|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
|No. of offices||26 (2020)|
|No. of lawyers||2,100 (2017)|
|No. of employees||4,700 (2017)|
|Key people||Justin D'Agostino (CEO); Rebecca Maslen-Stannage (Senior Partner)|
|Revenue||£1.04 billion (2020/21)|
|Profit per equity partner||£1.1 million (2020/21)|
|Date founded||2012 (by merger)|
|Company type||Limited liability partnership (Herbert Smith Freehills LLP)|
Partnership (Herbert Smith Freehills)
Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) is an international law firm with headquarters in London, United Kingdom and Sydney, Australia. HSF has been widely acknowledged as one of the world's most elite and selective law firms, and, as of 2021, was the 33rd largest by revenue. It was formed on 1 October 2012 by a merger between the United Kingdom-based Herbert Smith, then a member of the "Silver Circle" of leading UK law firms, and Freehills, one of the "Big Six" Australian law firms.
Herbert Smith Freehills regards itself as one of the world's most prestigious law firms, and has achieved particular recognition in dispute resolution. As of 2015, HSF retains the most FTSE 100 clients of all law firms, representing 39 of the 100 companies. It advises the highest number of FTSE 100 clients in United Kingdom Court of Appeal cases.
Prior to merger
Herbert Smith was established by Norman Herbert Smith in 1882. Its specialisation in the early 20th century was in company flotations and advice to mining companies. Later its work expanded to litigation, mergers, and equity matters. In 2011, revenues were £465 million and profits-per-equity-partner (PEP) were £900,000.
The firm traced its history back to the practices of Clarke & Moule in Melbourne (1853), Stephen Henry Parker in Perth (1868), Bernard Austin Freehill in Sydney (1871), and John Nicholson (Perth) 1896. Predecessors of the firm are notable for having adopted "open" employment policies, hiring Catholics and Jews when many other firms would not. They are also notable for becoming the first major Australian law firm to appoint a female partner, and forming the first national law partnership in Australia.
At the time of its merger with Herbert Smith, Freehills had 190 partners and 800 lawyers. It had four offices in Australia's capital cities, and an office in Singapore. It had associations with various firms across Asia, many of which continue to this day.
Herbert Smith Freehills was born after completing merger in October 2012. The merger involved an immediate financial integration of the firms in a single partnership and profit pool, an unusual structure for these kinds of mergers. The merger was complicated by differing remuneration structures across the firms; with Herbert Smith practicing a lockstep compensation system, while Freehills practised a merit-based compensation system. Freehills also had a greater number of equity partners.
After merging, the firm began practice in Germany. In September 2012 it opened an office in New York City, focused on international dispute resolution work. A South Korean office was opened at Seoul in April 2013. The combined firm also nearly doubled its total number of international secondees in its first year of operations. In November 2015, Herbert Smith Freehills announced the opening of its third office in Germany, Düsseldorf, headed by Clifford Chance's former head of litigation and arbitration practice.
As of September 2020, HSF has 26 offices in Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and the Middle East. The Seoul and Tokyo offices are staffed by Commonwealth lawyers and do not practice local law. The Tokyo office relies upon a referral arrangement with Japan's 'Big Four' law firms to avoid competing with them for local legal work, and due to difficulties with hiring Japanese attorneys.
HSF has assisted numerous notable clients over its years as a firm, some famous, some infamous. Some examples include:
Herbert Smith Freehills helped Sergey Podoprigorov, a judge in the Russian Federation who sentenced Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent journalist, author, filmmaker, human rights activist and political prisoner that received an extremely harsh prison sentence in Russia in 2023 after publicly criticizing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. HSF prepared an appeal asking the U.S. Treasury Department to remove Podoprigorov from the “Magnitsky list” of corrupt Russian officials responsible for persecution of people fighting against corruption and repression in the country. 
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