Baker & McKenzie

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Baker & McKenzie
Baker McKenzie logo.svg
Headquarters Chicago[1]
No. of offices 77 [2]
No. of attorneys > 4,600[3]
No. of employees > 13,000
Major practice areas Corporate law
Key people Paul Rawlinson
(Chairman of the Executive Committee)
Revenue US$2.62 billion (FY 16)[4]

Baker & McKenzie, founded in 1949, is a multinational law firm. As of August 2016, it is ranked as the second-largest international law firm in the world by headcount [5] with 12,100 employees including 6,100 fee earners and 4,600 lawyers on a full-time equivalent basis in 77 offices across 47 countries.[2] It is also ranked as the second largest law firm in the world in terms of revenue with US$2.62 billion in annual revenue in FY2016.[6]

Baker & McKenzie is ranked as one of the top five international law firms in the majority of countries where it has an established practice. Clients prize Baker & McKenzie for its breadth of access to markets, as it can individually guide cross-border transactions without using external local counsel.[neutrality is disputed] In 2014, Baker & McKenzie opened offices in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Brisbane, Australia; and Yangon, Myanmar as well as a second global services center in Belfast,[7] Northern Ireland. In April 2015, Baker & McKenzie announced it was the first international law firm to enter into a joint operation in the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone with the PRC law firm FenXun Partners.[8]

The Firm’s current Chairman is former London Managing Partner Paul Rawlinson, who is the 15th Chairman of Baker & McKenzie and the first British Chairman of the Firm. Paul joined the firm in 1986, focusing on intellectual property and made partner in 1996. Educated in the UK and France, Paul has advised international clients with extensive IP portfolios on protection and enforcement, and has vast experience in trade mark, trade secret, copyright, design and technology issues.

Paul has been the global relationship partner for a range of international clients, which gives him a broad exposure to the changing needs of general counsels and company boards worldwide. He is a member of several business organizations, including the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, Business Alliance Against Counterfeiting and Anti-Piracy, French Trade Mark & Design Association, the International Trademark Association. Paul served on the Firm's Policy Committee and also led the Firm's Global Intellectual Property practice group from 2004 to 2010.

Paul succeeded Eduardo C. Leite who served as a Co-Chair of the 2015 World Economic Forum on Latin America, Riviera Maya, Mexico which ran from May 6 to May 8.[9] Leite became the first member of a law firm to be appointed to the US-Brazil CEO Forum in 2013 and in September 2015, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced him as the new chair of the US section of this forum, leading efforts in strengthening commercial ties between the two countries.[10]


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.[11] 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 $400 million in revenues.

1999 to present[edit]

Baker & McKenzie's New York office is located at 452 Fifth Avenue

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;[12] she was chairperson for five years. In 2004, Forbes listed Lagarde as No. 76 in its list of "Most Powerful Women in the World."[13] 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.[14]

In 2001 the firm employed 3000 attorneys and had $1 billion in revenues.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18]

Since 2009, Baker & McKenzie has opened offices in locations including Abu Dhabi,[19] Luxembourg,[20] Turkey,[21] Johannesburg, South Africa,[22] Morocco,[23] Peru,[24] South Korea,[25] Dubai,[26] Qatar, Myanmar, Brisbane Australia and Jeddah Saudi Arabia.

Transactional focus[edit]

Multi-jurisdictional transactions Baker & McKenzie has advised on in recent years include:

  • Sysco announced in February 2016 that it had reached a definitive agreement to acquire the Brakes Group from Bain Capital Private Equity. Goldman Sachs International and Baker & McKenzie acted as financial and legal advisers, respectively, to Bain Capital Private Equity and Brakes Group.[27]
  • Baker & McKenzie was assigned with the task of coordinating economic transformation in Sri Lanka as it looked to gearing up for a significant economic transformation amidst a global economic slowdown and the ripple effect of ‘Brexit’ on the global economy.[28]
  • Baker & McKenzie advised Emerson Electric Co. in deals which focussed on selling its network infrastructure, motor and power generation business units for a total of $5.2 billion.[29]
  • Dai-Ichi Life Insurance on its $5.7 billion acquisition of New York Stock Exchange-listed Protective Life Corporation. The largest ever acquisition of a foreign firm by a Japanese life insurance company.[30]
  • The $638 million acquisition of the largest retail pharmacy chains in Mexico and Chile by Alliance Boots - its first major step into Latin America.[31]
  • Spain's state bank rescue fund FROB on the sale of $8.7 billion of mortgages from CatalunyaCaixa to Blackstone and subsequent $1.62 billion sale of the bank to BBVA.[32]
  • CITIC Metal, a member of the Chinese consortium which acquired Glencore Xstrata's interest in the $5.85 billion Las Bambas Copper Project in Peru.[33]
  • 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.[34]

Pioneer on Climate Change Law[edit]

Baker & McKenzie is considered a global pioneer in global climate change law, establishing a practice in this area earlier than any other global law firm. The Firm commenced its climate change practice 1998, and it is today regarded as one of the leading global practices on matters related to climate change law and policy advice, with clients including multilateral development banks, Fortune 500 companies, global not-for-profits and others.[35] In October 2016, Baker & McKenzie was the first law firm to join the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) and commit to supporting clients in advancing carbon pricing policies worldwide and sharing best practice. A private-public partnership among the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), governments, nonprofits, and private sector companies, the initiative aims to develop a global network for sharing best practice.

Notable cases tried[edit]

Baker & McKenzie is currently representing Facebook Inc. in its dispute with the IRS over the value of assets the company transferred to its Irish holding company. Lawyers with the U.S. Department of Justice asked for a court order forcing Facebook to provide information to the IRS related to agreements between the company and the holding company, Facebook Ireland Holdings.[36]

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.[37] 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.[38]

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.[39][40]

Baker & McKenzie is representing Microsoft in Microsoft Corporation v. Internal Revenue Service [41]

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.[42] 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).[43] 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.[44] 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.[45] 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.[46] 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.[47] 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).[48]

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.[49]

Baker & McKenzie is one of the first law firms to have adopted a functional outsourcing operation, which is now being emulated by other firms.[50] Its offshore operations in Manila, which include marketing, business research, and IT and computer maintenance support, was profiled in January 2006 by BusinessWeek magazine.[51] The shared services center marked its 15th anniversary in the country by investing in a new hub in Bonifacio Global City.[52] In August 2014, the Firm opened its second global services centre in Belfast.[53]

Since 2007, the firm has supported the Rijksmuseum to expand its international photography collection spanning the late nineteenth century to 1980. The American photography is especially present in the collection. The photographs are taken by prominent photographers, such as Lewis Hine, Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, László Moholy-Nagy, Lartique, Brassaï, Bill Brandt, Robert Capa and Man Ray. They have played a major role in determining the appearance of the new epoch.[54]

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" [55] 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.[56]

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.[57] In April 2015 Baker & McKenzie and Beijing-based FenXun Partners won approval for the first joint office in the Shanghai free trade zone that advises clients on both international and Chinese law.[58]

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.[59] The Firm has also launched a Global Equity Matrix App, the Healthcare MapApp and the Antitrust Dawn Raid App.

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.[60]

In January 2014, Baker & McKenzie was second in the legal sector and 19th overall in Stonewall's top 100 most gay-friendly employers.[61] In January 2016, Baker & McKenzie was named third UK employer for LGBT staff according to Stonewall's Workplace Equality Index.[62]

In 2015, Baker & McKenzie ranked in the top 20 for The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to work for.[63]

In July 2016 Working Mother magazine identified the 50 best law firms for women in the UK. Baker & McKenzie was included for its Global Gender Initiative which boosts women through a 12-month training program.[64]


Baker & McKenzie is organized as a Swiss Verein which allows regional profit pools and their related tax, accounting and partner compensation systems to remain separate while allowing strategy, branding, information technology and other core functions to be shared between the constituent partnerships.[65] Baker & McKenzie is the only Verein that used to be a single partnership. All of the other Vereins were created by firms merging.[66]

Practice Groups and Industry Groups[edit]

Baker & McKenzie's Practice Groups:

  • Antitrust & Competition
  • Banking & Finance
  • Capital Markets
  • Compliance & Investigations
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Employment
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Information Technology & Communications
  • Intellectual Property
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Private Equity
  • Real Estate
  • Restructuring & Insolvency
  • Tax
  • Trade & Commerce

Baker & McKenzie's Industry Groups:

  • Automotive
  • Consumer Goods & Retail
  • Energy, Mining and Infrastructure
  • Financial Institutions
  • Healthcare
  • Hotels, Resorts and Tourism
  • Private Equity
  • Real Estate
  • Technology, Media & Telecommunications


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  2. ^ a b "Firm Facts". Baker & McKenzie. Retrieved 9 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "Firm Profile". Baker & McKenzie. Archived from the original on 8 January 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2015. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Wall Street Journal 22 Aug 2016
  6. ^ - News, Publications & Events - Baker & McKenzie - News, Publications & Events - Baker & McKenzie Check |url= value (help).  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ NI, Invest. "World's Largest Law Firm Baker and McKenzie Announces 256 Jobs in Belfast". 
  8. ^ Tan, Andrea (April 15, 2015). "Baker & McKenzie, FenXun Win Approval for Shanghai Law Venture". Bloomberg. 
  9. ^ "World Economic Forum on Latin America 2015". 
  10. ^ "U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Appoints New Chair Of U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum". 2 September 2015. 
  11. ^ "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. 
  12. ^ Petersen, Melody (October 9, 1999). "Her Partners Can Call Her Ms. Chairman; Baker & McKenzie Takes Small Step for a Law Firm, Giant Leap for Womankind". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2016. 
  13. ^ MacDonald, Elizabeth (August 20, 2004). "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Press Release: IMF Executive Board Selects Christine Lagarde as Managing Director". International Monetary Fund. June 28, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Firm History". Baker & McKenzie. 2014. Archived from the original on June 15, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Managing the world's largest trademark portfolio". Baker & McKenzie. 2014. Archived from the original on October 17, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  17. ^ Qualters, Sheri (September 13, 2007). "Skadden tops list of corporate counsel's go-to firms". Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  18. ^ "The Master Strategists". The American Lawyer. August 13, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Baker & McKenzie to open in Abu Dhabi". The Lawyer. October 30, 2008. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Baker & McKenzie Opens New Office in Luxembourg". Baker & McKenzie. October 1, 2010. Archived from the original on October 17, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  21. ^ Kriegler, Yun (October 27, 2011). "Baker & McKenzie signs up to exclusive Turkish alliance with Esin". The Lawyer. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  22. ^ Burton, Lucy (May 29, 2012). "Baker & McKenzie launches Johannesburg base with Dewey team". The Lawyer. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Bakers follows UK firms into Morocco with Casablanca launch". Legalweek. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  24. ^ Amon, Elizabeth (8 May 2013). "Shearman Kuwait Deal, Baker & McKenzie: Business of Law". Bloomberg. 
  25. ^ Sarfo, Ama (May 7, 2013). "Baker & McKenzie Joins Foreign Firm Boom In S. Korea". Law360. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  26. ^ 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. 
  27. ^ "M & A Navigator - Latest News". Retrieved 2016-10-06. 
  28. ^ "Sri Lanka gears up for economic transformation with McKenzie | The Sunday Times Sri Lanka". Retrieved 2016-10-06. 
  29. ^ "Emerson Electric Scores $5.2B With Biz Unit Sales - Law360". Retrieved 2016-10-06. 
  30. ^ "Baker & McKenzie Advises The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company On Its Acquisition Of Protective Life Corporation. - Conventus Law". 
  31. ^ "Legal Week - Bakers on hand as Alliance Boots expands into Latin America". 
  32. ^ "Blackstone Nabs $8.7B Mortgage Portfolio After Record Q2 - Law360". 
  33. ^ Binham, Caroline; Correspondent, Legal (11 August 2014). "Baker & McKenzie becomes world's biggest law firm" – via Financial Times. 
  34. ^ "BTA Bank restructuring -". 
  35. ^ "Climate Change - Services - Baker & McKenzie". 
  36. ^ "Facebook Turns to Baker & McKenzie to Fight IRS Probe". Retrieved 2016-10-06. 
  37. ^ "Baker McKenzie". COPAA. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008. 
  38. ^ "Pro Bono Supreme Court". Baker & McKenzie. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008. 
  39. ^ Letzing, John (December 10, 2009). "Symantec wins $545 million opinion in tax case". MarketWatch. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  40. ^ "U.S. Tax Court Rules in Favor of Symantec". Symantec. December 14, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Lawyer With AIDS Charges Job Discrimination". Reuters. 15 July 1987 – via The New York Times. 
  43. ^ "Philadelphia' Screenplay Suit To Reach Court". The New York Times. 11 March 1996. 
  44. ^ The Baker & McKenzie Sexual Discrimination Case, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.
  45. ^ Sexual Harassment Laws: How a Six Million Dollar Man Became a Six Million Dollar Liability, The Payroll Factory. Archived February 5, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  46. ^ Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie, 63 Cal. App. 4th 1128 (1998).
  47. ^ Chambers v. Kay, 29 Cal. 4th 142 (2002).
  48. ^ See State Bar of California public record for Martin Richard Greenstein, State Bar Number 106789.
  49. ^ Ketchup Trousers, Also in 2005 Heidi Gritt was employed.
  50. ^ Balakrishnan, Angela (27 October 2006). "Clifford Chance moves admin work to India". 
  51. ^ Online Extra: The Cost-Killer in Manila,
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^ Villarreal, Ignacio. "Rijksmuseum Exhibits Recently Acquired Masterpieces of 20th-Century Photography". 
  55. ^ Bowcott, Owen (27 July 2012). "Twitter joke trial: Paul Chambers wins high court appeal against conviction". 
  56. ^ "Robin Hood Airport tweet bomb joke man wins case - BBC News". 
  57. ^ "Baker & McKenzie enters Peru via tie-up with local firm Estudio Echecopar - The Lawyer - Legal News and Jobs - Advancing the business of law". 
  58. ^
  59. ^ "Baker & McKenzie launches cross-border listings app for Apple devices". 
  60. ^ "ASEAN" (PDF). 
  61. ^ "Law firms make up 10 per cent of Stonewall top 100 - The Lawyer - Legal News and Jobs - Advancing the business of law". 
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^ "Enter Swiss Verein 2012" (PDF). 
  66. ^ "Baker & McKenzie Eyes Africa As Next Great Expansion Opportunity". 

External links[edit]