Fieldfisher keeps getting bigger. In its latest financial results turnover jumped 11% to a record £370 million, marking its tenth year of consecutive growth. Double-digit revenues were delivered across a spread of departments, from dispute resolution to real estate, and the theme of collective growth continued office-wide, with all of Fieldfisher’s UK offices recording strong increases in turnover– Manchester (13%), Birmingham (12%) and London (9%). Despite this growth, profit per equity partner (PEP) fell 11% to £930,000 after a meteoric 22% rise the previous year took it over the £1 million mark. This dip was in part due to the firm “investing significantly” in previously under-invested areas but, with Companies House filings revealing one top partner trousered a whopping £7 million, it’s also important to remember that this figure is just an average, and the ceiling goes much, much higher.
Whether you’re the firm’s top-earner or just finding your feet as a trainee, “juicy” work abounds at Fieldfisher. One minute you could be working alongside the makers of Grand Theft Auto on a tech dispute in IP, before being whisked off to help the disputes team in a multi-billion pound fraud claim the next. Big names such as Google, Crocs and EY form the basis of the firm’s clientele and, if that wasn’t exciting enough, the firm are currently defending Getty Images in one of the world’s first copyright disputes involving AI.
In recent years Fieldfisher has gobbled up other firms including Birmingham’s Hill Hofstetter and Chinese outfit JS Partners, while a five-partner hire from a Dutch firm saw the launch of an Amsterdam office. These were followed by a wave of office openings in locations including Barcelona, Bologna, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Luxembourg, Madrid and Shanghai. In the UK, meanwhile, the firm opened a support centre in Belfast in 2018 and launched in Dublin a year later. Most recently, Fieldfisher has expanded its European offering with a new office in Vienna, Austria, taking the firm to 26 offices across 11 countries — more than double the number it had a few years ago.
The good news for trainees and junior lawyers is that Fieldfisher remains a pretty balanced place, despite its growing megafirm status. Across the London, Manchester and Birmingham offices, rookies work on average less than ten hours a day, with one proudly reporting: “I’ve only had to cancel plans twice in two years; have only worked 3 weekend hours (and that was entirely avoidable); and the firm is generally really appreciative of the fact that people have lives outside of the office.” Another adds: “Only 7 hours/day billable target is very reasonable compared to other firms”.Busier times do still come occasionally. “Most of the time you can finish at a reasonable time (by 18:00/18:30), however, there are periods where you will be working 12+ hour days. The time you work till also varies massively between the different departments” says one spy. There’s decent flexibility about working from home with most trainees spending about 3 days in the office and free WFH equipment such as a chair, monitor and keyboard provided. NQs can expect to earn a recently improved £95,000 in London and £65,000 in the regions.
Training can be “a bit hit and miss” but generally includes “exposure to great work and fantastic clients”. One insider notes that the Regulatory and IP teams “organise regular training sessions on key areas”, whilst elsewhere “it’s much more learn on the job”. You’ll have to be a bit of a go-getter to make the most out of your TC though: “It really depends on you getting your head out there, being keen and enthusiastic, trying to get involved in different matters with different people”.
The work is pretty stimulating too. “You get to do some really meaty stuff on big cases — substantive drafting, attending court, being the client’s first port of call, juicy research, etc.” says one enthralled newbie. Though you will sometimes be doing the grunt tasks as a trainee, superiors are said to be “very appreciative when you do the more soul-draining work.”
The people at Fieldfisher are “absolutely excellent”, an area where the firm tends to shine. “They really care about you and want you to do well. I’ve been asked many times by various supervisors if there’s anything I want to chat about (whether work or otherwise), how the team can do better to enable me to do well and enjoy my time, and if there was anything in particular I’d like to work on. Fieldfisher is stellar on that point. Many firms claim to be open-door, friendly, etc. but here you really feel it”.
A healthy mix of secondments is also appreciated. Trips to international destinations such as Silicon Valley and short-haul European hubs including Berlin are up for grabs, while in terms of client secondments, destinations include the BBC, media giant Paramount and global data science company Dunnhumby.
Not that trainees are desperate to leave Fieldfisher’s offices. The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly London, located on the north bank of the Thames beside London Bridge. The terraces running around it have spectacular river views — and, unlike at some firms, they are used regularly thanks to a daily morning fitness class held on the ninth-floor balcony, alongside other social events. “Our 9th floor terrace is to die for — best view in the City and a lovely place to have lunch on a sunny day. We also have our Thirsty Thursday drinks out there, which is a great place to catch up over a few drinks and meet some new colleagues!” shares one insider. Although the firm recently announced it was sticking with its London digs until at least 2036, it’s unlikely the “great views of the shard of the HMS Belfast” will ever get old! The Manchester office isn’t half bad either as Fieldfisher used time over lockdown smartly, to renovate its Northern base.
The tech “is nothing to write home about”, but luckily the “IT team are pretty helpful” and are always on-hand to sort any problems. The firm also has a reputation for providing some of the best food-based perks that you are likely to encounter.
For Fieldfisher’s lawyers, the week was not a simple Monday to Friday affair but consisted of Muffin Mondays, Fruit Tuesdays, Choc Wednesdays, Thirsty Thursdays, Smoothie Fridays. Apparently, to the disappointment of many, this has been cut back to just Thirsty Thursdays, though trainees do enjoy the free bar on terrace! But without the 9th floor terrace for Thirsty Thursdays, insiders in the regions feel a little hard done by: “The London office seems to get the most perks whilst the regional offices are forgotten about!”. Free drinks aside, there’s also subsidised gym memberships available and the nice bonus of Fieldfisher days (extra days off).