Created with Baker McKenzie

A snapshot of trainee life at an international law firm

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By Aishah Hussain on

Baker McKenzie beyond the graduate recruitment brochure

You probably would have never thought Instagram — the popular photo-sharing app that is commonly associated with users sharing selfies, holiday throwbacks and matcha chai latte pics (#nofilter) — could help you land a training contract, right?

Well, it can aid your research when writing application forms. Social media savvy firms such as Baker McKenzie are on Instagram and regularly share insights into the lives of their lawyers.

Follow ‘@bakermckenzie_londongraduates’ to keep up to date with the goings-on at the international law firm. This way you’ll get a feel for the firm’s culture and what matters most to them. We find out that Baker McKenzie ranks highly for social mobility in one post, and that it encourages staff to volunteer for charitable causes, in another. You’ll gather interesting titbits such as how the firm celebrated Christmas one year (a festive dinner and its lawyers carol singing), Shrove Tuesday (with its very own in-office pancake station, of course), and how the trainee summer party went down (inflatables and Hawaiian leis galore). You’ll also pick up training contract and vacation scheme tips along the way — invaluable information for prospective applicants.

To save you the time scrolling, we have compiled the top three things that applicants can learn about Baker McKenzie from its Instagram page.

1. The global nature of the firm

In a recent Instagram Live-Chat we sat down with Jacob Turner, a trainee solicitor at Baker McKenzie who was in his third seat at the time of filming. Turner explained how the firm draws on its huge global network of offices to handle multijurisdictional matters for big-name clients, and how this translates into the day-to-day life of a trainee.

The first-ever deal he worked on involved six countries across Asia and Africa. This meant he had to get to grips with the different laws and regulations at play as well as think about the commercial implications between cultures. “Most trainees at Baker McKenzie rarely do anything that has ‘one dimension’, i.e. involving just one jurisdiction such as the UK. Everything we work on is multijurisdictional,” said Turner. “My days are filled with calls with clients across the globe.”

Further, the vast majority (around 90% according to our 2020 Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey) of Baker McKenzie trainees complete an international secondment during their training contract. The process is fairly transparent and the firm operates a rolling list of secondments abroad. The global nature of the firm means there are opportunities to be seconded anywhere so long as the office has an English qualified lawyer that is able to supervise your work. Last year, according to one post, destinations ranged from Brussels and Dubai to New York and Tokyo, with the addition of Sydney and Hong Kong this year.

In one post (below), trainee solicitor Jerrold Yam details his experience of being seconded to the firm’s Singapore office. “It’s been a fantastic adventure both in and out of the office,” he says.

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Hear from our Trainee Jerrold Yam, who is on secondment in Singapore; “I've just crossed the halfway mark in my three month secondment to the Singapore office with the M&A practice group, and it's been a fantastic adventure both in and out of the office. We've acted for a bidder in a multi-jurisdictional share sale by way of auction, where my chief tasks involved coordinating the Q&A work stream and consolidating local counsel responses into a due diligence report. I also assisted with amending a shareholders' agreement and a share subscription agreement based on negotiation meetings for a cross-jurisdictional joint venture with private equity investment. Outside the office, the tropical Singaporean weather enhances that first sip of ice cold beer with colleagues on a Friday evening. Food options are diverse, eclectic and refined, showing off the country's multiracial heritage (from grilled satay and steamed crabs, to caramelised pork and saffron rice). Singapore's a great hub for travel around Asia Pacific, so it would almost be irresponsible of me not to have already booked trips to Seoul, Bali and Melbourne! #trainees #trainingcontract #bakermckenzie #lawcareers #graduates #singapore #secondment #travel

A post shared by Baker McKenzie Grads London (@bakermckenzie_londongraduates) on

Applications for Baker McKenzie’s 2022 Training Contract (Penultimate years, finalists and graduates) close on Wednesday 1 July 2020

2. An authentic commitment to diversity and inclusion

A commitment to diversity and inclusion is at the core of the firm’s culture. We learn from Turner in the two-way chat that the very first question on the firm’s application form focuses on diversity: what it means to the applicant and how they are able to demonstrate their commitment. “We’re a really friendly and sociable firm — our people truly care about one another and naturally that translates into diversity,” he added.

Baker McKenzie’s diversity and inclusion initiatives include BakerWellbeing, BakerWomen, BakerLGBT, BakerEthnicity and BakerOpportunity. Every lawyer at any level of seniority is actively encouraged to get involved and make a difference.

Baker McKenzie prioritises lawyer wellbeing which “boosts morale and positivity”, explains trainee solicitor Kristin Gottschalk in one post. Another post shows a recent BakerOpportunity panel event, ‘Addressing the Class Ceiling’, which explored ways of improving social mobility. Turner is part of ‘Future Aim’, a trainee-led initiative at Baker McKenzie which sees its rookies partner with schools outside London to deliver sessions on commercial awareness.

Upholding justice is another key strand of the firm’s culture and there are opportunities for its people — including its vac schemers — to undertake pro bono work. Unlike some firms the hours spent working pro bono at Baker McKenzie count towards lawyers’ billable hour targets, and trainees (who don’t have annual targets) can work pro bono at the Legal Advice Centre in Bethnal Green, Turner explained.

Applications for Baker McKenzie’s 2020 Brand Ambassador scheme (September – December) close on Wednesday 1 July 2020

During the training contract, trainees complete a ‘Volunteer Day’. In one post (below) we learn that one intake spent a long weekend volunteering with Help Refugees and Refugee Community Kitchen in Calais.

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“19 trainees used their volunteer day to spend a long weekend volunteering with Help Refugees and Refugee Community Kitchen in Calais. We spent our time chopping veg, sorting through donations and cutting wood to help the charities feed, clothe and keep warm the 1,500 refugees living in appalling conditions in Calais and Dunkirk. It was an eye opening experience to witness the terrible conditions that the refugees are being forced to live in, having fled the conflict torn countries which they come from in the hope of achieving a better life for themselves and their families. Despite all of this it was heart warming to witness the continued hope, energy and enthusiasm of the volunteers, many of whom have given up careers to ensure that the refugees are not forgotten” Polly Mainds – Trainee #bakermckenzie #law #volunteering #getmorefromlaw #law2018 #graduates #trainees

A post shared by Baker McKenzie Grads London (@bakermckenzie_londongraduates) on

3. How to ace the application process

The application process for a training contract at Baker McKenzie consists of a written application form which includes a cover letter (beware of misspelling ‘Baker Mckenzie’ and “not signing off correctly”!), an online psychometric test, video interview and assessment centre.

Research is an integral part of the application process. Sixty-five percent of Baker McKenzie’s 3,340 followers felt insufficiently prepared to submit a strong vacation scheme application in a recent poll conducted by the firm. It helps to have a solid understanding of the firm and what they’re hoping to gauge from you at each stage of the process, explained Turner. In the cover letter, for example, it’s worth explaining your motivations for applying to the firm and for the work experience section of the form, it’s worth keeping a record of your work history dates and to include all (law and non-law) work experience.

Prospective applicants can find out more about the firm by attending campus events, workshops and open days. Students currently studying at a UK university should also consider becoming a Baker McKenzie brand ambassador as a way to learn more about the firm and expand their professional network. Baker McKenzie also hosts networking dinners for university students to meet with the firm’s lawyers and graduate recruitment team in a relaxed setting.

In a recent ‘Ask me Anything’, the graduate recruitment team explained that there is no such thing as a “perfect candidate”. Baker McKenzie recruits a range of individuals with something different to offer. “What is incredibly important is to let your personality shine through and to be yourself. We like people who are interested and interesting!”

Thomas Hogan and Lizzie Arthey have also shared their top tips to making a good impression during the video interview. These include finding a quiet place free from interruptions, being aware of your background and muting notifications on your computer.

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This week Thomas and Lizzie filmed the video interview questions for our First Year Insight Scheme. During a video interview, you will receive a set of questions that you must record responses to in video format ? A few of our top tips include: ▪️Prepare as you would for a face-to-face interview ▪️Find a quiet place free from interruptions ▪️Be aware of your background ▪️Speak clearly ▪️Put your phone on silent and turn off notifications on your computer ▪️Make eye contact – try to look at the camera instead of yourself on the screen Wishing everyone the best of luck in your video interviews! #bakermckenzie #law #london #firstyear #scheme #lawcareers #experience #legal #careers #university #videointerview #recruitmentlife

A post shared by Baker McKenzie Grads London (@bakermckenzie_londongraduates) on

Arthey summed up what applicants can learn from Baker McKenzie’s Instagram page:

“Follow Baker McKenzie’s Instagram page for a peek into the world of commercial law. Learn about the workplace culture, current news in the legal industry, the life of a trainee solicitor, and opportunities available at the firm.”

Applications for Baker McKenzie’s 2022 Training Contract (Penultimate years, finalists and graduates) close on Wednesday 1 July 2020

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