Baker & McKenzie

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Baker & McKenzie
Baker & McKenzie
Headquarters Chicago
No. of offices 77 [1]
No. of attorneys > 4,200
No. of employees > 11,000
Major practice areas Corporate law
Key people Eduardo Leite
(Chairman of the Executive Committee)
Revenue US $2.54 billion (2014)[2]
Company type Swiss Verein

Baker & McKenzie is a global law firm founded in Chicago by Russell Baker (lawyer) and John McKenzie (lawyer) in 1949. It employs over 4,200 lawyers in 77 offices, which are located in 47 countries.[3]

In the fiscal year ending 2014, Baker & McKenzie earned US$2.54 billion in revenue, making it the world's largest by revenues, markets and headcount.[4]

Its current chairman is Eduardo C. Leite, former managing partner of its four offices in Brazil. He is the Firm's first Chairman from Latin America.

In 2014, Baker & McKenzie opened offices in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Brisbane, Australia; and Yangon, Myanmar.


Origins and international growth[edit]

Co-founding partner Russell Baker, born in Wisconsin and raised in New Mexico, opened his early practice Baker & Simpson in Chicago in 1925 upon his graduation from the University of Chicago School of Law. Baker had early exposure to the Spanish language and other cultures, and his firm provided legal services to Chicago's growing Mexican American community. The firm later advised U.S. companies investing in Latin America.

In 1949, the firm relaunched with John McKenzie, a litigator who had graduated from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. McKenzie took charge of the litigation practice, and Baker built an international practice. Through the 1950s, the firm's client roster expanded.

Baker & McKenzie became an international firm beginning in 1955, when a lawyer in Venezuela contacted Baker & McKenzie about opening a joint venture office in Caracas. Russell Baker's son Donald moved to Caracas to launch the satellite office. Within the next three years, offices were opened in Washington, D.C., Amsterdam, Brussels, Zurich, New York and São Paulo. Rather than practicing U.S. law abroad, Baker & McKenzie trained local lawyers, often bringing them to the Chicago base for an initial period or temporarily relocating U.S. attorneys to the foreign office to oversee the establishment of the practice. By 1978 Baker & McKenzie had 26 offices in 20 countries.

In 1986, the firm established offices in Northwestern Mexico to facilitate legal transactions connected to industrial development in that region. In 1989, Baker & McKenzie was one of the first firms to open offices in the former Soviet Union after the Iron Curtain fell.[5] In California, the firm merged with MacDonald, Halsted, and Laybourne to start offices in Los Angeles and San Diego. By 1990 the firm operated 49 offices on six continents, employing around 1500 attorneys generating $4 million in revenues.

1999 to present[edit]

In 1999 Christine Lagarde, the Paris managing partner and an antitrust and labor lawyer, was elected Chairman of the Global Executive Committee, the first woman to lead Baker & McKenzie; she was chairperson for five years. In 2004, Forbes listed Lagarde as No. 76 in its list of “Most Powerful Women in the World."[6] She then served as France’s Minister of Finance. In June 2011, she was elected as the first woman to become Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.[7]

In 2001 the firm employed 3000 attorneys and had $1 billion in revenues.[8] A structure largely unique to large multinational law firms, the Swiss Verein, was pioneered by Baker & McKenzie in 2004, in which multiple national or regional partnerships form an association in which they share branding, administrative functions and various operating costs, but maintain separate revenue pools and often separate partner compensation structures.[9] . In 2005, the firm received a large boost when some 70 partners and other legal staff from the New York office of the disbanding international firm Coudert Brothers joined Baker & McKenzie.

In October 2006, Unilever chose the firm to manage its global trademark portfolio, the largest in the world with over 160,000 registrations. It was the first time a multinational company outsourced its trademark management to a law firm on such a large scale.[10] In September 2007, BTI Consulting rated Baker & McKenzie as one of the world's top 10 transaction law firms in its recent survey on corporate transactions, which was reported by National Law Journal.[11] In July 2013, co-founding partner Russell Baker was named one of American Lawyer’s top 50 innovators for pioneering ideas and initiatives that changed the world of big law.[12]

Since 2009, Baker & McKenzie has opened offices in locations including Abu Dhabi,[13] Luxembourg,[14] Turkey,[15] Johannesburg, South Africa,[16] Morocco,[17] Peru,[18] South Korea,[19] and Dubai.[20]

Transactional focus[edit]

In recent years, Baker & McKenzie has been involved in complex transactions for clients. Recent matters include:

  • The American International Assurance Company, Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIA Group Limited, on the US$1.8 billion acquisition of ING Groep N.V's Malaysian insurance and Takaful business.[21]
  • The Steering Committee of international creditors of BTA Bank JSC in the successful second restructuring of the Kazakhstani bank in relation to US$11.1 billion of its international financial debt and other claims. The deal was the largest Central and Eastern European restructuring of 2012.[22]
  • The Thai Oil Public Company Limited on its offering of US$1 billion dual-tranche senior unsecured fixed-rate notes to foreign institutional investors in accordance with Rule 144A and Regulation S.[23]
  • Endeavour Silver Corporation on its option and joint venture agreement with La Sociedad Quimica Minera de Chile SA (SQM) to earn a 75% interest in the El Inca silver-gold properties.[24]
  • The Kingdom of Bahrain, in relation to its US$1,500,000,000 bond issuance.[25]
  • AXA Private Equity (renamed Ardian in 2013), on its acquisition from the private equity arm of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) of a portfolio of 11 private equity fund investments and the related unfunded commitments.[26]
  • WestLB, regarding a definitive agreement to sell its Subscription Commitment Facilities (SCF) portfolio in the USA and in the UK to the financial services provider Wells Fargo Bank, NA (Wells Fargo).[27]
  • The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) and certain Dow subsidiaries in relation to the US$1.4 billion Islamic finance facilities made available to Saudi Acrylic Acid Company (SAAC), Saudi Acrylic Monomers Company (SAMCO) and Saudi Acrylic Polymers Company (SAPCO).[28]

Notable cases tried[edit]

Baker & McKenzie represented five leading luxury goods and fashion brands in 2005 in an action against the landlord of the infamous Silk Market Shopping mall where counterfeit goods were sold.[29] The Intermediate and Higher People’s Courts both confirmed that the landlord was jointly and severally liable for failing to stop infringements by vendors after being notified of them, making this the first time a landlord is held responsible for the illegal activities of their tenants in the judicial history of China.[30] This case was also recognized as a “Top Ten” case by the Beijing Higher People’s Court.[30]

In 2006, Baker & McKenzie wrote the amicus brief of the Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates (COPAA) in support of the petition for a writ of certiorari in Winkelman v. Parma City School District, and later, COPAA's amicus brief on the merits.[31] It argued that parents have the right to represent themselves in court to enforce their IDEA rights and protect their children's access to a free appropriate public education. This led to a unanimous Supreme Court decision in June 2007 granting parents the right to proceed without counsel on behalf of children with disabilities.[32]

In December 2009, Baker & McKenzie won a landmark tax case against the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for Symantec Corporation. The IRS had claimed that the VERITAS Software Corporation, which Symantec had subsequently acquired in 2005, owed over $1 billion in back taxes, penalties and interest as a result of VERITAS non-U.S. operations. Symantec took the case to the U.S. Tax Court where Baker & McKenzie argued that the IRS position was arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable. In an opinion by Judge Maurice Foley, the U.S. Tax Court decided in favor of Symantec.[33][34]

Baker & McKenzie is representing Microsoft in Microsoft Corporation v. Internal Revenue Service [35]

Awards and rankings[edit]

  • Received top rankings from Chambers Global 2014.[36]
  • Baker & McKenzie Named Tax Law Firm of the Year in 2014.[37]
  • Named Chambers Global Law Firm of the Year for IP in 2014.[38]
  • Cited as the largest and most global antitrust/competition team in the world by The Global Competition Review's GCR 100 14th edition.[39]
  • Recognized as one of UK's Most LGB-Friendly Employers in 2014.[40]
  • Ranked as one of UK's top 25 employers in 2014.[41]
  • Recipient of the Prestigious Achievement Award in 2014.[42]
  • Highest-ranked U.S. law firm by Japanese corporate legal departments in the December 2013 Nihon Keizai Shimbun survey.[43]
  • Named one of the top 25 corporate law firms in America by the Corporate Board Member magazine.[44]
  • Named "Top Law Firm for Diversity" by MultiCultural Law Magazine for the 8th consecutive year.[45]
  • Named Best International Firm for Women in Business Law by Euromoney Asia in 2013[46]
  • Named as Euromoney's Best Firm for Minority Women Lawyers in Australia in 2013[46]
  • Named as Leading Light Law Firm for Pro Bono in Latin America in 2013[47]

In the news[edit]

In 1986, Geoffrey Bowers, then a New York attorney, filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights, charging that he had been fired from his job at the Manhattan branch of Baker & McKenzie law firm after AIDS-related lesions appeared on his face. The firm maintained that he was fired purely for his performance.[48] Two months after testifying at a hearing on the complaint, he died at age 33. The case was resolved in his favor in late December, when Baker & McKenzie was ordered to pay $500,000 to Bowers' estate. It was one of the first AIDS discrimination cases to go to a public hearing. Baker & McKenzie appealed but subsequently withdrew the appeal after they negotiated a confidential settlement in 1995 with Bowers' family forbidding parties from ever discussing the case or the terms of the agreement. These events were one inspiration for the film Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington (the script of which was derived from numerous sources).[49] The film's credits include the following message: "This motion picture was inspired in part by Geoffrey Bowers’ AIDS discrimination lawsuit, the courage and love of the Angius family and the struggles of the many others who, along with their loved ones, have experienced discrimination because of AIDS."

In 1994, in a seminal case, a legal secretary, Rena Weeks, successfully sued the law firm for sexual harassment.[50] The trial court ordered the law firm to pay $6.9 million in punitive damages, making it one of the largest damage awards in history for this type of action.[51] On May 4, 1998, the California Court of Appeal for the First District upheld the trial court's judgment in full, and the Supreme Court of California denied review.[52] A subsequent dispute among Weeks' victorious attorneys as to the division of fees among them (she had signed a contingent fee agreement for 40% of her recovery) did reach the Supreme Court of California in 2002; the court held that the later-associated co-counsel could not recover the full amount he sought because Weeks' attorneys had not obtained her consent to an agreement to split fees among co-counsel from different firms as required by California court rules.[53] Martin R. Greenstein, the partner whose actions resulted in Weeks' successful lawsuit, was given a public reproval by the State Bar of California on March 26, 1998, and for obvious reasons, is no longer with Baker & McKenzie (the Court of Appeal decision noted that he was terminated by the firm in August 1993).[54]

In June 2005, a senior associate in the firm's London office, Richard Phillips, drew a considerable amount of media attention after it was revealed that the highly paid lawyer had been making a determined effort to have a £4 dry cleaning bill paid by a secretary who had accidentally splashed tomato ketchup on his trousers. In an open email, the secretary explained that she had been slow in attending to the matter due to the recent death and funeral of her mother. Before long, the story had been widely circulated throughout the City of London and beyond.[55]

Baker & McKenzie is one of the first law firms to have adopted a functional outsourcing operation, which is now being emulated by other firms.[56] Its offshore operations in Manila, which include marketing, business research, and IT and computer maintenance support, was profiled in January 2006 by BusinessWeek magazine.[57]

In 2012, Baker & McKenzie helped overturn Paul Chambers’ conviction under the Communications Act of 2003 (the Twitter Joke Trial) for tweeting a “message of a menacing character.” Chambers, an accountant, had tweeted a "silly joke" [58] about “blowing up the Robin Hood airport in South Yorkshire.” The team advising on his appeal was led by Preiskel & Co's David Allen Green, John Cooper QC of 25 Bedford Row and Sarah Przybylska of 2 Hare Court. The Baker & McKenzie team, which acted on the case pro bono from 2010, included partners Harry Small, Tom Cassels and Ben Allgrove.[59]

In May 2012, the firm assisted the Rijksmuseum to acquire 150 photographs that expanded its international photography collection, with the addition of technological and aesthetic developments in 20th Century photography, from an art form to a force in modern journalism. It includes works by prominent photographers such as László Moholy-Nagy, Bill Brandt, Robert Capa and Helen Levitt.[60]

Baker & McKenzie became the first international firm to establish a base in Peru via its tie-up with Peruvian law firm Estudio Echecopar in 2012.[61]

In October 2012, Baker & McKenzie launched a cross-border listings app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The first of its kind, the app is an interactive legal tool designed to help professionals users compare and consider global listing options.[62]

In February 2013, Baker & McKenzie and the Economist Corporate Network launched a report, titled Riding the ASEAN elephant: How business is responding to an unusual animal? , which details growth opportunities in the region based on the company strategies of the results of a poll of senior executives from 147 multinational companies operating in ASEAN. The report goes into the plan for an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.[63]

In January 2014, Baker & McKenzie was second in the legal sector and 19th overall in Stonewall’s top 100 most gay-friendly employers.[64]

George M. Clark, Daniel A. Rosen and James M. O’Brien of Baker & McKenzie are representing Microsoft in Microsoft v. Internal Revenue Service.[65]


Baker & McKenzie is organized as a Swiss Verein in which each office is a largely autonomous component of a loose international organization.

North America[edit]

Baker & McKenzie's New York office is located in the W. R. Grace Building.

Latin America[edit]



Middle East & Africa[edit]


Practice areas[edit]

Baker & McKenzie practices in the following areas of law:

  • Antitrust & Competition
  • Automotive
  • Banking & Finance
  • Capital Markets
  • Corporate Compliance
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Employment
  • Energy, Mining & Infrastructure
  • Environmental
  • Financial Institutions
  • Information Technology & Communications
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
  • Private Equity
  • Real Estate
  • Tax
  • Trade & Commerce


  1. ^
  2. ^ Byrne, Matt (August 11, 2014). "Bakers breaks records for revenue and headcount with $2.5bn 2013/14 results". The Lawyer. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "From small beginnings to global giant". Chambers Student Guide 2011. In 1989 it became one of the first international law firms in Moscow. The Soviet government retained the firm to handle what was the largest privatisation in the nation’s history – Volga Automobile Associated Works. 
  6. ^ MacDonald, Elizabeth (August 20, 2004). "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Press Release: IMF Executive Board Selects Christine Lagarde as Managing Director". International Monetary Fund. June 28, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Firm History". Baker & McKenzie. 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  9. ^ Johnson, Chris (7 March 2013). "Vereins: The new structure for global firms". The American Lawyer. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "Managing the world’s largest trademark portfolio". Baker & McKenzie. 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  11. ^ Qualters, Sheri (September 13, 2007). "Skadden tops list of corporate counsel's go-to firms". Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  12. ^ "The Master Strategists". The American Lawyer. August 13, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Baker & McKenzie to open in Abu Dhabi". The Lawyer. October 30, 2008. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Baker & McKenzie Opens New Office in Luxembourg". Baker & McKenzie. October 1, 2010. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  15. ^ Kriegler, Yun (October 27, 2011). "Baker & McKenzie signs up to exclusive Turkish alliance with Esin". The Lawyer. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  16. ^ Burton, Lucy (May 29, 2012). "Baker & McKenzie launches Johannesburg base with Dewey team". The Lawyer. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Bakers follows UK firms into Morocco with Casablanca launch". Legalweek. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  18. ^ Amon, Elizabeth (8 May 2013). "Shearman Kuwait Deal, Baker & McKenzie: Business of Law". Bloomberg. 
  19. ^ Sarfo, Ama (May 7, 2013). "Baker & McKenzie Joins Foreign Firm Boom In S. Korea". Law360. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  20. ^ Huddleston Jr., Tom (April 18, 2013). "Baker & McKenzie Expands Mideast Presence with Addition of 40-Lawyer Firm in UAE". The American Lawyer. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Wong & Partners Advises AIA Group on its Acquisition of ING Groep’s Malaysian Insurance Business". The Asia Chronicles. January 4, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  22. ^ "BTA Bank successfully completed restructuring of financial debt for the amount of $11.1 billion". March 26, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  23. ^ Brennan, Tom (January 28, 2013). "Baker & McKenzie, Latham Advise on $1 Billion Thai Oil Bond Issue". The American Lawyer. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Endeavour Signs Agreement with SQM". Baker & McKenzie. August 9, 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  25. ^ MacFarlane, Isla (August 2, 2012). "Baker & McKenzie advises Bahrain on $1.5 billion bond". CPI Financial. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Baker & McKenzie advises AXA Private Equity on acquisition of portfolio from OMERS". Private Equity Wire. July 9, 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  27. ^ Gruber, Barbara (June 29, 2012). "Baker & McKenzie Advises WestLB AG on a Definitive Agreement to Sell Selected Parts of its Structured Finance Activities to Wells Fargo". Baker & McKenzie. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Baker & McKenzie Advises Dow on Project Financing". U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council. June 18, 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  29. ^ Goldkorn, Jeremy (January 30, 2007). "Silk Street divides and conquers foreign brands". Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  30. ^ a b "LawFuel". The Law News Network. [dead link]
  31. ^ "Baker McKenzie". COPAA. [dead link]
  32. ^ "Pro Bono Supreme Court". Baker & McKenzie. [dead link]
  33. ^ Letzing, John (December 10, 2009). "Symantec wins $545 million opinion in tax case". MarketWatch. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  34. ^ "U.S. Tax Court Rules in Favor of Symantec". Symantec. December 14, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Global Comparison Table - Your Guide to the World’s Best Lawyers". Chambers & Partners. 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Law Firm of the Year Awards". Best Law Firms. 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Chambers Global Awards for Excellence 2014 - Your Guide to the World’s Best Lawyers". Chambers & Partners. 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  39. ^ "GCR - Global Competition Review". Global Competition Review. 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  40. ^ Gannagé-Stewart, Hannah (March 20, 2014). "Stonewall unveils top 20 LGB friendly firms". The Lawyer. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  41. ^ O'Connell, Dominic (2014). "100 Best Companies". The Sunday Times. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  42. ^ "MPF Awards for Management Excellence". Managing Partners' Forum. 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  43. ^ "企業が選ぶ弁護士ランキング 企業法務1位は中村氏". Nihon Keizai Shimbun. December 16, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  44. ^ "Annual Legal Study Ranks Top 25 Law Firms in the United States". FTI Consulting. 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  45. ^ "Top Diversity Rankings for Baker & McKenzie for 8th Consecutive Year". Baker & McKenzie. May 1, 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  46. ^ a b "Asia Women in Business Law Awards 2013: Winners announced". International Financial Law Review. November 20, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  47. ^ "Leading Lights". [dead link]
  48. ^ Lawyer With AIDS Charges Job Discrimination
  49. ^ Philadelphia' Screenplay Suit To Reach Court
  50. ^ The Baker & McKenzie Sexual Discrimination Case, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.
  51. ^ [dead link] Sexual Harassment Laws: How a Six Million Dollar Man Became a Six Million Dollar Liability, The Payroll Factory.
  52. ^ Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie, 63 Cal. App. 4th 1128 (1998).
  53. ^ Chambers v. Kay, 29 Cal. 4th 142 (2002).
  54. ^ See State Bar of California public record for Martin Richard Greenstein, State Bar Number 106789.
  55. ^ Ketchup Trousers, Also in 2005 Heidi Gritt was employed.
  56. ^ [1], The Guardian
  57. ^ Online Extra: The Cost-Killer in Manila,
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^

External links[edit]