Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

The Legal Cheek View

Each year one magic circle firm does slightly less well than the others and becomes the focus of the legal press. This year it’s the turn of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to come bottom of the magic circle financial growth league table, having only managed to increase profit per equity partner (PEP) by 5% and raise revenue by 0.3%. The disappointing financial results were compounded by an uncharacteristically low 66% autumn 2017 trainee retention rate.

But before you write off the oldest of London’s elite law firms – Freshfields was founded way back in 1743, and more or less since then has been legal advisor to the Bank of England – remember that its turnover remains a massive £1.33 billion and it’s PEP a whopping £1.547 million. Such fundamentally sound businesses tend to bounce back strongly and quickly.

It’s probably most accurate to characterise Freshfields as being in a period of transition, with the firm sending ever more work to its Manchester support office while, like the other magic circle firms, it ploughs money into new artificial intelligence-derived technology as it bids to boost efficiency. Such an approach requires substantial investment (which may account for that disappointing revenue figure) and is potentially disruptive of employee morale.

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Key Info

Training contracts 80
Latest trainee retention rate 66%
Offices 27
Countries 16
Minimum A-level requirement No Minimum
Minimum degree requirement No Minimum

Insider Scorecard

Quality of work
Peer support
Partner approach-ability
Work/life balance
Social life
Chances of secondment abroad

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.


Average arrival time 9:19am
Average leave time 8:56pm
Annual target hours No targets
Annual leave 25 days


First year trainee salary £43,000
Second year trainee salary £48,000
Newly qualified salary £85,000
Profit per equity partner £1,547,000
GDL grant £7,250
LPC grant £7,000


UK female associates 49%
UK female partners 17%
UK BME associates Undisclosed
UK BME partners Undisclosed

The Firm In Its Own Words