Gavin Hayes - Trainee Solicitorposted on 23 Feb
The main aspect that differentiates Baker McKenzie from other big City law firms is the marriage of the high-calibre, complex international work with the collegiate, open-door culture of the Firm. Working in a supportive, friendly environment not only makes it an enjoyable place to work, but also helps you develop as a lawyer.
Down to business
Before my Training Contract began, I undertook an International Vacation Scheme at Baker McKenzie. That involved four weeks in the London office and six weeks in the Hong Kong office. It was an invaluable experience and truly demonstrated the Firm’s international nature. Then, in my first week in the EU, Competition & Trade Department, I got fully involved in a major European Commission investigation. There was a small team on the case and as the only Trainee I was really encouraged to take full ownership of the project. I had direct exposure to both the client and the European Commission right at the beginning of my seat. I felt that I was a key member of the team and was given exposure to high-level work at a very early stage. Although it was slightly daunting at first, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and really built my confidence in the department.
It is not the strict and old-fashioned environment that some may picture when you think of a big City law firm. There is a genuine open-door policy and you can approach everybody, at whatever level, for advice. There is a great social and extra-curricular aspect to the Firm and the relatively modest number of Trainees means that we are all very close. Due to the small intake sizes, trainees are given a lot of responsibility and encouraged to deal with clients at an early stage. You will typically be the sole trainee on a particular project, which grants you a level of ownership you do not see at other firms where you have to fight to be noticed. Being exposed to this level of work in a supportive environment allows you to really develop professionally.
Out of hours
There are loads of social events throughout the year ranging from department drinks, Trainee curry nights and the frequent impromptu visit to the local pub. The highlight is probably the Christmas party as it is a great way of getting the entire office together and the famous Trainee Revue gives the Trainees the opportunity to poke fun at the Partners! The Vacation Scheme socials, which range from karaoke to cookery school, and rooftop drinks are a great opportunity to meet potential future Trainees in a relaxed setting. And when I’m out of the office I spend much of my time working on my encyclopaedic film knowledge – watching films and reading up on the latest news on sites such as AV Club.
Pearls of wisdom
Be engaged and enthusiastic - the Firm is looking for people who enjoy tackling difficult legal questions and complex scenarios. And remember to really research Baker McKenzie and what makes it unique from other big City law firms: it'll help make your application stand out and demonstrate that you are excited by the prospect of working here. Baker McKenzie is looking for well-rounded and approachable individuals who thrive in working in a collaborative environment.