Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (December 2020)
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 is one of the largest and most prestigious international law firms in the world, headquartered in London. Tracing its roots back to the 18th century, it is also among the world's oldest.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is considered the oldest international law firm in the world, and a member of the Magic Circle of leading London-headquartered law firms. The firm 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.
The firm has 27 offices in 17 jurisdictions across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. It advises national and multinational corporations, financial institutions and governments. In 2019, the firm became the first non-US law firm to raise the salaries of newly qualified junior lawyers in the United Kingdom to £100,000. The firm announced Georgia Dawson as its new Senior Partner in 2020.
Freshfields' origins arguably go back to c.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. In that same year, Dodd was appointed attorney to the Bank of England. Freshfields (in the firm's various incarnations) have been the bank's legal advisers ever since. 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 1801 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 to Hamburg in 1840. At the time of its 2000 merger with Freshfields it 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.
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 subsequently used as the firm's emblem. It represents St Michael, depicted as an angel with a spear.
The firm has in recent years been involved in several controversies. In 2019, before he resigned from the firm, partner Ryan Beckwith was accused of having engaged in sexual activity with a junior lawyer at the firm, and was subsequently reprimanded and fined £35,000 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. There have since emerged other similar cases involving partners at the firm. However, this judgment was overturned, and Beckwith consequently exonerated, by the High Court in 2020. The firm has since deployed a 'conduct committee' whereby the firm can fine its own partners for untoward behaviour.
In the same year, the firm also faced questioning by the Solicitors Regulation Authority over its review into how UBS dealt with a rape complaint.
Since 2017, German prosecutors have twice raided Freshfields’ Frankfurt offices to investigate the phantom-trading fraud, known as cum ex fraud, which Germany estimates cost it 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.
- Moloney, Rachel (5 July 2018). "Freshfields returns to form as PEP reaches record levels". The Lawyer. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- "Our History: Old hands at hands at new ideas". Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
- "Our history | Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer". www.freshfields.com.
- "Freshfields Brockhaus Deringer". Legal Week. 14 December 2009.
- "Freshfields: Kings of Europe". The Lawyer. 29 March 2004.
- "Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP: Firm Profile". Chambers and partners. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
- "Freshfields becomes first magic circle firm to raise NQ pay to £100,000 | Lawyer 2B". May 7, 2019.
- Slinn 1984, p. 177.
- Slinn, Judy (1993). Freshfields, 1743–1993, London: Freshfields
- Slinn 2007.
- Slinn 1984, pp. 177–178.
- "Sights set on the big three". The Lawyer. 28 February 2000. Archived from the original on 16 February 2018.
- "In Detail: The Allegations Against Freshfields Partner Ryan Beckwith". Law.com International.
- "Ryan Beckwith Avoids Ban in Disciplinary Tribunal Hearing". Law.com International.
- "Another Freshfields Partner Exits Firm Following Internal #MeToo Investigation". Law.com International.
- Slingo2020-11-27T11:08:00+00:00, Jemma. "Beckwith misconduct verdict overturned on appeal". Law Gazette.
- "Freshfields to Establish 'Conduct Committee', Partners Could Face 20% Pay Penalty for Bad Behaviour". Law.com International.
- "Freshfields Faces SRA Questions on UBS Rape Case Review". Law.com International.
- "Former Freshfields lawyer arrested over German tax scam: sources". Reuters. 2019-11-28. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
- Storbeck, Olaf (9 January 2020). "Former head of tax at Freshfields charged over illegal rebate scandal". Financial Times.
- "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.)