Bakers’ new London head puts lawyers ‘in clients’ shoes’ for first term

Baker & McKenzie’s London office will target emerging markets, global compliance and fixed-fee deals under a plan unveiled last week by new City managing partner Paul Rawlinson.

Paul Rawlinson
Paul Rawlinson

The successor to high-profile former managing partner Gary Senior kicked off his first term as head of Bakers’ London office by unveiling his plans for an over-hauled method of executing strategy, a new plan that includes four key target areas of work.

At a full partnership away day last Friday (5 July) at the Waldorf Hilton in Covent Garden, Rawlinson outlined a four-point strategy execution plan focused on engendering greater collaboration across Bakers’ teams and offices and better service delivery to clients.

The new plan, unveiled under the catchline ‘Collaborating to Win’, puts greater collaboration at the heart of revenue generation. It centres on “enabling client conversations” with partners and covers four of the themes Bakers and Rawlinson believes are both key to clients and central to the firm’s strategy and global nature.

“This is about putting ourselves in our clients’ shoes,” said Rawlinson. “We’re defining how best to deliver client service across borders and how to do it more consistently. Where we’re getting it right is getting partners and associates to talk to clients on their terms and about their key issues. The plan is all about getting our lawyers to do more of that.”

One of the key issues Bakers has identified clients accessing high-growth, or emerging, markets. “We’ve been in these markets for decades and this is about translating that for clients and helping them find the hidden jewels in a market they might not know as well,” said Rawlinson.

Another area is what Bakers calls ‘business transformations’, which includes post-merger or restructuring integration work on a global basis. Bakers partner Kirsty Wilson heads the re-organisations practice group which coordinates tax, employment and other areas of advice for multinationals.

The third area is compliance, including investigations, bribery and FCPA-related matters.

“The big change here is that compliance is now so much higher up a GC’s agenda and for global businesses they now need a head office relationship at a firm who can say what’s going on on the ground in each jurisdiction,” said Rawlinson.

Bakers’ fourth area of focus is its ‘global managed services’ scheme in which it packages up a specialist area such as IP, employment or real estate and manages a suite of work globally. Clients that already instruct Bakers on these fixed-fee deals include Unilever on IP, Colt on IT/commercial (20 January 2012), Invensys on employment and also Carlsberg, for which the firm is the sole global transactional legal counsel outside Denmark except real estate and debt collection (2 December 2010).

The firm has also just been appointed by the world’s biggest money printing company De La Rue, which has just chosen Baker & McKenzie as its preferred supplier for work outside the UK and US following a four-month tender (11 July 2013).

Rawlinson was heavily involved in pioneering a process-led, fixed-fee approach to servicing multinationals globally with Unilever (16 October 2006)  and has a reputation within Bakers as a strong client developer.

He was also instrumental in the establishment of Bakers’ Manila back office team in 2006, which now includes a degree of legal function (mainly IP), the origin of which was the Unilever deal. Bakers now has around 550 people working in its Manila team.

The new plan, which Rawlinson developed along with Bakers’ director of business development and marketing Julia Hayhoe, is about bringing that client development skill set to bear across the London office and further afield.

“When we’re talking to clients they’ll usually have one, two maybe three of these themes that resonate,” said Rawlinson. “We need to get partners thinking in these terms for client discussions. Pricing and project management and we’ve recruited project managers in London and globally. This is about the next level of sophistication of service delivery. It’s no longer just about a partner, associate and PA. We’re getting better and understanding what it is we need. And then managing it.”

The new plan’s launch coincided with the start of a new financial year for Bakers on 1 July and a new term for Rawlinson, who took over from Gary Senior as head of the London office last week (22 January 2013).