London, United Kingdom
|No. of offices||28|
|No. of lawyers|
|No. of employees||4,959|
|Major practice areas|
|Revenue||£1.472 billion (2018/19)|
|Profit per equity partner||£1.839 million (2018/19)|
|Date founded||2000 (by merger)|
|Founder||Samuel Dodd and James William Freshfield|
|Company type||Limited liability partnership|
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP (informally Freshfields, or FBD) is an international law firm headquartered in London, and a member of the Magic Circle. The firm has 28 offices in 17 jurisdictions across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. It advises national and multinational corporations, financial institutions and governments.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was created in 2000 when U.K.-based Freshfields merged with the two law firms, Germany-based Deringer Tessin Herrmann & Sedemund and Germany-and-Austria-based Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Löber.
Dubbed as the oldest firm within the Magic Circle, Freshfields' origins arguably go back to around 1716, when Thomas Woodford began to practise law. Woodford was succeeded in his practice in 1730 by William Wall, who was succeeded in turn in 1743 by Samuel Dodd. That same year, Dodd was appointed attorney to the Bank of England. In 1788, Winter and Kaye began advising Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the water frame. When James William Freshfield joined in 1800, Dodd had died and the Freshfields family became the dominant force in the law firm. Dodd's appointment is treated by Freshfields as the firm's foundation date.
The firm changed its name on numerous occasions as different partners joined or left. In 1800, James William Freshfield (1775–1864) was the first member of the Freshfield family to become a partner, and the firm became known as Winter, Kaye, Beckwith & Freshfield. Following further name changes, it became Freshfield & Son in 1825, and eventually Freshfields 1868–76, Freshfields & Williams 1876–98, Freshfields 1899–1918, Freshfields & Leese 1918–1921, Freshfields, Leese & Munns 1921–1945, and Freshfields 1946–2000. The last member of the Freshfield family to be a partner, another James William Freshfield, retired in 1927.
Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Löber traces its origins back to Hamburg in 1840. At the time of its 2000 merger with Freshfields, the firm was one of the two largest law firms in Germany. Deringer Tessin Herrmann & Sedemund was founded in 1962 by Arved Deringer and Claus Tessin and was based in Cologne from 1970 to 2000.
In September 2020, Freshfields announced Georgia Dawson as its new senior partner after time leading the firm’s Asia operations. In October 2022, the firm announced the appointment of Jake Reynolds as its head of Client Sustainability and Environment to support energy transition, human rights, corporate governance, climate change and sustainable finance.
The first James William Freshfield (1775–1864) adopted the crest of John Freshfield of Norwich as his own, having seen it as a boy. It was later used as the firm's mark. The emblem represents St Michael, depicted as an angel with a spear.
Since 2017, German prosecutors have twice raided Freshfields’ Frankfurt offices to investigate the phantom-trading fraud, known as cum ex fraud, which the German government estimates cost its treasury more than 5 billion euros. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer gave tax advice, which was used to justify its legality. In November 2019, the firm's former head of international tax, Ulf Johannemann, was arrested and charged with tax fraud. Then in June 2020, a second former partner was charged with aiding and abetting tax evasion in the scandal.
In 2020, the firm was also discovered to have had historic ties to the Atlantic slave trade. In particular, the firm's name founder, James William Freshfield, financially benefited from slavery by acting as a trustee and owner-in-fee for several slave-owners.
Notable Freshfields attorneys
- "Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP - True Picture". Chambers Student.
- "Freshfields senior partner pushes for the abolishment of billable hours". www.thelawyermag.com. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- Moloney, Rachel (5 July 2018). "Freshfields returns to form as PEP reaches record levels". The Lawyer. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- "The dawn of the superstar lawyer". Financial Times. 2018-04-09. Archived from the original on 2022-12-11. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "'Magic Circle' Firms Tell London Lawyers to Stay Home Amid Virus". news.bloomberglaw.com. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "London's 'magic circle' law firms make renewed bid to crack US". Financial Times. 2022-08-09. Archived from the original on 2022-12-11. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "Cognizant selected by Freshfields to drive global expansion". www.consultancy.uk. 2022-10-05. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "Paper trail loosens shackles on hidden past". www.ft.com. Archived from the original on 2022-12-11. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – What The Lawyer Says". The Lawyer | Legal insight, benchmarking data and jobs. 2018-05-22. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "Rare Foundations | Law". www.rarerecruitment.co.uk. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- Slinn 1984, p. 177.
- Slinn, Judy (1993). Freshfields, 1743–1993, London: Freshfields
- Fitton, R. S.; Fitton, Robert S. (1989). The Arkwrights: Spinners of Fortune. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-2646-1.
- "Freshfields: Wie Europas einflussreichste Kanzlei ins Zwielicht geriet". www.handelsblatt.com (in German). Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "Our History: Old hands at hands at new ideas". Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
- Report of Simon Le Blanc on 1 collective petition (110 people, from Hereford,...
- Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons. Ordered to be printed. 1846.
- "The Selkirk Treaty and Map | Spotlight | HBCA | Archives of Manitoba". www.gov.mb.ca. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- Slinn 2007.
- Slinn 1984, pp. 177–178.
- Ames, Jonathan. "Freshfields partners magic-up £1.8m in pay". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- Spence, Alex. "All change at Freshfields as firm fights for new clients". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "Arved Deringer". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "Freshfields Germany partner trio leave with team of associates to found public law spin-off". www.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "Freshfields becomes first magic circle firm to raise NQ pay to £100,000 | Lawyer 2B". May 7, 2019.
- "Freshfields outstrips Magic Circle rivals with record partner payouts of more than £2m". CityAM. 2022-07-27. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- Hussain, Aishah (2022-04-01). "Freshfields sets down marker for magic circle rivals as it boosts NQ lawyer pay to £125k - Legal Cheek". Legal Cheek - Legal news, insider insight and careers advice. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- Ames, Jonathan. "Georgia Dawson lands top brief at Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "Freshfields Taps First Woman Leader, Still Rare in Big Law". news.bloomberglaw.com. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "Freshfields hires leading environmental consultant to head client sustainability offering". www.globallegalpost.com. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- Lever, Emily (October 11, 2022). "Freshfields Names Leader For Enviro Sustainability Advice". www.law360.com. Retrieved 2022-10-26.
- "Freshfields Faces SRA Questions on UBS Rape Case Review". Law.com International.
- "Former Freshfields lawyer arrested over German tax scam: sources". Reuters. 28 November 2019. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
- Storbeck, Olaf (9 January 2020). "Former head of tax at Freshfields charged over illegal rebate scandal". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 2022-12-11.
- "Freshfields 'Cum-Ex' Scandal Partner Arrested". Law.com International.
- "Former Freshfields Tax Partner Charged in Cum-Ex Scandal". Law.com International.
- "Law Firms' Past Links To Slavery and Imperialism Unearthed". Law.com International.
- Slinn, Judy (1984). A History of Freshfields. London: Freshfields. OCLC 59021160.
- Slinn, Judy (2007) . "Freshfield family". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/49721. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)