Freshfields: jolly good sports

Firm has made the most of its close association with London 2012

Pretty much every event that Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer puts on these days has an Olympic theme, so it is no surprise that the firm will have a different feel when this year’s Olympics are over.

A small number of staff have been brought in on fixed contracts to work on London 2012 issues, although it is understood that some could find jobs But there is no doubting that as the main legal adviser, as well as being a sponsor of the Olympics, the event has been a big part of the firm’s operations since 2003.

It started when Charlie Wijeratna, then director of commercial negotiations for the London 2012 bid, called Freshfields corporate partner and former London managing partner Tim Jones, asking if the firm would get involved.

Jones has led the team since 2003, originally on the founding of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), where the firm was on a panel of advisers, and later on the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog).

The magic circle firm advised pro bono on the establishment of Locog between 2003 and 2005, when London won the bid, but charged agreed rates for the work for the ODA. It then charged Locog similar rates between 2005 and 2009, but since 2009 payment has been in kind – the firm has had publicity as a sponsor in return
for advice.

Freshfields says around 300 lawyers at the firm have worked on the process in some way, but the core team has involved Jones and competition partner Deirdre Trapp, who heads the team responsible for the impact of the Olympics on clients, alongside a business development team.

Most legal work has been carried out by a team of up to 15 secondees sent to Locog on a flexible basis.

An average of 10-12 associates and trainees have been on secondment at any one time – a handy recruitment tool. It has also sent retired real estate partner Geoff
le Pard and disputes consultant Lindsay Marr as more senior ammunition.

With London 2012 just over 170 days away the process is nearing its end, but one thing is for sure – Freshfields has made the most of it.