Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, a multinational law firm with its headquarters based in central London, is a member of the Magic Circle of elite British law firms. And last week, I had the pleasure of spending the day learning there.
Freshfields has 28 offices, 400+ partners, and 1,600+ associates. The firm specialises in a variety of practice areas such as Banking & Finance, Capital Markets, and Corporate – to name a few.As the oldest reported firm within the Magic Circle, and perhaps one of the oldest international law firms in the world, Freshfields has certainly had a long time to build a long-lasting reputation – dating back as early as the 18th century. 275 years and counting.
The ‘Magic Circle’ is an informal name used to describe the five law firms with UK headquarters that are accepted as the nation’s market leaders. Others firms that make up this group are Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, and Slaughter and May. Freshfields has received numerous prestigious awards.An example of an award received, is ‘Global Law Firm of the Year 2013,2014’, an exceptionally reputable accomplishment.
The opportunity to visit Freshfields came from my university and this opportunity came from the initiative of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, OBE, to work together to broaden the accessibility to careers in large commercial law firms and other careers in the City of London. To my surprise, I was the only student from my entire year group who had put themselves forward.
It would be tactless of me if I were not to explain why the scholarship was not created in the first place. Baroness Lawerence sadly lost her son following a racist murder at a London bus stop. He was 18 years old and his name is Stephen Lawerence. Baroness Lawerence has campaigned for justice for her son for over 20 years. A campaign which continues to influence the criminal justice system even to this day.
I was humbled when I was told that Freshfields would be paying for my train ticket to London. Though I had been to London numerous times, as it is where I was raised, this experience of visiting a firm was new to me and I was very excited to see what was in store from the ‘Insight Day.’ I arrived. Suited up with a backpack, with no more than my pencil case and my journal as well all the adrenaline rushing through my body. I was nervous. But the excitement and motivation I had kept me going.
Everyone who came was welcomed as though prestigious guests and were guided to the main lecture theatre. There we would hear stories of extraordinary mergers worth £78.4 billion and rises to success. However, the part which really stood out for me was when it came to the description of the firm’s value key value. Relationships.
Freshfields recognises that creating strong and long-lasting relationships with clients, built on trust, values, and culture was key to success.
I learned that complacency would be my downfall if I was not active in looking more opportunities. If I was not active in constantly looking to broaden my network with genuine and hard-working individuals. I learned it was important to visualise my career in a constant flow, always looking to move forward and do the best of my ability.I will never forget how welcoming the lawyers at Freshfields were and how kind they were to take the time to listen to our stories and encourage to keep striving for our aspirations. I was lucky enough to speak to a lawyer who shared my interest in the Law’s place in technology and the struggle for sustainable energy. The conversation further encouraged me to stay up to date with my interests to ensure that I am aware of current advancements in this field.From even quite a brief conversation, I was amazed by how much I learned in such a short space in time and hope I will be able to impart my own knowledge in the future in that succinct and highly professional way.
I relish the opportunity to go to events like that as it offers an opportunity for reflection. Reflection is important to me as it allows me to remember how far I have come and also think deeply about the next steps I have to take. Though I was surrounded by highly affluent and intelligent people, I still felt grounded and confident in my own accomplishments. I believe that self-belief can either make you or break you. Over-confidence can make us complacent and lack of belief in ourselves is equally as disadvantageous. We need to find a balance. We must recognise our strengths but also identify our weaknesses and how we can improve. Humility is so important, especially in a work environment and we as individuals must ensure that we tolerant and understanding of other individuals’ journies of success.
In sharing my experience, I hope I have encouraged you to perhaps consider going to such events that allow you to learn, network and reflect. Though the journey to success may often feel like an uphill battle it is imperative that we make use of all/any opportunities that come our way. Though the occurrence of an opportunity may not be the only factor, it is evident from my experiences that an opportunity can be the difference between experiencing an event that is essential to your growth as a professional or just staying at exactly the same place you are.
Thank you for reading. Stay motivated and keep active in your rises to success.
” Strive not to be a success, but rather of value.”
~ Albert Einstein
London Skyline | Image by Kristoffer Trolle © Creative Commons