The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Baker McKenzie is one of the largest firms in the world and has 4,000 lawyers across its 77 offices. Befitting its size and reach, much of the firm's work is cross border. The London office is the firm's largest and is highly regarded for tax, employment and competition law. Baker McKenzie was shortlisted for International Arbitration and Private Equity Team of the Year at the Legal Business Awards 2017.
The star performers
Brand management; Commercial contracts; Commercial property; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate crime (including fraud, bribery and corruption); Customs and excise; Emerging markets; Employment: employers and senior executives; Employee share schemes; Environment; EU and competition: Trade, WTO, anti-dumping and customs; Fraud: civil; Investment funds; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; Media and entertainment; Pensions; Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; Product liability: defendant; VAT and indirect tax.
Assisted Unilever with negotiating and drafting supply chain documents associated with the sale of the AdeS drinks business in Latin America to Coca-Cola; assisted Basilea with the exclusive licence of a drug product in certain territories and the re-acquisition of a product from a major pharmaceuticals company; acted for Dubai Islamic Bank in proceedings to recover $500m stolen in a complex receivables financing fraud; advised Korea Electric Power Corporation on the $24.4bn financing of the first nuclear power plant in the Arabian Peninsula; represented Boots before the Court of Appeal in a claim concerning union recognition of the Pharmacists' Defence Association.
Arab African International Bank; Emerson Electric; Grupo Torras; ICU Medical; Kingdom of Bahrain; Pinterest; Sony; Tesco Mobile; UBS; Walgreens Boots Alliance.
'International, friendly, lots of different departments' seems to encapsulate Baker McKenzie for the current cohort. The firm's 'global but local' feel is a big hit with trainees who understandably cite the 'interesting cross-border' and 'multi-jurisdictional work' as big enticements. The learning environment was highly applauded, with comments such as 'my supervisor (who's a partner), takes a genuine interest in my development' and 'rarely is a question a silly question', commonplace among the responses. The 'non-hierarchical structure' leads to trainees being treated as 'valuable contributors' and 'diversity and inclusion isn't just a slogan but a daily reality'. Such positive feedback makes it unsurprising that Baker McKenzie has won an impressive five Lex 100 Winner medals this year. There were some grumbles that there were 'not as many international secondment opportunities as was initially suggested' and some trainees also complained about the 'size of the office', as well as the 'long hours', although respondents generally agreed that this was 'totally offset by the level of responsibility given on transactions'. Work highlights include 'seeing off a client, who was grinning from ear to ear, after an all-night signing and closing', 'assisting with an IPO' and 'working on an award-winning M&A deal'. There is an 'absolutely brilliant range' of CSR and pro bono initiatives on offer, with one trainee saying 'I have drafted commercial agreements and attended and led negotiations for some excellent charities'. If you like the idea of a 'positive, collegiate atmosphere' in a firm which 'places a huge amount of confidence in trainees' and where 'great clients and good training' are a given, apply to Baker McKenzie.
A day in the life of...
Kara Heggs third-seat trainee
Departments to date: Banking, corporate tax, corporate (private equity and funds)
9.00am: While on my commute, I have a quick look at my iPhone to see if any emails have come in over night - I am working on a deal with a client in the US at the moment - and then flick through the business news. I grab a cup of tea and some breakfast from F3, our canteen, and bump into a couple of associates from the tax team who I worked with in my previous seat. I then make my way up to the corporate department.
9.30am: I look through my emails and make a to-do list for the day. I have several different transactions on at the moment, and need to make sure they are each moving forward. Since the client in the US isn't awake until this afternoon, I decide to focus on my other deal for the morning, a UK property acquisition.
10.00am: We are completing the property acquisition at the end of the week, so I prepare a list of all the documentation we will need by then. I drop in to catch up with the associate who I have been assisting on the deal, and we chat through the list together. The associate asks me to reach out to the client to talk them through some of the steps they need to take this week, and then draft a couple of the other documents. The associate points out that examples of the documents are in our precedent bank, and so I should have a first go.
11.00am: I've called the client and made a note of the call. I grab another cup of tea and settle down to draft the documents. A couple of emails come in from the law firm on the other side of the transaction, which I quickly deal with. Before heading off to lunch, I update the document list I prepared this morning to keep track of where I am up to.
12.30pm: A couple of trainees are heading out to lunch today to one of our favourite spots. Everyone is talking about the up and coming trainee party - we are going to a rooftop venue and everyone is hoping the weather will be nice!
1.15pm: Back at my desk, I send around an instruction email to three of my colleagues in our overseas offices. As part of a wider post-transaction reorganisation, one of our clients wants to shut down some branches across Europe. I have asked my colleagues in the relevant jurisdictions to send me the steps required to do this. Our London office is often responsible for co-ordinating this kind of project and it gives trainees a great chance to build relationships beyond the UK. I set a reminder in my diary to discuss the responses with the senior associate managing the project.
2.00pm: I've got a couple of hours until our US client comes online, so I get to work on this matter. Our client is buying a portfolio of assets and we need to review the acquisition agreement. The associate chats me through her comments on the document, and asks me to set out an easily digestible table which we can talk through with the client. I get to work on this - we have a call with the client at 4.30pm.
4.30pm: The call lasts about an hour and I take notes. We will now need to prepare a mark up showing our client's proposed changes to the agreement, including points that our client isn't commercially prepared to accept.
5.45pm: We have a corporate training session - today's discussion is on force majeure clauses. The corporate team regularly has training sessions where we discuss what work we have on or discuss a topical issue, change in law or trend in the market. Today's session is followed by team drinks.
About the firm
Address:100 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6JA
Telephone: 020 7919 1000
Fax:020 7919 1999
Managing partner: Alex Chadwick
Total partners: 99 (London office only)
Other fee-earners: 278 (qualified solicitors, London office only)
Total trainees: 68 (across both years, London office only)
Other offices: 77 offices in 47 countries.
Who we are: With a presence in all leading financial centres, Baker McKenzie is the world's leading global law firm.
What we do: With a strong international client base, we have considerable expertise in acting on, and co-ordinating, complex cross-border transactions and disputes. Our client base consists primarily of venture capital funds, investment banks, technology powerhouses and household name brands.
What we are looking for: We are looking for trainees who are stimulated by intellectual challenge and respect and enjoy the diversity of cultural, social and academic backgrounds found in the firm. Effective communication skills, together with the ability to be creative, team players with acute commercial awareness and a sense of humour are necessary to succeed in the firm.
What you'll do:The two-year training contract comprises four six-month seats which include a corporate and a contentious seat. We also offer the possibility of a secondment abroad or with a client. Alongside technical legal seminars, your training includes practical and interactive workshops focusing on key skills including practical problem solving, presenting and other key business skills.
Perks: Permanent health insurance, life insurance, private medical/dental insurance, group personal pension, subsidised gym membership, season ticket loan, subsidised staff restaurant.
Sponsorship:We pay fees and a maintenance grant for the GDL and LPC. Those studying towards the GDL receive a £6,000 maintenance grant, and those studying for the LPC will receive an £8,000 maintenance grant.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 33 (London office only)
Applications received pa: 2,000
First year: £45,000
Second year: £49,000
Newly qualified: £75,000
Apply to:The graduate recruitment team.
How: Online via website
What's involved: Online application form, online tests and video interview. Successful applicants will be invited to an assessment centre consisting of: a group exercise, partner interview/case study and associate interview.
When to Apply:
Training Contract: By 31 July 2018 for training contracts commencing in 2020.
Spring Vacation Scheme: By 30 November 2017.
Summer Vacation Scheme: By 15 January 2018.