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A day in the life of a Freshfields EA

Jan 2019

Michelle Gager, Senior Consultant at Career Legal, catches up with Nicola Harrison, an Executive Assistant at Freshfields

Career Legal at Freshfields

How do you start your day?
Depending on how early I wake up, I’ll try to get some exercise in before leaving home and getting the train in to work where I’ll spend a few minutes checking on any emails I’ve had come in during the night. I make a quick stop at Pret for a sneaky skinny hot chocolate before getting in to the office. Once there I’ll log in, check emails and have a morning brief with my fee earners.

How did you get your job?
My career started working at a Barrister’s Chambers, where I gained a huge amount of experience before joining Hogan Lovells as a Legal Secretary. My manager at Hogan Lovells had moved to Freshfields and made me aware of this exciting opportunity, as she thought I would be a great fit and really good for the role.

Describe a typical day at Freshfields
I support a senior partner and 2 senior associates. The partner is co-head of global investigations and corporate crime, as well as acting as co-head for pro-bono work. Her diary is hectic, and she has her fingers in lots of pies! She is always in demand for meetings and catch ups, so acting as her gatekeeper and managing her diary is my main priority. I also get involved in quite a lot of personal work which frees up her time to spend on client work and enables her to manage both her work and home life. The support that I provide for my 2 senior associates includes diary coordination, billing,
travel, etc. 
My aim is provide as much value-add  support as possible in relation to all administrative matters, taking ownership of client budgeting/billing processes, tracking business development initiatives, and building good working relationships with those people my stakeholders work closely with, both internally and externally.

What training is offered to you to support your role?
As a new joiner, there is a great induction program which provides in-depth info about the firm and its core services, as well as technical training on all of their internal systems and processes. Following that, there are regular refreshers and updates both on the firm’s more bespoke systems and packages, as well as various soft skills training courses which are offered throughout each calendar year. There is an online learning portal you can log into which can provide further training and support when you need it.

As a new joiner, there is a great induction program which provides in-depth info about the firm and its core services, as well as technical training on all of their internal systems and processes.

What team/admin support is available?
The EAs and PAs in each practice area support a fixed allocation of fee earners. However, if it’s particularly busy we will always work as a team to support each other to meet business needs, and this creates a really pleasant and supportive working environment. We are also supported by various business services teams, including our Document Services team based in our Global centre in Manchester and in London, and a Reprographics team, both of which are available 24/7. 

What’s the best thing about working at Freshfields?
The people. The PAs and EAs in the group are so friendly and were really welcoming when I joined. This is also true of the fee earners. We all work closely together and, as the firm puts on so many social events and team outings, there are many opportunities for us to get together socially.
Just before I started working at Freshfields I was nervous of joining such a large firm. I had heard that magic circle firms can be impersonal and very rigid in their structure, but I couldn’t be more wrong! Everyone I’ve met in my time here has been genuinely friendly and supportive, regardless of their position in the firm. It sounds corny but it’s true!
Another thing I must mention is the benefits! There is a fantastic package on offer which includes pension and healthcare, as well as offering the chance to be involved with several clubs and socials. We also have a free onsite gym where they offer a great timetable of classes, completely free to Freshfields’ employees. The on-site beautician, dentist and doctor’s surgery is also really convenient!

What do you find challenging about your job?
Every day is different at Freshfields, you never know what exciting challenges the day will hold! You can often have ownership of several tasks/projects at any one time, sometimes for different stakeholders, and prioritising and managing your to-do list can sometimes be challenging, but the variety of work is also very interesting and the team ethic at Freshfields is extremely supportive of this, so no issues so far!

Download a copy of this interview

Contact our Legal PA team to find out more about Legal PA or EA opportunities at Freshfields. 


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