The Legal Cheek View
If you want top perks, look no further than Freshfields Brukhaus Deringer: there's freshly made sushi every Tuesday and Thursday evening (by an expert chef, naturally), an in-house gym (free, of course), a winter ski trip (generously subsidised, you'll be unsurprised to learn) and theatre tickets (half price, darling). The only hitch for those lucky enough to secure a training contract with the magic circle giant is that they sometimes struggle to find the time to celebrate the above delights -- because Freshfields is uber work hard-play hard territory (with an emphasis on the former).
Hours can be long and grinding, with late evening (or beyond) departures from the office common place. Note how Freshfields only provides free cabs after 9:30pm, rather than the standard 9pm offered by many firms. It's "not unexpectedly bad" one trainee tells us, "but not sure how sustainable it is". Still, you don't get to be the most profitable firm in the magic circle (with the exception, possibly, of Slaughter and May, which doesn't make public its financial results) by clocking off early. Freshfields' profit per equity partner was up 8% this year to a staggering £1.47 million.
Much of this wedge comes from the firm's vast overseas network (it has 28 offices in 16 countries) – to which Freshies' youngsters have a pretty decent chance of being seconded. Over 40% have spent time abroad with the firm in locations such as Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and Berlin.
Freshfields is also reportedly doing well with its new Manchester low cost support centre, which is expected to grow to 800-staff over the next two years. In theory this means less repetitive work for trainees, however in practice this isn't always the case. One London insider reports:
"[A]dmin tasks are largely the process stuff that should be outsourced but inevitably the paralegals/PAs/legal assistants get things wrong and means you end up taking double the time to get the job done – better to have just done it in the first place!"
With Freshfields' trainees on close to £50k, and newly qualified solicitors on £85,000, that's some expensive admin. But in fairness to the firm, it scores pretty well for training and we understand that a fair chunk of its junior lawyer work is of the intellectually challenging variety. And did we mention the free sushi?