|No. of offices||77 |
|No. of attorneys||> 4,600|
|No. of employees||> 13,000|
|Major practice areas||Corporate law|
|Key people||Paul Rawlinson,
|Revenue||US$2.62 billion (FY 16)|
Baker McKenzie, founded as Baker & McKenzie in 1949, is a multinational law firm. As of August 2016[update], it is ranked as the second-largest international law firm in the world by headcount  with 13,000 employees including 6,045 fee earners and 4,600 lawyers on a full-time equivalent basis in 77 offices across 47 countries. 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. It is the largest international law firm in Asia Pacific, Continental Europe and Latin America. In December 2016 and as part of a major visual identity change, Baker & McKenzie re-branded and dropped the '&' from its name to become Baker McKenzie.
The firm’s current global chair is former London managing partner Paul Rawlinson, who is the 15th chair of Baker McKenzie and the first British chair. Rawlinson succeeded Eduardo C. Leite who was chair of Baker McKenzie from 2010 to 2016.
Origins and international growth
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. By 1990 the firm operated 49 offices on six continents, employing around 1500 attorneys generating $400 million in revenues.
In 1993 the Firm received licence number 001 to practice in the PRC.
In 2001, the Firm employed 3000 attorneys and had $1 billion in revenues. 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.
Baker McKenzie is one of the first law firms to have adopted a functional outsourcing operation, which is now being emulated by other firms. Its offshore operations in Manila, which include marketing, business research, and IT and computer maintenance support, was profiled in January 2006 by BusinessWeek magazine. The shared services center marked its 15th anniversary in the country by investing in a new hub in Bonifacio Global City. In August 2014, the Firm opened its second global services centre in Belfast.
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. 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.
In August 2014 Baker McKenzie revealed it was the first law firm to break through the $2.5bn revenues barrier since the financial crisis and it was the largest firm in the world by headcount.
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. This historic move enables the firm to provide Chinese and multinationals operating in China with aligned international and PRC legal services on Corporate Finance, M&A, Reorganizations, FDI into China, Antitrust, Employment, Intellectual Property, and Securities offerings, listings and IPOs.
Diversity and inclusion
In 1999, Christine Lagarde, the Paris managing partner and an antitrust and labor lawyer, was elected chair of the global executive committee, the first woman to lead Baker McKenzie; she was chair for five years. In 2004, Forbes listed Lagarde as No. 76 in its list of "Most Powerful Women in the World." 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.
Globally (as of FY16), 40 percent of the firm's lawyers, 30 percent of its partners, and 19 percent of its leaders, are women and it continues to partner with organizations such as the 30% Club, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Women for Women International, and The NEXUS Institute.
Since 2009, Baker McKenzie has opened offices in locations including Abu Dhabi, Luxembourg, Turkey, Johannesburg, South Africa, Morocco, Peru, South Korea, Dubai, Qatar, Myanmar, Brisbane Australia and Jeddah Saudi Arabia.
Marketing and thought leadership
Since 2007, the firm has supported the Rijksmuseum to expand its international photography collection spanning the late nineteenth century to 1980.
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. 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. In April 2016, an updated report was published entitled ASEAN Connections: How mega-regional trade and investment initiatives in Asia will shape business strategy in ASEAN and beyond.
In March 2015, Baker McKenzie produced its China FDI report, 'Reaching New Heights', with specialist data research company Rhodium Group, which for the first time revealed the true story of Chinese investment into the EU over the past decade. It was the first comprehensive and reliable picture of Chinese investments in the EU-28 countries from 2000 to 2014, broken down by country and sector. The report was again published in March 2016 entitled ‘Bird's-Eye View: Chinese Investment into Europe and North America’.
Each year Baker McKenzie produces its Global Transactions Forecast which projects M&A and IPO activity and provides key findings at a global, regional and sector level.
Baker McKenzie's sixth annual Doing Business Globally seminar series is a highly rated, complimentary program which unites senior business executives, in-house counsel and Baker McKenzie practitioners from around the world. The series gives participants the opportunity to gain insight from global industry leaders, senior executives and interact with a global team of panelists who will present their views on industry and market developments, as well as the future of doing business globally and the associated opportunities and risks for multinationals.
Awards and rankings
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.
In January 2014, Baker McKenzie was second in the legal sector and 19th overall in Stonewall's top 100 most gay-friendly employers. In January 2016, Baker McKenzie was named third UK employer for LGBT staff according to Stonewall's Workplace Equality Index.
In 2015, Baker McKenzie ranked in the top 20 for The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to work for.
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.
For the last seven years Thomson Reuters has ranked Baker McKenzie number one in the world by number of cross-border deals - more than 65% of the Firm's deals are cross-border - and for the eleventh year in a row the Firm was ranked first for deals with emerging market involvement, by both number of announced and completed number of deals.
In October 2016, Baker McKenzie was again named the world's strongest global law firm brand in the 2016 Acritas’ Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index. The Firm ranked top for each of the measures that comprise the Index – awareness, favorability, consideration for multi-jurisdictional deals and for multi-jurisdictional litigation -- and once more, widened its lead over its nearest competitor. Lisa Hart Shepherd CEO of Acritas said: "Baker McKenzie continues to set the global standard when it comes to branding in the legal industry. The firm's long-term strategy in building a global legal services proposition that resonates well with clients across the world, pays dividends year after year."
Baker McKenzie is one of only three global law firms that featured in the top 10 Financial Times Innovative Lawyers rankings in the Americas, Asia Pacific and EMEA in 2016.
Notable matters and transactions
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. 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.
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.
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"  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.
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.
In 2016, Baker McKenzie advised on some of the world’s most important deals and cases, including:
- Japan-based Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company on its acquisition of US-based StanCorp Financial Group for $5 billion.
- Morocco's €3.7 billion "Merger of the Decade": advising pan-African investment fund SNI on its combination with LafargeHolcim to produce LafargeHolcim Maroc, the largest industrial company listed in Morocco and the second-largest cement-manufacturer in Africa.
- Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwan electronics manufacturer on its $3.46 billion investment for a 66% stake in Japanese consumer electronics company Sharp Corporation; the first acquisition of a major Japanese electronics manufacturer by a foreign company.
- Daimler on its €1.1 billion acquisition of Athlon Car Lease International, quadrupling its lease portfolio. The deal involved lawyers from 15 Baker McKenzie offices working to significantly strengthen the Mercedes-Benz owner's market position in the car leasing business.
- Altera Corp in its closely watched challenge to an IRS final rule requiring that cost-sharing agreements include the costs of stock-based compensation.
- Leading private equity firm Bain Capital on its sale of food services supplier Brakes Group to Sysco Corp, North America's foremost food service distributor, for an enterprise value of $3.1 billion. The complex cross-border deal involved lawyers from the UK, US, France, Sweden, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg.
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. 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). 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. 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. 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. 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. 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).
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.
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. Baker McKenzie is the only Verein that used to be a single partnership. All of the other Vereins were created by firms merging.
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- Wall Street Journal 22 Aug 2016
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- "Paul Rawlinson named chair of Baker and McKenzie and other legal moves and grooves for June 13". www.financialpost.com. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
- "Baker & McKenzie chooses London partner as new chairman". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
- "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.
- "Firm History". Baker & McKenzie. 2014. Archived from the original on June 15, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- "First Up -B&MGSM Gabriel Pardo Interview.mp4". Bloomberg TV.
- http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/one-of-worlds-largest-law-firms-to-open-belfast-office-baker-mckenzie-create-250-new-jobs-30541434.html. Retrieved August 27, 2014. Missing or empty
- "Managing the world's largest trademark portfolio". Baker & McKenzie. 2014. Archived from the original on October 17, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- "The Master Strategists". The American Lawyer. August 13, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- "Subscribe to read". www.ft.com.
- "Baker & McKenzie seals Chinese tie-up to provide local law advice". LegalWeek.com.
- 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.
- MacDonald, Elizabeth (August 20, 2004). "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- "Press Release: IMF Executive Board Selects Christine Lagarde as Managing Director". International Monetary Fund. June 28, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- "Baker & McKenzie to open in Abu Dhabi". The Lawyer. October 30, 2008. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- "Baker & McKenzie Opens New Office in Luxembourg". Baker & McKenzie. October 1, 2010. Archived from the original on October 17, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- Kriegler, Yun (October 27, 2011). "Baker & McKenzie signs up to exclusive Turkish alliance with Esin". The Lawyer. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- Burton, Lucy (May 29, 2012). "Baker & McKenzie launches Johannesburg base with Dewey team". The Lawyer. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- "Bakers follows UK firms into Morocco with Casablanca launch". Legalweek. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- Amon, Elizabeth (8 May 2013). "Shearman Kuwait Deal, Baker & McKenzie: Business of Law". Bloomberg.
- Sarfo, Ama (May 7, 2013). "Baker & McKenzie Joins Foreign Firm Boom In S. Korea". Law360. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- 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.
- "ASEAN Connections: What is Shaping Business Strategy in the Region? | Insight | Baker McKenzie". Baker McKenzie.
- "Subscribe to read". www.ft.com.
- Barnato, Katy (24 July 2016). "Brexit will cost UK up to $340 billion in lost M&A: Study". CNBC.
- "DBG Insights". DBG Insights.
- "Stonewall announces top global employers". Stonewall. 21 January 2016.
- "The 2016 Working Mother & Flex-Time Lawyers 50 Best Law Firms for Women". Working Mother.
- "Baker McKenzie Announces Global Revenues of US$2.62 billion | Newsroom | Baker McKenzie". Baker McKenzie.
- "The latest news from Acritas | Acritas". www.acritas.com.
- "Baker & McKenzie Honored at Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Awards | Newsroom | Baker McKenzie". Baker McKenzie.
- "Baker McKenzie". COPAA. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008.
- "Pro Bono Supreme Court". Baker & McKenzie. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008.
- Letzing, John (December 10, 2009). "Symantec wins $545 million opinion in tax case". MarketWatch. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- "U.S. Tax Court Rules in Favor of Symantec". Symantec. December 14, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- "MICROSOFT CORPORATION v. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE".
- Bowcott, Owen (27 July 2012). "Twitter joke trial: Paul Chambers wins high court appeal against conviction".
- "Robin Hood Airport tweet bomb joke man wins case - BBC News".
- "Lawyer With AIDS Charges Job Discrimination". Reuters. 15 July 1987 – via The New York Times.
- "Philadelphia' Screenplay Suit To Reach Court". The New York Times. 11 March 1996.
- The Baker & McKenzie Sexual Discrimination Case, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.
- 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.
- Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie, 63 Cal. App. 4th 1128 (1998).
- Chambers v. Kay, 29 Cal. 4th 142 (2002).
- See State Bar of California public record for Martin Richard Greenstein, State Bar Number 106789.
- Ketchup Trousers, Snopes.com. Also in 2005 Heidi Gritt was employed.
- "Enter Swiss Verein 2012" (PDF). edge.ai.
- "Baker & McKenzie Eyes Africa As Next Great Expansion Opportunity".