Top 50 US Firms in London Rank4

Over the years Baker McKenzie has eschewed the expansion-through-merger strategy of most of its peers, choosing instead to grow into one of the world’s largest law firms through a steady stream of greenfield launches. From its foundations in 1949 Chicago with four lawyers, the firm now employs 13,000 people, has over 1,600 partners, and in 2016/17 turned over $2.67bn. Internationalisation started early for founders Russell Baker and John McKenzie, with a Venezuela office in 1955. The firm opened in Brussels

Over the years Baker McKenzie has eschewed the expansion-through-merger strategy of most of its peers, choosing instead to grow into one of the world’s largest law firms through a steady stream of greenfield launches.

From its foundations in 1949 Chicago with four lawyers, the firm now employs 13,000 people, has over 1,600 partners, and in 2016/17 turned over $2.67bn.

Internationalisation started early for founders Russell Baker and John McKenzie, with a Venezuela office in 1955. The firm opened in Brussels two years later and in the UK in 1961. In 1963 it launched in Manila, its first Asia-Pacific base.

In 1987 Baker & McKenzie became the first global firm to employ 1,000 lawyers. It doubled in size in the next 10 years, hiring its 2,000th lawyer in 1997. Growth then accelerated with another 1,000 lawyers added in just four years. Baker & McKenzie also became one of the first firms to break the $1bn barrier in 2001.

In 2004 the firm drew up a strategy paper that would dictate its future growth in headcount, turnover and profitability.

A rare mass lateral hire for the firm occurred in 2005, when Baker & McKenzie absorbed 70 partners plus lawyers and staff from the collapsing Coudert Brothers in New York. The move doubled the size of the office.

In the last decade Baker & McKenzie’s expansion has continued, with another 12 office launches since 2009. It has targeted a number of emerging markets and is now present in 47 countries.

The firm’s revenue is fairly evenly split, with similar proportions coming from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the Americas. Asia-Pacific is smaller but growing in importance.

Baker McKenzie is structured as a Swiss verein of a number of legally-separate constituent entities. While some would argue this means it is not a single firm, Bakers itself argues that the structure does not prevent it from acting as one body and it achieves consistently high rankings in global branding indexes.

Baker McKenzie’s most famous former leader is Christine Lagarde, now managing director of the International Monetary Fund and a former French politician. Lagarde joined Bakers in 1981 and was elected as its first female chair in 1999.

John Conroy
John Conroy

In 2004 North American managing partner John Conroy was elected as chair and Lagarde became president of the firm’s global strategic committee. Together with other senior partners including Brazil managing partner Eduardo Leite, the duo were responsible for Bakers’ new strategic direction and Conroy oversaw a period of growth plus the firm’s road through the 2008 global financial crisis.

In 2010 Conroy announced he would not be standing for another term in office. Leite became Bakers’ first Latin American chair, serving a four-year term plus a two-year extension until 2016.

Paul Rawlinson
Paul Rawlinson

In 2016 London managing partner Paul Rawlinson beat Europe, Middle East and Africa chair Gary Senior, Latin America chair Claudia Prado and former Paris managing partner Eric Lasry in a contested election to succeed Conroy. Rawlinson is the firm’s first UK-based chair.

The firm dropped its ‘&’ in 2017 in a rebrand which it said was about simplifying its message to clients and staff.

TRAINING CONTRACTS

What is the trainee salary at Baker McKenzie?

1st year trainee: £45,000

2nd year trainee: £49,000

What is the NQ salary at Baker McKenzie?

NQ: £75,000

Number of trainees: 68

BAKER McKENZIE FACTS

Founded: 1949

Location: London Blackfriars