About Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP (Freshfields) is a so-called 'magic circle' law firm headquartered in London. Created in 2000 from a merger between London's Freshfields and two European law firms, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is considered one of the oldest and most prestigious law firms globally.
Employing more than 2000 lawyers across 28 offices, Freshfields attracts an extremely high calibre of applicants, so competition is fierce and you should spend time ensuring that your application stands out for the right reasons. Freshfields usually receives more than 30 applications for each training contract place.
Freshfields is a client-led global business, aiming to add value to client success and the communities in which they operate, offering services enabling businesses to grow, strengthen and also provide defence. Areas of work broadly fall into three areas: transactional, regulatory, and risk.
The application process is the same for trainees and those applying for vacation placements and begins with an online application form and written statement, followed for successful candidates by completing an online test and then attending an assessment day.
It is recommended that candidates carefully consider the values and required competencies of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP before beginning to complete the application process, as well as thoroughly researching the firm and its clients.
The application form itself is straight forward, requiring candidates to detail academic qualifications and also any extenuating circumstances which might be relevant. The accompanying personal statement, which can be up to 850 words long, is the trickier part. This statement should address your interest in commercial law, Freshfields as a specific place to work, and why the firm should hire you.
While you don't need to demonstrate any particular legal or technical skills, you should prepare this statement carefully to sell the skills you do have that will make you a good lawyer (organisational, strategic, commitment and others) and, crucially, back up and demonstrate these traits by using examples from work, hobbies or study.
Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Test
Successful candidates are invited to carry out a Watson Glaser Critical Thinking test. The Watson Glaser test is used by law firms to assess the aptitude of candidates before carrying out interviews.
The test, which has around 40 questions, assesses five skills which are crucial to the work of a lawyer, which include:
- Critical thinking
- Ability to draw conclusions
- Assessing the strength (or weakness) of arguments
- Recognising assumptions
- Evaluating arguments
Answers are multiple choice and there is usually a time limit of around 30 minutes. The test is carried out online from the candidate's location.
Candidates will assess a variety of statements or scenarios and then choose responses from a list. You may be invited to select which is most or least likely, or true or false. Other questions will require you to select from a list of possible conclusions.
The key to success at the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Test as part of the Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP assessment process is to prepare and practice by carrying out practice questions and familiarising yourself with the process and format.
The Half-Day Assessment
Successful candidates are then invited to the half-day assessment, traditionally carried out at the London offices of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. However, at this current time, in-person assessments are on hold, but individual arrangements are being made.
The half-day assessment follows a three stage process, for which you should ensure you have prepared. Competition at this stage for places on the training contract and vacation schemes is still fierce.
It is recommended that you are proactive in your preparation including attending fairs, meeting current lawyers who work at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and understanding what work Freshfields carries out, for who, and what values and competencies are intrinsic to those working for the firm.
The first exercise is written. No legal knowledge is required here, it is your attention to detail and skill at conveying concepts using the written word that is key. You must demonstrate a meticulous approach to reviewing the information provided and ensure there are no mistakes in your draft. You will do all this in a short timeframe, so you should expect to be under pressure to deliver the work in the required time.
The first interview is a general one, which is roughly an hour long with two interviewers, usually a partner and an associate. They will both be familiar with your application (with your education redacted) and the interview will probe your reasoning for wishing to be a commercial lawyer and why you wish to work at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.
Again, preparation is key. You will need to know your strengths and weaknesses inside out and have reflected long and hard about how to respond to key questions. You will need to appear confident in yourself and your skills (whatever you might really feel) and sell your abilities, skills, values and experiences.
The analytical interview will be based round a discussion on a news article, from a source such as the Financial Times, or the Economist. While the interviewer will also have read the article they will have no other information about you. No specific technical knowledge is required, this is considering your business and commercial knowledge and strategy, where you can demonstrate commercial awareness and your ability to think quickly about a subject you have not researched specifically in advance. Clearly reading the Financial Times and the Economist is a good starting point for your preparation.