On Tuesday 24th November, the Law for All Society hosted Baker McKenzie for an informal social event. Over takeaways, we chatted with four trainees: Jo Lees, Nikki Bradford, Maddie Barrow and Emily Beighton. This event gave us the opportunity to talk to trainees about topics such as the application process, tips for non-law applicants, what a vacation scheme at Baker McKenzie involves, and the best (and worst) aspects of working at Baker McKenzie. In this review, I will touch on some points which were discussed.
All the trainees highlighted the supportive culture at Baker McKenzie. Colleagues are very friendly and welcome, allowing the trainees to be themselves and reducing any imposter syndrome. Diversity and inclusion schemes are very prevalent, whilst the smaller intake relative to other leading firms means that Baker McKenzie can invest in each trainee’s individual development. An open-door policy genuinely exists. Even through Covid-19, partners have made time to have virtual daily catch-ups with the trainees, and all Covid-19 measures have been designed with trainee input.
The trainees suggested that a significant appeal of the firm is its international element: with 77 offices in 46 countries, Baker McKenzie is a truly international firm! One trainee talked about the interesting nature of cross-border transactions: the deal is often rather large, the client is well-known, and trainees get a ‘buzz’ out of the high intensity environment. The global Corporate/M&A team at Baker McKenzie advises on more cross-border transactions than any other law firm. Trainees get the opportunity to do an international secondment (although these turned into virtual secondments during the Covid-19 crisis).
Another interesting aspect of Baker McKenzie is their pro bono work. Trainees now get the opportunity to do a pro bono seat. Major pro bono clients include NSPCC, Save the Children and Cancer Research UK. Recent pro bono news includes Baker McKenzie partnering with international children’s rights organisation, Terre des Hommes, to increase the speed at which children are released from detention around the world during Covid-19. This also shows the international nature of the firm, even when considering pro bono work.
A major element of discussion revolved around the application process. Some of the trainees did an undergraduate law degree, and others did not, whilst some did a vacation scheme and others applied directly for a training contract. This variety of application experiences was reassuring given the array of the LfA members’ backgrounds. For non-lawyers, advice included trying to get some law experience (e.g. open days and virtual experiences) and showing interest in that firm in particular. In terms of translating a vacation scheme into a training contract, trainees suggested that you should be yourself, keep a diary of the work that you’ve done on the vacations scheme, and to re-read your initial application before the interview. Finally, they said to not get too down over rejections; indeed, one of the trainees was initially rejected from Baker McKenzie, but then reapplied with more experience and a better application, and was accepted.
This event was a very useful opportunity to get to know Baker McKenzie, despite not being able to see the trainees in person. By speaking to trainees in particular, we could envisage what we could be doing in just a couple of years at an international law firm. Moreover, because the trainees had gone through the application process just a few years ago, they could offer us valuable advice based on their own recent experiences.