I grew up in Hong Kong and studied Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science. After this, I moved to the US, and did an LLM. Having lived abroad for some time, I knew I would cherish the opportunity to practise law on an international level. The global nature of Baker McKenzie and the diverse range of practice areas the Firm offers therefore attracted me to apply.
During my early years at university, I was not entirely sure whether I wanted to begin my legal career in London or Hong Kong upon graduation. I therefore did internships in both cities to get a feel of the different work environments. Ultimately I decided that I wanted to pursue my career in a law firm in London. The factors were partly personal and partly due to the nature of work. On a personal level, I prefer the lifestyle and pace in London. In terms of the work involved, I value the more international and diverse experiences that I was able to have in London, often being the office coordinating the transactions.
I applied for a direct training contract at Baker McKenzie during my final year at university.
The application involved 4 different stages:
- Online application.
- Online testing.
- Video interview.
- Assessment centre, which consisted of a proof-reading exercise, a group exercise, a Partner interview based on a case study and an Associate interview.
Top tip: if you think you might be interested in pursuing a career in a corporate law firm, attending an open day or insight scheme early on would allow you to get a sense of whether this is for you. It would then be really useful to include these experiences in your application form and interview to highlight your interests in commercial law and in particular how you think Baker McKenzie is a good fit for you.
Life as a Trainee at Baker McKenzie
Starting my Training Contract virtually can be challenging at first, but I was quickly put at ease by how friendly and welcoming everyone was at the Firm. We also had a two-week induction before joining our departments, where we were given plenty of opportunities to meet people around the Firm through virtual networking events.
I have joined Corporate Reorganisations for almost two months now and I am absolutely enjoying my time here. There is a strong emphasis on personal growth and development of Trainees. Questions are always appreciated and I would receive regular feedback from my work providers upon working with them. I have been given a huge amount of responsibility in the projects I am working on, liaising with lawyers in other offices as part of project management and occasionally with clients. The global nature of the Firm and the transactions is unparalleled, and the work I have been given so far has been extremely varied.
Diversity Initiatives at Baker McKenzie
As someone with an international background, I value diversity at the workplace. I believe that people can only flourish and reach their full potential when they are being encouraged to be themselves at work. Baker McKenzie is strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. Various internal diversity networks are in place, including BakerEthnicity, BakerWomen and BakerOpportunity to name a few. I have recently joined BakerEthnicity’s mentoring programme, where I have received a wide range of guidance from my mentors. If you are interested in finding out more about the diversity initiatives at the Firm, I would strongly encourage you to attend one of the specialised Open Days, including Open Days for black future lawyers and allies, Open Days for LGBTQ+ and allies and Open Days focusing on women in law.
Ariel Leung, first-seat Trainee at Baker McKenzie.