer from Slaughter and May AND Freshfields – who should I choose?’

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143

It’s a nice problem to have

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, we’ve pulled out this question from our Freshfields retention rate thread by ‘SM and FF Offer Holder’.

“HELP – Currently deciding between Slaughters and Freshies

Pros for FF:
– Strong in Dispute Resolution, esp Arbitration
– Still band 1 in Corporate (same as SM)
– 3 months seats
– Better international opportunities

Cons for FF:
– Moving office to Liverpool Street halfway through my TC
– Low retention rate
– Current low morale amongst trainees

Remaining questions:
– Are the hours worse at FF or SM?
– Which firm is better placed to survive Brexit (FF is very strong in Europe, esp Brussels and Germany)?

Interested to hear what everybody has to say!”

If you have a career conundrum, email us with it to careers@legalcheek.com.

143 Comments

Joe Hebbron

I reckon you should just go and fuck yourself.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Lots of bizarrely sensible comments here.
I had an offer from Slaughters 7 years ago. I felt that they really care about motivation to work at Slaughter and May and they are not looking for people who will jump ship on qualification, I feel that the partners were thinking about the long term future of the firm. I also felt that that social life was relatively piss poor, that it was a bit weird and overhyped, and they were looking for a type of person more than other firms. I noticed that almost everyone and, the partners also basically confirmed this, was reasonable RG, first class degree, with 2:1 being the exception more than the rule except Oxbridge, and almost all straight out of uni. It was pointed out to me by many, many people, directly and indirectly, and through what I saw relative to other firms, that trainees carried fairly little responsibility and were treated like children. Definitely a very hierarchical also.
But very good retention rates and perhaps more prestigious than FBD, but in the real world it doesn’t matter.
FBD has a better training system imo with more seats and better international secondments.
I ended up going to a US firm, but where you choose to do is probably quite personal. I don’t think I would have fit in at Slaughters because I consider myself somewhat normal. I found most trainees and junior associates to be academically quite bright, but slightly odd, lacking in social skills, quite insecure and having a number of other personal issues. So despite retention I would go for FBD but you can’t go wrong with either. Don’t think yiu should base the decision on prospects at a US firm, too many unknowns.

(14)(1)

Anonymous

FBD has a horrible training system where you’re lead to believe that you can choose your seats as you go but in actual fact it’s completely randomised, particularly in your earlier seats. The international secondments are fun, but not if you haven’t been retained. A lot of trainees had to fly back for interviews after finding out they they have not been offered an NQ role internally.

(13)(3)

Anonymous

Interesting – what percentage of those not retained seem to get a job at least as well paid as FBD?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I’m not sure salary is the point – most choose Freshfields for the calibre of work, which is unmatched in many of its departments. Even if another pays just as well, if not more, the career capital is nowhere near that of a Freshfields junior. Most trainees choose Freshfields intending to commit their careers to the firm. Not being kept on is very disappointing, even if it opens doors elsewhere.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

So none choose to jump to say Kirkland/Lathams for more money?

Anonymous

I find this strange. Given that fewer than 10% of trainees will go on to make partner, most will leave at some point anyway?

Anonymous

I think you overestimate the allure of money for trainees who chose Freshfields to become a part of the profession.

(3)(0)

It's not about the money money money

Very true. Turned down one of the very best paying US firms for a MC firm.

(5)(3)

Freshfields trainee (unemployed)

Kirkland for Slaughters?

(0)(1)

I actually have a question I'd like to ask Legal Cheek about - Please notice this!

Investment banking or law?

(5)(2)

Anonymous

If you’re after money, then investment banking

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Investment banking: more money, better exit options, more portable, more commercial, fewer documents to churn.

Law: more prestige, broader range of specialisms (e.g. arbitration, competition, IP, not just M&A), high quality training, more stable.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

I just want M&A – cause I want to close deals

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Then investment banking / private equity for sure: junior bankers instruct partners at law firms. No brainer there.

Anonymous

Partner’s gonna be my bitch

Anonymous

Real ballers become consultants.

Anonymous

If you’re CEO then everyone’s your bitch.

Anonymous

Shareholders are the real masters

Anonymous

Money money money, must be funny, in a rich man’s world

(0)(2)

Anonymous

Would you agree that S&M’s multi specialist approach makes them better equipped to deal with any economic fallout from Brexit e.g. corporate lawyers aren’t limited to M&A so wouldn’t necessarily be got rid of if M&A slows right down?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

I enjoy watching the bunfights on here over the comparable “prestige” of law firms.

Laughable. Many city firms are a brilliant place to start. Most have decent training and exposure to high level deals. They all pay fantastically high salaries compared to most careers. A marginally more “prestigious” firm on a CV won’t make up for other qualities, like selling yourself at interview.

Most non-lawyers I know haven’t even heard of any of these firms. Just get a grip and take a look at yourselves!

(16)(0)

Anonymous

What’s Goodwin?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Preach brah.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Let’s settle this once and for all: Slaughter and May is the most prestigious law firm in London.

(13)(9)

Anonymous

But who cares? Some people might be better suited to, or prefer, other magic circle firms, silver circle firms, US firms or indeed more minor firms. No point being unhappy for the prestige.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Completely agree. Magic Circle firms rest on their laurels and generally expect trainees to just suck it up and be grateful for the opportunity to train at a prestigious firm on prestigious work for prestigious clients. You individual development is neglected and you don’t really have a voice, even if you have reasonable suggestions – I’ve been told by some supervisors that trainees know nothing. I think if you find a law firm that has a different attitude and treats you as a young professional, you would do much better as a lawyer in training than at a firm that relies heavily on its prestigious brand.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Okay so overall vote: thumbs up on this comment for Slaughters / thumbs down for Freshfields.

(45)(10)

Anonymous

This is like a legal battle of the Titans and I love it – EVERYONE VOTE

(0)(0)

Freshfields trainee (unemployed)

Go Freshfields!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Freshfields, the dumping ground for Slaughters’ rejects.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Slaughters shits on Freshfields.

(6)(3)

Anonymous

Just as I shit on your mom

(1)(1)

Clifford Chance

we need a pool cleaner

(2)(0)

Ex-KWM trainee now at Goodwin

Goodwin shits on you all.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Says the Ex-KWM child

CC trainee with an offer to qualify on 1 September 2017

there’s a turd in the pool. guys, there’s a turd in the pool!

Sally Davies

Congratulations. I say work at both firms and see where you go from there.

(1)(1)

Worried about FF

Quick questions — recent FF trainees, how much choice did you have in selecting your many seats? Were you told what to take?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The seat lottery gets more and more likely to produce an allocation of your preference the closer you get to qualification. Choosing as you go causes complete chaos and chronic disappointment because it’s not possible to accommodate the preferences of 160 trainees. Some get lucky, others disappointed. If you have a specific career in mind, e.g. corporate, much better to choose Slaughters as you are more likely to get what you want without too much angst.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I wanna do arbitration in Paris, competition, corporate and DR in London. Will these be likely to be oversubscribed?

(1)(0)

Freshfields trainee (unemployed)

I was lucky to have seen arbitration, competition, IP DR, financial disputes, corporate, PE and FS Reg in my training contract and thank the extraordinary TD team at Freshfields for doing their best at an almost impossible job.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

How likely is it I can get the combination above in my original comment?

(0)(0)

Freshfields trainee (unemployed)

Reasonably likely: first seaters normally get DR, second or third seaters corporate, if you get good appraisals you can see competition and arbitration in your later seats, and if you ace all your seats you can do a secondment in Paris for arbitration.

(1)(0)

JD partner

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Still not deleted

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Sad deleted – didn’t even say anything scandalous

(0)(0)

JD partner

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

JD partner

stop deleting my comments

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Pros for FF:
– Good looking people
– Some of them are smart
– Office in an historic part of London

Cons for FF:
– Gimp desks
– TD/HR
– Expensive dentist

(2)(0)

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(1)(0)

Anonymous

Elite US shops trounce the MC.

MC prestige is strong in London but not many people seem to realise they are child’s play compared to top US firms. They also treat trainees like fresher children which is cute.

Higher quality training/more sociable hours/friendlier culture at all MC firms over US shops is a broken record. Stop lying to yourselves and grow up.

Look at global PEP rankings and only Slaughters can hold half a candle.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Elite US shops lack the cross-border capabilities of the MC, which is historically more international than US shops. Agreed on overstatement of training/hours/culture – all you’re really getting is the prestigious MC brand on your CV.

(0)(1)

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