Skip to main contents
May Smith

May Smith, Partner

Freshfields in three words Friendly, challenging, global

May Smith, Partner

May Smith, Freshfields Partner, talks about support, career progression and building confidence.

People remember you as a trainee.

Even in seats you won’t qualify into, make sure you do your best. As a trainee, you’re unlikely to be leading on the strategic aspects of a transaction. But you do get a reputation for the quality of your work and whether you muck in. Later on, people may choose to involve you in an important matter – or back you more generally – based on their experience of you during your training contract.

At Freshfields, senior people are very willing to help you.

That might be giving advice or putting you forward for greater responsibility. Taking advantage of that can make a big difference to your career progression.

We have a very supportive environment.

Our work can be quite challenging and there will be times when there are long hours so we have lots of support. There’s always someone to talk to if you’re stressed out, whether it's your supervisor, other people within your team, the graduate training and development team, or your dedicated trainee intake partner. We like to offer people lots of different options so they can go to the one where they feel most comfortable.

Becoming a partner at Freshfields is not about clocking up the most hours.

You need to work hard and do a good job, but keeping your head down and getting on with your day job isn’t enough. You also need to have a broader profile – people need to be confident that you will build client relationships and be a good ambassador for and leader of the firm. I’ve also found getting involved with other things – whether recruitment, a pro bono project or something else altogether – is rewarding and a great way of meeting people across the firm.

What does Freshfields expect of trainees?


To do their best, be engaged and be enthusiastic. There’s also increasingly an expectation that trainees and associates should help come up with fresh, innovative ideas to help improve our service. If we could do something in a more efficient way, please say something! Some of the best suggestions have come from our trainees and associates.

What can trainees expect of Freshfields?


Really interesting and unusual work for very-high profile clients. We very often find we’re doing things for the first time so there’s no precedent, which is exciting. And you’ll have a supportive and fun team around you while you work.

Freshfields in three words

Friendly, challenging, global

First year undergraduate
  • Open day

    25 April 2019

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct 2018 – 21 Feb 2019

  • Freshers meet
    Freshfields workshop

    4 Dec 2018

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct 2018 – 9 Nov 2019

  • Spring scheme

    • 10 Apr – 11 Apr 2019

      Application window dates:

      1 Oct 2018 – 21 Feb 2019

    • 17 Apr – 18 Apr 2019

      Application window dates:

      1 Oct 2018 – 21 Feb 2019

  • Open day

    25 April 2019

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct 2018 – 21 Feb 2019

  • Vacation scheme
    insight workshop

    6 Dec 2018

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct – 9 Nov 2018

  • Summer vacation schemes

    17 Jun – 5 Jul 2019

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct 2018 – 3 Jan 2019

    8 Jul – 26 Jul 2019

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct 2018 – 3 Jan 2019

  • Training contract 2021

    Summer application window dates:

    Law (UK LLB) only

    3 Jun – 18 Jul 2019

    London/Asia training contract 2021

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct 2018 – 31 Jan 2019

  • Open day

    25 April 2019

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct 2018 – 21 Feb 2019

  • Training contract 2021

    Winter application window dates:
    Law and non-law

    1 Oct 2018 – 3 Jan 2019

    Summer application window dates:
    Law (UK LLB) only

    3 Jun – 18 Jul 2019

  • Final year non-law Workshop

    11 Dec 2018

    Application window dates:
    Non-law only

    1 Oct – 9 Nov 2018

  • London/Asia training
    contract 2021

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct 2018 – 31 Jan 2019

  • Open day

    25 April 2019

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct 2018 – 21 Feb 2019

  • Training contract 2021

    Winter application window dates:
    Law and non-law

    1 Oct 2018 – 3 Jan 2019

    Summer application window dates:
    Law (UK LLB) and GDL graduates

    3 Jun – 18 Jul 2019

  • Graduate workshop

    13 Dec 2018

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct – 9 Nov 2019

  • London/Asia training
    contract 2021

    Application window dates:

    1 Oct 2018 – 31 Jan 2019

Close Application Window Application window