Baker & McKenzie
With a practice area diversification that enables it to maintain pace with the ‘big boys’, and more lawyers and offices than any other law firm on the planet, Baker & McKenzie is quite possibly the largest and most international law firm in the world.
- Has a reputation as one of the most social, diverse and welcoming law firms
- Exciting work and thorough training
- Can work overseas in one of the 72 offices
- Great reputation for pro bono work
- The London office has lots of autonomy and is not dictated to by the US
- Bonuses are not received by many
- Solicitors don’t always get a say in firm decisions
- Hours are long and unpredictable, though more British than American
Baker & McKenzie is one of the world's largest law firms, boasting the most lawyers, a wide variety of practices and an extensive international network spanning 45 countries. But despite popular belief, Baker & McKenzie isn’t a US firm; its administrative headquarters are in Chicago, yet the London office is its largest and most profitable, and strategic decisions are made by a global committee of partners from offices spanning the network. Baker & McKenzie's capacity to practice law in more than 250 jurisdictions and in 75 languages makes it one of the most international firms around.
Growing up in the American Southwest, a young Russell Baker dreamt of becoming a lawyer. So determined to make this dream a reality, he travelled all the way to a Chicago College by cattle car. He soon graduated with a law degree and, in 1925, founded the firm Baker & Simpson, which specialised in immigration, bankruptcy and criminal law. After a chance meeting in a taxi with an experienced litigator, John McKenzie, in 1949, the duo founded what would go on to become the world’s first international law firm: Baker & McKenzie.
Six years later, Baker & McKenzie opened its first foreign office in Caracas to service a Venezuelan client, and over the next three years international outposts were set up in Brussels, Sao Paulo and Zurich – in addition to its domestic expansion in Washington DC and New York. By 1978, Baker & McKenzie's wings spread across 26 offices in 20 countries. And at the turn of the century, it became the first law firm to break the $1 billion revenue barrier.
Baker & McKenzie boasts formidable practices across the board, but what really buoys the firm’s position in global law is its ability to advise multinational corporations on a whole host of legal matters. The firm has advised clients worldwide as diverse as Nasdaq, Starbucks, Abbott Laboratories, Arab National Bank, Saudi Arabia National Mining Company, L’Oreal, McLaren and the BBC Trust. Amongst the firm’s standout practices are IP, IT & Commercial, Corporate, Banking and Environmental. It occasionally steals the big M&A deals, but for the main part leaves this share of the market to its rivals.
For any hopeful trainee with a passion for travel, Baker & McKenzie may be the perfect firm with the opportunity for work abroad. Baker & McKenzie adopted a Swiss Verein structure in 2004, allowing each office to operate as a largely-autonomous component of a loose international organisation. No single nationality dominates the firm which employs over 4,000 lawyers across 72 offices. All trainees are able to apply for a secondment to one of the firm's international offices.
Furthermore, for those with a philanthropic penchant, Baker & McKenzie stands out as a desirable firm to work for. Baker’s history for pro bono dates back to its founder who ardently believed lawyers had a professional duty to provide legal services to the less fortunate. The firm splits its pro bono into six categories: legal services, partnering with clients, civic presence, employee volunteering, fellowships and charitable giving. In 1996, Baker set up a pro bono committee called Make A Difference, allowing its employees to get involved with local community projects and provide free legal advice in areas as diverse as children’s rights, immigration, poverty, housing and health.
The firm’s largest global office is in London and every year Baker & McKenzie recruits 34 of the top graduates the UK has to offer. Although they stress that there is no standard trainee, candidates without an impressive academic record are unlikely to get very far in the application process. The firm specifies you have a 2:1 from a leading UK university and a minimum of 340 UCAS points.
The application process is the same for both training contracts and vac schemes. It starts with an online application and a covering letter, followed by an online psychometric test. Get the pass mark and you’ll face a telephone interview with graduate recruitment. Impress on the phone and you’ll be invited to an assessment day where you’ll face a group exercise, a one-on-one interview with an associate and a partner interview. You will discuss a case with the partners, but don’t panic, you’ll be given time to read up on it beforehand.
Success will come to those displaying a number of qualities throughout the proceedings. The firm particularly looks for candidates with strong communication skills, pragmatism, leadership, commercial acumen, creativity and problem-solving skills. A sense of humour, a desire to learn and the ability to work well as part of a team and are also highly prized.
For those who do gain a training contract with Baker & McKenzie, expect to complete four six-month seats including one corporate and one contentious seat. You’ll be overseen by a trainee partner in each department and the graduate recruitment and development team throughout. With 71 global offices, there are plenty of opportunities to spend three months abroad, with many trainees opting to go to Singapore, Moscow or Hong Kong. Occasionally client secondments also crop up for trainees. The firm even throws in the additional benefit of a £3,000 joining bonus when you start your training contract to help you get settled into working life.
As well as a three-week London vacation scheme, Baker & McKenzie also offers an international vac scheme. It lasts between six and twelve weeks and you’ll spend half the time in London and the other half in one of the firm’s international offices. Available to law students in their penultimate year of study, it’s an excellent opportunity get to know the firm and gain experience working abroad.
Graduate Recruitment Info
Graduate Recruitment Team
Tel: 020 7919 1000
Training Contracts: 31st July 2013
Vacation Schemes: 31st January 2013
No. of lawyers firm-wide: 4,000+
No. of partners firm-wide: 1,400
No. of lawyers in London: 400+
London trainee intake: 34
London trainees retained: 80% (Feb 2012)
BAKER & MCKENZIE: 2013 LAW RANKINGS
# 15 Most Reputable Law Firm (6.89/10)
1st year trainee: £38,000
2nd year trainee: £40,000
Newly qualified: £61,500
1 year PQE: £68,000
2 years PQE: £74,000
3 years PQE: £83,000
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100 New Bridge Street
London EC4V 6JA
Tel: +44 (0)20 7919 1000
No. of worldwide offices: 72 in 45 countries
Ho Chi Minh City
Rio de Janeiro*