Baker McKenzie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Baker McKenzie
Baker McKenzie logo (2016).svg
HeadquartersChicago, Illinois
No. of offices77[1]
No. of attorneys> 4,809 [2]
No. of employees> 13,000
Major practice areasCorporate law
Key peopleMilton W. M. Cheng, Global Chair
RevenueUS$2.92 billion (2019)[3]
Date founded1949

Baker McKenzie is a multinational law firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1949 as Baker & McKenzie, it has 77 offices in 46 countries, and over 6,000 lawyers worldwide. It is one of the largest law firms in the world by headcount and revenue.[4][5]

Since 2010, Baker McKenzie has been recognized as the top law firm in the world for multinational M&As.[6][7] In 2019, Baker McKenzie achieved a record revenue of US$2.92 billion, an increase in revenue of 40% since 2010.[8]

Baker McKenzie is a general practice law firm, covering the practice areas of Antitrust & Competition, Banking & Finance, Capital Markets, Compliance & Investigations, Data & Technology, Dispute Resolution, Employment & Compensation, Environment & Climate Change, Intellectual Property, International Commercial & Trade, Mergers & Acquisitions, Private Equity, Projects, Real Estate, Restructuring & Insolvency, and Tax.[9]


Co-founding partner Russell Baker, born in Wisconsin and raised in New Mexico, opened his early practice, Baker & Simpson, in Chicago in 1925, following graduation from the University of Chicago Law School. 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, who took charge of the litigation practice, as Baker built an international practice. Through the 1950s, the firm's client roster expanded.

In 2001, the firm employed 3,000 attorneys and garnered $1 billion in revenues.[10] In 2005, 70 partners, and other legal staff, from the New York office of disbanding international firm Coudert Brothers joined Baker McKenzie.

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 that it was the largest firm in the world by headcount.[11]

The firm's global chair, from 2016, until his death in April 2019, was former London managing partner Paul Rawlinson, who was the 15th chair, and the first British chair of the firm.[12] Rawlinson had succeeded Eduardo C. Leite who was chair of Baker McKenzie from 2010 to 2016.[13] In September 2019 the Firm announced that Milton Cheng had been elected as the global chair for four years, commenced October 2019.

International growth[edit]

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. 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 and Eastern Europe after the Iron Curtain fell.[14] By 1990, the firm operated 49 offices on six continents, employing around 1500 attorneys, and generating $400 million in revenues.

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.[15] In August 2014, the firm opened its second global services center in Belfast.[16] A further investment by Baker McKenzie into Belfast was announced in July 2018.[17] Announcements followed later the same year about a third center [18] in Tampa, Florida and a fourth in Buenos Aires in 2019.[19]

In October 2006, Unilever chose the firm to manage its global trademark portfolio, the largest in the world, with over 160,000 registrations, marking the first time a multinational company outsourced its trademark management to a law firm on such a large scale.[20] 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 BigLaw.[21]

In April 2015, Baker McKenzie announced it was the first international law firm to enter into a joint operation in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone with the PRC law firm FenXun Partners.[22]

The firm, in 2018, implemented financial integration in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa region (EMEA), similar to its programs in North America and Asia Pacific. Baker McKenzie's Amsterdam, Antwerp, Bahrain, Barcelona, Brussels, Doha, ECLP, Jeddah, Johannesburg, London, Madrid, Riyadh and Stockholm branches have been financially integrated, as part of a long-term strategy to group the firm's 77 offices into three profit centers. The initiative, known as EMEA+, is led by partner Fiona Carlin.[23]

Diversity and inclusion[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 chair of the global executive committee, the first woman to lead Baker McKenzie;[24] she was chair for five years. In 2004, Forbes listed Lagarde as No. 76 in its list of "Most Powerful Women in the World."[25] 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.[26]

Marketing and strategy[edit]

Since 2007, the firm has supported the Rijksmuseum to expand its international photography collection spanning the late nineteenth century to 1980.[27]

Since February 2013, Baker McKenzie has worked closely with the Economist Corporate Network part of the Economist Group on a series of reports on Asia including in April 2016, "ASEAN Connections: How mega-regional trade and investment initiatives in Asia will shape business strategy in ASEAN and beyond".[28] More recently two reports have been produced on BRI, exploring how China is taking steps to reboot its approach to BRI projects with the goal to increase international participation and encouraging a multilateral approach that is more inclusive, sustainable and transparent.[29]

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. As of May 2020 the report continues to be published on a six monthly basis and receive extensive media coverage.[30][31]

Each year Baker McKenzie produces its Global Transactions Forecast with Oxford Economics which projects M&A and IPO activity and provides key findings at a global, regional and sector level.[32] In April 2020 BM and OE released a new report 'Beyond COVID 19: Supply Chain Resilience Holds Key to Recovery' which highlighted manufacturing output will take at least 12 months to recover to 2019 levels.[33]


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.[34]

As of August 2018, it is ranked as the second-largest international law firm in the world by headcount[35] with 13,000 employees including 6,076 fee earners and 4,700 lawyers on a full-time equivalent basis in 78 offices across 47 countries.[36] It is the largest law firm in the United States by headcount. It is also ranked as the third largest law firm in the world in terms of revenue with US$2.89 billion [3] in annual revenue in FY2018. 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.[citation needed]

Notable matters and transactions[edit]

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 court decided in favor of Symantec.[39][40]

Baker McKenzie represented Microsoft in Microsoft Corporation v. Internal Revenue Service[41]

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"[42] 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.[43]

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.[44] 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 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.[45] 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).[46] 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."[citation needed]

In 1994, in a seminal case, a legal secretary, Rena Weeks, successfully sued the law firm for sexual harassment.[47] 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.[48] 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.[49] 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.[50] 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).[51]

In 2021, the law firm was listed in the Pandora Papers after the law firm conducted offshoring activities for organizations outside of the United States. One of the actions include setting up shell companies in Cyprus for RJR Nabisco (which as split up), creating a tax shelter for Nike, as well as moving Facebook's tax headquarters to Ireland, allowing these companies to evade taxes.[52]


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.[53] Baker McKenzie is the only Verein that used to be a single partnership. All of the other Vereins were created by firms merging.[54]


  1. ^; Re/en/newsroom/2018/03/baker-mckenzie-opens-los-angeles-office
  2. ^ "Baker McKenzie".
  3. ^ a b "Baker McKenzie Announces Record Global Revenues of $2.9 Billion | Newsroom | Baker McKenzie". Archived from the original on August 12, 2018.
  4. ^ "The 10 largest law firms in the world". (in British English). Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  5. ^ Seal, Ben (September 24, 2018). "The 2018 Global 100 Ranked by Revenue". The American Lawyer. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  6. ^ Spiezio, Caroline (January 21, 2020). "In Brief: Baker McKenzie again tops Acritas law firm brand index". Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  7. ^ "Annual Report 2019". Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  8. ^ Alan, Thomas (August 29, 2020). "'Satisfied' Baker McKenzie adds $200m to top line but market volatility slows growth to a crawl". Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  9. ^ "About Us | Baker McKenzie". Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  10. ^ "Firm History". Baker & McKenzie. 2014. Archived from the original on June 15, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  11. ^ "Subscribe to read". {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  12. ^ "Paul Rawlinson named chair of Baker and McKenzie and other legal moves and grooves for June 13". Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  13. ^ "Baker & McKenzie chooses London partner as new chairman". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ "First Up -B&MGSM Gabriel Pardo Interview.mp4". Bloomberg TV.
  16. ^ "One of world's largest law firms to open Belfast office: Baker & McKenzie create 250 new jobs". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  17. ^ "Baker McKenzie law firm creates 150 jobs in Belfast". BBC News. July 4, 2018.
  18. ^ "Baker McKenzie Chooses Tampa for Global Center, Set to Create 300+ Jobs | Newsroom | Baker McKenzie". Archived from the original on April 24, 2019.
  19. ^ "Who We Are | BM Global Services Buenos Aires Careers".
  20. ^ "Managing the world's largest trademark portfolio". Baker & McKenzie. 2014. Archived from the original on October 17, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  21. ^ "The Master Strategists". The American Lawyer. August 13, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  22. ^ "Baker & McKenzie seals Chinese tie-up to provide local law advice".
  23. ^ "Baker McKenzie moves to create EMEA profit pool".
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ MacDonald, Elizabeth (August 20, 2004). "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  26. ^ "Press Release: IMF Executive Board Selects Christine Lagarde as Managing Director". International Monetary Fund. June 28, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ "ASEAN Connections: What is Shaping Business Strategy in the Region? | Insight | Baker McKenzie". Baker McKenzie.
  29. ^,[bare URL PDF]
  30. ^ "Subscribe to read". {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  31. ^ Financial Times
  32. ^ CNBC
  33. ^ "Global Supply Chains Under Huge Pressure as COVID-19 Creates 'Manufacturing Deserts' | Newsroom | Baker McKenzie".
  34. ^ "Baker McKenzie Announces Global Revenues of US$2.62 billion | Newsroom | Baker McKenzie". Baker McKenzie. Archived from the original on August 25, 2016. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  35. ^ Wall Street Journal 22 Aug 2016
  36. ^ "Firm Facts".
  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.
  41. ^ "Microsoft Corporation v. Internal Revenue Service".
  42. ^ Bowcott, Owen (July 27, 2012). "Twitter joke trial: Paul Chambers wins high court appeal against conviction".
  43. ^ "Robin Hood Airport tweet bomb joke man wins case - BBC News". BBC News. July 27, 2012.
  44. ^ "Facebook Turns to Baker & McKenzie to Fight IRS Probe".
  45. ^ "Lawyer With AIDS Charges Job Discrimination". The New York Times. Reuters. July 15, 1987.
  46. ^ "Philadelphia' Screenplay Suit To Reach Court". The New York Times. March 11, 1996.
  47. ^ The Baker & McKenzie Sexual Discrimination Case, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.
  48. ^ 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
  49. ^ Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie, 63 Cal. App. 4th 1128 (1998).
  50. ^ Chambers v. Kay, 29 Cal. 4th 142 (2002).
  51. ^ See State Bar of California public record for Martin Richard Greenstein, State Bar Number 106789.
  52. ^ "How America's biggest law firm drives global wealth into tax havens - ICIJ" (in American English). Retrieved October 5, 2021.
  53. ^ "Enter Swiss Verein 2012" (PDF).
  54. ^ "Baker & McKenzie Eyes Africa As Next Great Expansion Opportunity".

External links[edit]