Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Baker McKenzie LLP
The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Baker McKenzie LLP
Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Excellent client list’, ‘interesting work on the vac scheme’, ‘top-quality transactional work’, ‘a culture of diversity and inclusion underpins the firm’, ‘I wanted to be working on multi-jurisdictional deals but also have a training environment where I wasn’t just a number’, ‘leading IP and employment departments’, ‘people truly believe in working hard and making sure everyone is happy along the way’
Best thing about the firm? ‘Its uniquely friendly culture’, ‘mostly genuinely nice people’, ‘good clients’, ‘the international aspects and the quality of work and clients’, ‘the working atmosphere’, ‘the people are generally happy to accommodate evening plans and holidays’, ‘open-door policy’, ‘the trainee network is really close across the intakes and is a great source of support’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘We need more transparency on seat rotation and secondment opportunities’, ‘sometimes a lack of oversight means that trainees can get overwhelmed by their workload’, ‘competitiveness amongst trainees for qualification jobs in popular areas’, ‘the IT is a bit rubbish’, ‘training quality and work/life balance varies greatly between departments’, ‘work allocation between trainees is unfair in some departments’
Best moment? ‘Getting complimentary feedback on a challenging task I figured out myself’, ‘closing a huge deal at 3am’, ‘attending meetings for the largest transaction the firm had ever completed’, ‘working on and winning a huge pitch in my first two months’, ‘going to Italy with two partners for the firm’s EMEA China group meeting’, ‘being seconded to San Francisco’
Worst moment? ‘Early morning finishes’, ‘the PSC course, which felt like a repetition of the LPC’, ‘missing seeing a friend who was visiting’, ‘feeling like I was drowning in work’, ‘letting an error slip into a contract and having to intervene to fix it at the last minute before a signing’, ‘lack of support when extremely busy’
The Lex 100 verdict on Baker McKenzie LLP
The firm: “We are The New Lawyers. Lawyers who collaborate across borders, markets and industries around the globe to solve our clients’ most complex problems. We are innovators. One of the very first global firms. We embrace new technology, inspire each of our lawyers with the most challenging and high profile work, and pay much more than just lip service to important issues such as gender, ethnicity and inclusiveness.”
The deals: Advised Saudi shopping mall giant Arabian Centres Company on its $748 million IPO, with an implied market capitalization of $3.3 billion; advising Bank Syndicate on a US$2.3 billion financing for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited; advised Shell’s New Energies division on its agreements to acquire 100% of sonnen; advising as Unilever acquires €4.6 billion Horlicks brand and other consumer healthcare nutrition Products from GSK; advising Westinghouse Electric Company on $4.6 billion sale to Brookfield Business Partners.
The clients: Clients include venture capital funds, investment banks, tech powerhouses, household names, multinational technology companies, famous consumer brands, world-leading automotive companies and private equity houses.
The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) 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.
Baker McKenzie’s ‘recent growth in transactional practices’ in particular excited many respondents. In addition to the ‘international capabilities, exciting clients and high-quality transactional work’, the global firm’s feedback was littered with praise for its commitment to diversity and inclusion. These are ‘not just buzzwords but a cultural ethos that everyone believes in’, which explains the firm’s Lex 100 Winner medal in the inclusiveness category. Impressively, Baker McKenzie has earned a further two Lex 100 Winner gongs in the vacation scheme and international secondments arenas. Indeed, ‘a three-month secondment to Hong Kong’ was singled out as a best moment, with the experience described as ‘great exposure to top-class clients and work’. Back in the London office, thanks to a relatively small trainee intake, recruits are ‘recognised as individuals’ and are granted ‘more responsibility and ownership of work’ from an early stage. Moreover, ‘people give honest feedback and help you develop as a lawyer and member of the firm’. Baker McKenzie ‘stands out in terms of collegiality’ and trainees appreciate the ‘respect for work/life balance’, where colleagues ‘understand that you want to have a life in the evening and at weekends’. This does, however, vary according to department, with instances of ‘working until 3am on a Friday having worked late for two weeks straight’ not unheard of. A few respondents mentioned that the office building ‘needs a revamp’, but it is our understanding this is already underway. If a ‘truly global firm’ which boasts an ‘excellent client list’ but which also has a ‘genuine commitment to making a career in law more accessible’ appeals to you, research Baker McKenzie.
A day in the life of… Eby Oligboh-Anyadubalu, Trainee, Baker McKenzie
Departments to date: Corporate EMI
University: University of Southampton
8.30am: On the train into work, I listen to some music and check my calendar to refresh my mind on the plan for the day. I also take a moment to catch up with the other trainees on our WhatsApp group chat which we set up in our first week to help everyone stay in touch – as usual the chat is abuzz with what we have all been up to.
9.00am: As I make my way from the station I stop off for my morning coffee fix at Caffé Nero (conveniently right next to the office!).
9.15am: Once at my desk, as I am working on different matters concurrently, I organise my emails into files to help me keep track of everything and set my priorities for the day. The day-to-day work in our team tends to be quite dynamic and within my first few months, I have been brought into a variety of tasks including the project financing of a port development in Georgia and a divestment proposal for a major African oil company. I am mainly working on a complex reorganisation of a client’s business in the EMEA region. After filing my emails, I go into the information tracker to reflect information that has been provided and identify areas which are outstanding.
10.30am: As part of the of the reorganisation project, we have a weekly call with the client to run through the progress of each of the steps on the micro plan. During the call, I am able to observe how the senior associate and partner interact with the client. I take detailed notes throughout, highlighting any actions to be taken and proposed timings. Post-call, I circulate the actions list to the team.
12.00pm: Around midday, one of the partners approaches me to let me know that an opportunity to attend an industry gas event has arisen and asks if I would like to attend. I accept the chance to represent the firm and gain exposure to the wider industry.
12.45pm: At lunch time, I pop down to F3 (the canteen area) to meet with the other trainees for a quick bite to eat – a few sweet potato fries and a burrito later, everyone is in high spirits as we catch up on how our week has been going and discuss weekend plans.
1.30pm: Back at my desk, I respond to emails that have come in over lunch and ensure that the information tracker is updated. In the meantime, one of the associates has requested that I check the articles of association of the entities in the EMEA reorganisation to ensure there are no restrictions which would prevent the transactions from going ahead and identify where shareholder approval is needed. Accordingly, I search online at Companies House to obtain the relevant documents.
3.15pm: Mid-afternoon, I go for a quick catch up with one of my mentors who takes an active role in BakerEthnicity (the firm’s initiative to promote greater diversity and inclusivity). We discuss how I am finding things and any events that are coming up, and in particular an upcoming W-CAN event which the firm is hosting and where I will be one of the panel speakers, engaging in a dialogue with aspiring young black women looking toward a career in the law.
4.00pm: Having reviewed the articles of association, I have identified a few provisions to be flagged. I send an email with my findings to the associate before heading over to her desk to discuss what needs to be done next. One great thing about being in the corporate department is the open plan office which creates a very supportive environment, making it easy to approach colleagues and allowing interaction at all levels.
6.00pm: After rounding up my tasks for the day, I pop over to the local meet up spot, El Vino, for a few drinks with the rest of the team.
About the firm
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’re 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: Gym subsidy, dining discounts, cycle to work scheme, gadget insurance, concierge and discounts service, health and life insurance, group personal pension, 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.