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 with multiple offices across the globe. 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.
The star performers
Administrative and public law; Brand management; Commercial property: investment; Competition litigation; Corporate governance; Customs and excise; Data protection privacy and cybersecurity; Debt capital markets; Employee share schemes; Employment: employers and senior executives; EU and competition: trade, WTO, anti-dumping and customs; Fraud: civil; IT and telecoms; Pensions (non-contentious); Personal tax; Power (including electricity and renewables); Property finance; Trusts and probate; VAT and indirect tax; Water
Assisted Hong Kong-listed Spring REIT with its £73.5m acquisition of 84 let properties in the UK; counselling Michael Kors on its EMEA store expansion and maintenance; advising CIMB Bank Berhad on the £2bn redevelopment of Battersea Power Station, which has involved Islamic and conventional financing; represented Addison Lee in a gig economy case regarding the employment status of its drivers; defended Bard against claims of allegedly faulty medical devices and procedures used to treat female pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence
Alliance Boots; CLdN Cobelfret; Google; Halliburton; BNP Paribas; Mapletree; Novartis; Pinterest; United Nations Commissioner for Refugees; Walgreens Boots Alliance
The ‘emphasis on diversity’ that Baker McKenzie promotes is one reason several trainees applied to join. They were impressed by the firm’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment characterised by a ‘friendly’ atmosphere where the ‘approachability of colleagues at all levels’ is placed at a premium. The firm’s ‘global presence’ and related ‘international opportunities’ were likewise a big draw for applicants. Although Baker McKenzie is a large firm, ‘the teams have a small feel to them and trainee intakes aren’t too big’. Newbies felt that their training was of a similar standard to that of peers at other City firms, however, they are ‘trusted a lot more’ allowing them to ‘develop high-level legal expertise’. Trainees also felt they were given ‘more support’, but some complained that they had ‘much less choice’ over seats and international secondments. Survey respondents also grumbled about the ‘office building’, stating that it’s ‘quite cramped’ and ‘outdated’, however, it was acknowledged that ‘work is being done to solve this problem’. ‘Lack of transparency’ relating to processes and the ‘seat rotation policy’ were also common gripes, as trainees felt that changes to the allocation system ‘caused problems and disappointment’. Indeed ‘not getting my seat preference’ was a low-point, as was ‘several weeks working past midnight’, ‘endless corporate drudgery’ and having to deal with ‘bibles and bundles’. However, this was offset by highlights such as ‘getting praise’, ‘being paid’, ‘working on interesting anti-bribery work’ and ‘going on secondment’. If you want the ‘best package’ consisting of ‘high-quality work’ and a relatively ‘relaxed’ corporate culture, Baker McKenzie is a great option.
A day in the life of...
Lewis Malkin first-seat trainee
Departments to date: Corporate energy, mining and infrastructure
Degree:History, 2:1 (Hons)
9.00am: On my way in, I listen to a podcast, check the news and catch up on emails. Once at the office, I grab some breakfast from F3 (our canteen), catch up with other trainees and then make my way to my desk. I sit in the corporate energy, mining and infrastructure department which is a subdivision of the wider corporate team at Baker McKenzie. My day is always varied and can range from helping a client acquire a property in Leicester Square to researching regulatory developments for various energy sources. It sounds clichéd, but every day is unique at Baker McKenzie.
9.30am: Due to the variety of trainee work available, I often find my to-do list goes out the window by 11am. However, I still find it a useful exercise as it helps me stay on top of my various tasks. I have been working on a number of due diligence reports for a UK North Sea client and each report requires verification of certain key issues that have arisen throughout our due diligence. I catch up with my supervisor about my findings and we arrange a call with the client for the afternoon.
10.00am: We are completing a property acquisition at the end of the week, so I prepare a list of the documentation we will need. I drop in to catch up with the associate who I’ve been assisting, and we chat through the list. The associate asks me to draft a couple of documents that need to be sent out to the client. The associate points out that examples of the documents are in our precedent bank, and so I should have a first go.
11.30am: After locating the examples from our precedent bank and clarifying a few queries I have with the professional support lawyer in our department, I grab a cup of tea and settle down to draft the documents. Before heading off to lunch, I update the document list I prepared this morning to keep track of where I am up to.
12.45pm: As it’s a sunny day, a couple of trainees are heading out to lunch to eat outside St Paul’s cathedral. Everyone is in a good mood and we talk about upcoming holidays and weekend plans.
1.15pm: Once I get back to my desk, I send around an instruction email to local counsel in jurisdictions across Africa. As part of a carve-out transaction, one of our clients wants to purchase a global pharmaceutical business. I have asked local counsel in my allocated jurisdictions to clarify a few regulatory points. Our London office is often responsible for co-ordinating global projects and it gives trainees a great chance to build relationships beyond the UK and to manage part of the transaction independently. It’s a steep learning curve, but one that is undoubtedly worthwhile.
2.00pm: I call our UK North Sea client with my supervisor and discuss my findings. As this client specialises in the oil and gas industry and is planning to acquire a number of oil fields around the UK, there are a number of additional regulatory hurdles that must be dealt with. My supervisor chats me through this and asks me to set out an easily digestible table which we can talk through with the client. The client is coming into the office tomorrow morning, so I get to work straightaway.
4.45pm: I catch up with my supervisor regarding the table I have created and we discuss a few points of law that we may need to raise with the client. I also catch up with another associate who is working on this transaction to get his input.
6.00pm: Following further calls with local counsels across Africa, I grab my football kit and go downstairs to meet the other members of Baker McKenzie football team. We play various law firms across the city and tonight’s game is the semi-final of the cup. Hopefully we can return with a win!
About the firm
Address:100 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6JA
Telephone: 020 7919 1000
Fax:020 7919 1999
Managing partner: Alex Chadwick
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
Total partners: 109 (London office only)
Other fee-earners: 276 (qualified solicitors, London office only)
Total trainees: 66 (across both years, London office only)
Trainee places available for 2021: 33 (London office only)
Applications received pa: 2,000
First year: £45,000
Second year: £49,000
Newly qualified: £77,000
Apply to:The graduate recruitment team.
When to apply:First year insight scheme, vacation scheme (spring and summer) and training contract for 2021 – see website for deadlines.
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.
Spring:1-12 April (apply by 30 November 2018).
Summer:Scheme 1: 17 June-5 July 2019; scheme 2: 15 July-2 August 2019 (apply for both by 15 January 2019).