The Legal Cheek View
Baker McKenzie's founder, Russell Baker, was so poor that he rode for days in the cattle carriages on trains in order to enrol at the University of Chicago, where he then worked as a boxer to fund his tuition. Nearly 100 years on, his firm is among the largest in the world, turning over an enormous £1.5 billion last year. Although this is slightly down on the year previously, Bakers remains in the top three biggest law firms in the world by revenue, just behind fellow behemoths DLA Piper and Latham & Watkins.
Its roots may be in the US, but Bakers sees itself very much as an international firm, and is keen to emphasise that its largest office is London rather than Chicago. In total, the firm has a whopping 76 offices across 49 different countries. Legal Cheek understands that around 20% of Bakers' London trainees and junior lawyers have spent time on secondment in one of these locations, with Singapore, Paris and Frankfurt among the most popular destinations.
While the international jolly ratio may be a bit on the lowside, the training offered by the firm is very good, according to the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey. With junior level work pretty much what you would expect – "at times excellent, at times robot-worthy" – a major factor in the firm's strong training scores seems to be the partners, who have a reputation for being one of the nicest bunch of millionaires in the City. Reports one insider:
"You can approach partners here to discuss work issues, but also to talk about plans for the weekend or last night's football match. It's an office run by very down to earth and likeable people in the main."
In terms of perks, Bakers does fairly well, with an in-house doctor and physio, canteen, yoga classes, subsidised gym membership, corporate membership at the Tate and regular mortgage and financial planning clinics. But the rather "tatty" office "could do with updating".
Still, the work-life balance is relatively respectable (for a City law firm), with average departure times around 7:30pm, but varying widely according to workload and department. And the social life is among the best in legal London. The Blackfriar Pub is apparently "B&M HQ after 5:30pm on a Friday", while the firm's rookies are said to be "close to arranging a permanent trainee secondment to Book Club in Shoreditch".