2019 Vault Rankings
“Flexible working hours”
“Working across time zones can be tough”
“The technology can be frustrating”
For over 250 years, Freshfields has remained a constant at the top of the UK legal market. Known as one of the Magic Circle firms, Freshfields has developed a multifaceted practice encompassing antitrust, international corporate work, finance, dispute resolution, real estate, tax, and intellectual property. With 27 international offices, the firm has expanded its reach around the globe and has become a player in the United States with offices in New York and Washington, DC.
Established Name, Modern Growth
Founded in 1743, Freshfields just might be the oldest international law firm in the world. It’s first client was the Bank of England, which remains a firm client to this day. Other historic clients include two 19th century British Prime Ministers, —William Gladstone and Sir Robert Peel—as well as Nathan Meyer Rothschild, who was once the richest man in the world. For the bulk of its history, the firm remained relatively small, yet pedigreed. In 1801, the first Freshfield, James William Freshfield, joined the firm as a partner and brought along his family’s coat of arms, a part of which is still used in the firm’s logo. Successive generations of lawyers in the Freshfields family would work at the firm through the 1910s.
The firm’s modern evolution began with the deregulation of the London markets in the 1980s, placing an emphasis on corporate work, and the firm’s massive global expansion in the 1990s. In 2000, Freshfields merged with top German firms Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Löber and Deringer Tessin Herrmann & Sedemund, creating a pan-European behemoth. Freshfields was also one of the first western firms in Asia and now has a sizeable presence there. Despite the firm’s London roots, more than 70 percent of the firm’s 2,500+ attorneys work outside of the UK.
If You Can Make It There, You’ll Make It Anywhere
Freshfields jumped the pond in 1977 to seek its fortunes in the Big Apple. The New York office specializes in corporate, finance, tax, restructuring, capital markets, and litigation matters, offering services related to M&A (primarily of the cross-border variety), infrastructure and project finance, general banking transactions, white collar defense, international arbitration, civil litigation, and corporate tax. In 2014 the New York litigation team scored a headline-grabbing not guilty verdict on behalf of former UBS executive Raoul Weil, who had been charged with conspiracy to defraud the IRS.
Freshfields opened its second U.S. office when it expanded into the Beltway in 1998. The Washington, DC office houses a powerful U.S. antitrust practice that outstrips those of other firms with European roots. Its recent headline-grabbing matters include providing antitrust advice on the United/Continental merger that created the world’s largest airline and advising Anheuser-Busch InBev on its $108 billion acquisition of SABMiller, combining the largest and the second largest breweries in the world.
Freshfields has been active in Asia for more than 30 years and now offers the most extensive regional legal service network across Asia—with offices in Beijing, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo. Asia-based attorneys work on everything from corporate and securities work to finance to IP to antitrust for clients like Deutsche Bank, HP, CK Hutchison, Pepsi, Bank of China, and Warburg Pincus.
In Latin America, the firm has established relationships with a number of local law firms and has successfully handled arbitrations, investment disputes, and other transactions in the region. In Brazil Freshfields advised BG Group on its $80 billion takeover by Royal Dutch Shell, leaving Shell as the single largest foreign owner of Brazilian oil, and represented Brazilian tycoon Abilio Diniz on the favorable settlement of a dispute with French supermarket chain Casino concerning control of Pao de Acucar, Brazil’s largest retailer. And in Venezuela the firm won a $1.4 billion arbitration award against the Venezuelan government for Crystallex International Corporation stemming from its investments in one of the largest untapped gold mines in the world.
IN THE NEWS
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer reported increases in revenue, net income and profit per equity partner for the financial year ending April 30, 2018. In summary: revenue is up by 5% (£73m) to £1.403bn; net income is up by 12% (£71m) to £683m; and profit per equity partner has increased by 12% (£187k) to £1.734m. Some performance highlights for the 2017-18 financial year included enabling the digital transformation of the firm’s key clients; working with clients at the center of global corporate consolidation; diversifying and expanding private equity relationships; implementing a strategic and firm-wide focus on the firm’s U.S. business; recognizing the greater reach of regulators and giving clients access to its leading international expertise on complex regulatory work; adding respected patent litigators to its well-established global IP team in London to further strengthen the advice Freshfields offers to clients; building a truly global proposition in restructuring and insolvency, following strategic hires in the U.S.; delivering access to justice and to opportunity around the world through the firm’s award-winning pro bono and community activities, which have involved more than 50% of the firm’s people.
Freshfields advised Starbucks Corporation in connection with the formation of a global coffee alliance with Nestlé S.A. to accelerate and grow the global reach of Starbucks brands in consumer packaged goods (CPG) and foodservice. As part of the alliance agreement, Nestlé will obtain the rights to market, sell, and distribute Starbucks®, Seattle’s Best Coffee®, Teavana™, Starbucks VIA®, and Torrefazione Italia® packaged coffee and tea in global at-home and away-from-home channels. Nestlé will pay Starbucks $7.15 billion in closing consideration, and Starbucks will retain a significant economic stake as licensor and supplier of roast and ground and other products going forward. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to complete in the second half of 2018. This deal highlights the firm at its best: delivering fully integrated and international advice in a transaction that is consequential to its clients, in a way that is completely aligned with its mission to provide clients with the tools to cross borders with confidence.
Freshfields advised KLX Inc. on the sale of its Aerospace Solutions Group to The Boeing Company and the spin-off of its Energy Services Group (ESG) business to KLX shareholders. KLX is a leading distributor and value-added service provider of aerospace fasteners and consumables and a provider of services and products to the oil and gas exploration and production industry. The transaction is valued at approximately $4.25 billion. Completion of the transaction is subject to the divestment of KLX’s Energy Services Group in a spin-off to KLX’s shareholders. The sale is also subject to customary closing conditions, including shareholder and regulatory approval.
Freshfields successfully represented Crystallex International Corporation in an investment treaty claim against Venezuela arising out of the expropriation of one of the largest untapped gold mines in the world. In April 2016, the tribunal upheld Crystallex’s claims, and ordered Venezuela to pay $1.4 billion for the unlawful expropriation of Crystallex’s investments. This is one of the largest investment treaty awards in history and the largest under the ICSID (Additional Facility) Rules. Freshfields acts for Crystallex in U.S. federal court proceedings seeking confirmation of the award and defending against Venezuela’s efforts to have the award set aside. In March 2017, the DC District Court confirmed and recognized the award as fully enforceable in the United States and in June 2017 issued an order rejected all of Venezuela’s efforts that would enable Crystallex to attach Venezuelan assets in the United States. Most recently, in November 2017, Freshfields obtained a highly favorable settlement for Crystallex at a time when Venezuela was defaulting on its bonds.
Freshfields represented Volkswagen Group on the settlement reached with the U.S. government to resolve criminal and federal environmental and other civil claims against the company relating to the diesel matter. As part of the resolution, Volkswagen has agreed to pay penalties and fines totaling $4.3 billion and to a series of measures to further strengthen its compliance and control systems, including the appointment of an independent monitor for a period of three years. Freshfields advises Volkswagen in a number of jurisdictions, including on civil and regulatory issues, as well as in the coordination of criminal investigations related to the current issues reagrding emissions from Volkswagen diesel engines.
Freshfields advised Mizuho Bank Ltd., as administrative agent, and a syndicate of lenders comprised of multiple banks, including The Export-Import Bank of Korea and Mizuho Bank Ltd. (as lender), on the restructuring of the project financing for La Muralla IV, an offshore oil-drilling rig that is registered and flagged in Panama and located and operating in Mexican territorial waters. The loan parties are part of the Grupo R group of companies, and the counterparty to the La Muralla IV charter agreement is PEMEX Perforación y Servicios, an affiliate of the Mexican state-owned petroleum operator. This matter was impactful due to the number of lenders and jurisdictions involved, which highlights the firm’s ability to seamlessly work across jurisdictions.
601 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 277-4000
Senior Partner: Edward Braham
Regional Managing Partner, U.S.: Peter Lyons
Hiring Attorney: Jerome Ranawake (New York)
1st year: $190,000|
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $220,000
4th year: $255,000
5th year: $280,000
6th year: $305,000
7th year: $325,000
8th year: $340,000
Summer associate: $3,650/week
Summer Associate Offers:
20 out of 20 (2Ls) (2017)
New York, NY
Ho Chi Minh City
Antitrust, Competition, & Trade
Bankruptcy & Insolvency
International Arbitration, Litigation, White Collar
Employee Pensions & Benefits
Intellectual Property/Information Technology