Bakers pays tribute to former London chief Russell Lewin

Russell Lewin

Russell Lewin

Lewin was head of the firm’s City office between 1998 and 2003, and went on to become European member of the global executive committee.

A statement released by Bakers said: “As a natural born leader, Russell commanded genuine respect from everyone he encountered and was extremely generous with his time in supporting colleagues with the development of their careers.

“He’ll be sorely missed by the many people with whom he worked over the years, who are all the better for having known and worked with him. Our condolences go to Russell’s family and friends around the world.” 

Lewin, who was an IP/IT partner at Bakers at the time of his death, was also a trustee of the Social Mobility Foundation.

He joined Bakers in 1981 and made partner in 1990, helping to set up the firm’s first trademark unit in the late 1990s.

In memoriam Russell Lewin 1958-2009, by Michael Hart, manager of Baker & McKenzie’s London IP department, and Paul Rawlinson, global IP practice group leader

Our computer screens suddenly went red when Russell’s premature death was announced  and emails poured in from around the world. The screens were again red at the start of the following day. This multitude of emails had remarkably common themes. People celebrated Russell’s marvellous leadership, strength of personality, his loudness, his kindness and mentoring skills, his stubbornness and determination and the bright light, positivity and passion he brought to all he did. Passion for the firm was a repeated phrase.

Russell was larger than life in every sense. When he laughed, objects on shelves would shake. A microphone was redundant in the largest of halls and in fact became a dangerous weapon in his hands. When he sang Wild Thing you ran for cover, though his volume would have boon on the terraces of his beloved West Ham. Some might call him Falstaffian, but Russell was one of nature’s kings. One can easily imagine him in Tudor robes in a Holbein painting, which would been an improvement on some of his bright ties.

Russell lived and breathed the global firm from the day he started as a trainee at Baker & McKenzie in 1981, a time when there were very few international law firms and diversity was not a widely used concept. He worked as an IP/technology lawyer, spending some time at the Sydney office, which he loved. As an IP partner he had vision, setting up a trademarks unit at a time when they did not exist at law firms and again managing it brilliantly when his executive committee term ended. He was a dynamic managing partner of the London office, receiving the accolade of Managing Partner of the Year one year. He was an untiring member of the firm’s executive committee, where his strong belief in a global and diverse law firm was given full vent.

On the executive committee he was a liaison for the European offices and the global intellectual property and global IT/communications practice groups. He conducted these tasks, as well as many quality audits of offices around the firm, in a frank and robust but always positive and supportive way.

When Russell was blunt and forceful, that flowed from his enthusiasm to get positive things done and people knew that. One partner put it well, saying: “At first I thought he was too opinionated, too dogmatic and too unwilling to listen. I was wrong. He proved to be one of the most thoughtful and flexible people I have dealt with in firm management, a wonderful listener.”  He was deeply human, successfully mentoring many people and contributing greatly to pro bono work.

Like the vanishing Cheshire Cat left behind his grin, Russell leaves behind his large and beaming smile and the memory of his huge energy, great positivity and enormous passion. Russell loved life, his family and Baker & McKenzie. Indeed, for Russell, Baker & McKenzie was family, as the very many he took under his wing will testify to.