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03 Herbert Smith Freehills

Following the successful merger in 2012 Herbert Smith Freehills is uniquely positioned to support the major trade flows with 24 offices spanning Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the US. 

In 2015, the firm embarked on an efficiency drive to deliver more to its clients for less. The firm has launched a global alternative legal services centre in Belfast bringing together 240 lawyers, legal assistants and technologists, to focus on document review, regulatory claims assessment, due diligence, client technology services and asset management for real estate clients among other services. The firm has also decided to roll out a programme across all practice areas to appoint legal project managers to take control of client work and fee allocation. The move is in response to client demands, as CEO Sonya Leydecker explains: “Clients are increasingly looking to their lawyers for more imaginative solutions and choices.” 

Total Listings 193
No. Partners 460
Firm Size 2,500
Home Jurisdiction UK/ Australia
Established 2012
No. Offices 24
  • Litigation
  • Hong Kong


On the energy front, Herbert Smith Freehills is home to a deep bench of experienced lawyers. Co-heads of the energy group Robert Merrick, Anna Howell and John Balsdon are all highly recommended in our research. Based in Perth, Merrick specialises in oil and gas, electricity and mining law. He is a “top-flight practitioner” with “outstanding abilities”. Howell in London is particularly strong on assisting companies with their first entries into mature and emerging markets, while Balsdon focuses on the oil and gas sector advising on project finance and is a “strong negotiator”.

The firm’s M&A practice encompasses public and private transactions across the major financial markets in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Latin America. Herbert Smith Freehills recently advised on the largest ever cross-border acquisition in Myanmar: the acquisition via a Singapore holding company, of a majority stake in Myanmar Tower Company, a leading telecoms infrastructure company, by Malaysian telecoms giant Axiata Group’s wholly owned subsidiary edotco Group. Rodd Levy in Melbourne has practised in the field for over 25 years. Clients praise his “vast experience” which enables them to benefit from “best practice” and “industry insights”. Levy is also a member of the Takeovers Panel, the main dispute resolution forum for takeovers in Australia. Ralf Thaeter in Berlin is the managing partner for the firm in Germany. His experience includes corporate law, with a focus on public and private M&A, as well as general corporate advisory work. He is a “great strategist” and “always puts his clients first”. 

Dispute resolution is a forte of the firm and this year marks the seventh time Herbert Smith Freehills has received our litigation award. Justin D'Agostino is global head of the dispute resolution practice. Based in Hong Kong, he is recommended for his arbitration practice which has seen him act as counsel and advocate before tribunals the world over. Mark Shillito is a “stellar” IP litigator who is highly recommended for his patent and trademark practice, as well as his experience handling patent litigation for life sciences companies. Shillito heads the disputes practice in the UK and US and is also global head of IP at the firm. Adam Johnson in London is a “superb advocate” who specialises in banking and securities litigation. Damien Byrne Hill, the leader of the firm’s banking litigation practice in London, is lauded for his “ability to keep one step ahead of the opponent”. 


In the past year Herbert Smith Freehills has devoted more than 52,000 hours to providing pro bono legal advice. Work ranges from sponsoring legal clinics, taking on advocacy matters including human rights cases and death row appeals, and providing services to the public through legal centres, community centres and shelters for homeless people. 


Herbert Smith Freehills firmly believes in upholding a culture of inclusion that fosters differences to attract and retain the best talent to provide its clients with the most considered and innovative advice. The firm’s strategy has a particular focus on leadership, the partnership pipeline, innovative work practices and partnering with clients.  

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Law Business Research Ltd

87 Lancaster Road, London
W11 1QQ, UK