Annual Report 2019
Leading global law firm, Baker McKenzie, shares its Annual Report for FY19, highlighting stories from the Firm's clients and people.
FY19 Annual Report
Jaime Trujillo reviews the successes of the past year
The pace of change continued to increase for all of us in FY19. Global economic and geopolitical shifts created new challenges for our clients to navigate — a shifting and often even more complex backdrop for doing business.
We are one of the most geographically diverse professional services firms in the world — both one of our key strengths, and at times a challenge in markets impacted when the US dollar is so strong, as it was this past year.
It is against this backdrop that we report record global revenues of USD 2.92 billion, with revenues up 4.4% on a constant currency basis and our profits up 2% to USD 1 billion.
The fact that our Firm has reached this milestone is thanks to the talent and tenacity of our people — in every region where we operate, we recorded growth.
There have been moments in the past year when the Firm was tested as much as it has been in our 70-year history, but I am extremely proud of how we have come together and dealt with the issues that we have faced. Neither has it been an easy 12 months for the profession as a whole, with softening client demand as a result of geopolitical uncertainty, an increasingly competitive market with new entrants and a declining overall market.
It takes a Firm like ours with an enormous amount of resilience, experience and strong leadership from all our people to be confident to face the challenges ahead.
And that is why our gains were not just measured in dollars, as I hope this report will demonstrate. We invested heavily in nurturing talent, in being even more diverse and inclusive, in strong leadership, in becoming a more efficient, more professional firm — a place where people can thrive and bring their whole self to work. I am particularly proud that this fiscal year, 44% of our lawyers and 26% of our partners are women.
In June we announced that we were taking that a stage further by introducing our new 40:40:20 Global Aspirational Targets, which will ensure that we continue to do everything possible to make sure the Firm is a fair and inclusive place to work and that we create the best environment for all of our people.
What's next on our journey? In this report you'll read about the investments Baker McKenzie continues to make in legal services, the centers of excellence we have opened in lower-cost locations, and more effective partnering with clients, supported by long-term investments in industry, practice and client programs that all have enabled us to show profitable growth and which set us in good stead for the future.
Acting Global Chair
What did FY19 look like in numbers?
Global Results FY19 Factsheet
What does it take to get a USD 11 billion deal done involving 100 jurisdictions?
Billions, hundreds and a quarter
What does it take to get a USD 11 billion deal done involving 100 jurisdictions?
Bringing all of Baker McKenzie’s strengths to bear: people skills, cultural awareness and careful project management
In December 2018, news broke that our client Hitachi would purchase Swiss giant ABB's entire global power grid infrastructure, for USD 11 billion. Spanning 100 jurisdictions, it is the largest-ever acquisition by a Japanese industrial company, and is set to transform the global power industry. It was the deal that no one in the market believed could be pulled off.
Although the deal will not close until 2020, the journey to signing was an extraordinary process, involving approximately a quarter of the Firm. We asked our two deal leads, David Allen and Jannan Crozier, to tell us how they helped the client steer through unexpected — and often unwritten — challenges and ensured that the deal stayed on course.
Q: Why do you think the Firm was chosen by Hitachi to lead this deal?
David: We have been marketing cross-border M&A to Hitachi for a number of years and built credibility as being an obvious candidate to pitch for the deal. Our deal sheet on complex carve-outs is exemplary. We had done a carve-out from the vendor previously and knew how they would think about the deal and plan our game theory around them. Last but not least, we have a platform which is uniquely positioned to lead on a 100-country transaction.
Jannan: Hitachi looked to us to drive all legal aspects of this deal. It was important for the client to get a clear road map to show them where to start with a deal of this magnitude. By using our complexity assessment mapping exercise, we were able to simplify the deal and show the client where they needed to dedicate resources. Uniquely, we could do the whole deal for them, across all practice sectors and geographies.
Q: What made this deal particularly complex and challenging?
Jannan: Of course, any deal of this size involves more than just two parties: Governments, regulators (antitrust, foreign investment), works councils, pension trustees, joint venture parties, shareholders, stock exchanges, the media, and many more in multiple jurisdictions. But in this deal, there were interesting cultural challenges. Our motto in leading deals of any size is to mirror and support the unique culture and decision making of the client, while offering the independent perspective of outside counsel.
In this case, the significance of this transaction to Hitachi meant their deal team was large (a committed team of over 40 Hitachi members came to London for three months). There was a need to balance various different stakeholders in the transaction and to find consensus; similar to a partnership, internal stakeholder opinions and interests must be satisfied before the deal can go forward. This can be complex in an M&A process where you're trying to gain momentum, move quickly and ensure that the client’s interests are forcefully put forth. We made sure to have the right core team — James Heller was the lead associate on the transaction, bringing in his prior experience working with Japanese corporates and partnering closely with our Tokyo colleagues: Aki Takada and Yutaka Kimura from the Tokyo corporate team, and Junya Suzuki, who was based in London on Asia Transactions Team. They were able to liaise with Hitachi in Japanese, and were eyes and ears on the ground, keeping us aligned.
David: You cannot underestimate the cultural differences between a Swiss seller with New York bankers and London lawyers and a Japanese buyer. ABB was under intense shareholder pressure to sell, quickly and at their specific price. They ran the deal like a regular New York auction and we were constantly having to work behind the scenes with the sell side to make them show more cultural awareness to our client. The core team showed incredible team spirit to drive the deal forward even well into the night!
How did project management play a role in keeping the deal on track?
David: Client feedback consistently tells us that we can often improve our internal coordination. As deals become more complex, effective project management becomes more critical to their success, both for clients and for us.
For Hitachi, our Legal Project Manager, Paul Cooper (aka "The Gladiator"), was absolutely essential. He kept the deal team in the loop, ensured the team had everything we needed, and coordinated over 500 lawyers. By taking this on, Paul freed us up to focus on other strategic client issues, allowing us to act as counsel, guide and trusted adviser.
Jannan: We set up a global team and a cross-practice core London team, and communicated constantly even if sometimes the message was only, "We don't know." This worked because of complete support from all over the Firm. Everyone we approached jumped to respond, rolling up their sleeves to offer not just legal advice but thoughtful solutions. There was a real sense of being a team; we never felt we were in the trenches alone.
Deal Leads: David Allen, Jannan Crozier, Akifusa Takada, Yutaka Kimura
Other Partners: Kathy Honeywell, Keith Jones, Gavin Bushell
Associates: James Heller, Junya Suzuki, Nicole Edwards, Anna Scott
Legal Project Manager: Paul Cooper
Homegrown to global
We spoke to some of our offices from around the world about the value of homegrown clients and the opportunities they provide — on home soil and beyond.
In Paris, with Eric Lasry:
Leveraging locally based clients to drive growth, both for the Paris office and the Firm, is something our Paris team is 100% committed to.
The Paris office’s top management is well aware of the value of homegrown clients and this is why partners always strive to improve not only the quality of service we deliver but also the quality of the relationships we create and maintain, remaining close to our clients on a daily basis. A truly global firm with a leading local office is what makes us unique to serve a wide variety of clients from private companies to institutions and multinational corporations operating in various sectors. We are closely connected with leaders in the business community and provide strategic advice based on our deep knowledge of the French market. In doing so, we leverage the Firm’s industry approach and successes across practices and regions. We also focus our efforts on carefully chosen, high-potential, locally headquartered clients, which form part of our key client programs with our measurable objectives.
Overall, France is a very dynamic country with much to offer to foreign companies, but also a country which is home to global market leaders. Having an office in Paris since 1963, as well as a strong brand, gave us the opportunity to grow and secure key clients in the French market. We frequently act as lead counsel for these organizations as a result. Over the last 12 months we have handled more than 10 cross-border transactions each worth in excess of EUR 1 billion for clients across a range of industries, including healthcare, luxury, consumer goods and retail.
At Baker McKenzie Paris, we want clients to succeed in an increasingly complex globalized marketplace. This comes from our great lawyers, and our continuing drive to develop locally innovative solutions, providing all our team members, from associates to partners, with the requisite knowledge and technological tools to be more effective and focus on high-value services. On 9 July, the Paris office hosted an Innovation Bar where over 100+ lawyers and business professionals contributed to our ongoing collective efforts in this regard to better serve our clients and be
The New Lawyers.
Across Asia Pacific, in conversation with Munir Abdul Aziz
Through the Firm's carefully designed client programs, success stories have emerged from developing economies which we have a strong local presence. One example within the Asia Pacific region has been the Firm's relationship with Malayan Banking Berhad (Maybank), a Malaysian-grown universal bank with presence in the key Southeast Asian economies, such as Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.
"From 2014 onward, the Firm made a conscious effort to elevate Maybank into a structured client program for key Asia Pacific clients, and that has changed our relationship with them for the better. This prioritization of Maybank has given them and us a platform where we can take account their feedback on our service delivery, and act on them more pointedly," said Munir Abdul Aziz, deputy managing partner from Wong & Partners, the Kuala Lumpur member firm, and one of the client service directors for Maybank. He adds: "This means more frank conversations between us, which has progressed the relationship."
"Over the years, our commitment of building the institutional relationship with Maybank has meant more Firm resources - in BD, pitching, proposals - have been invested in doing so. We have been able to enable them to trust our brand in whichever country they can find us, and become their problem solvers," said Kuala Lumpur partner Mark Lim, another of our client service directors. "We are able to bring more of our fellow partners to the table, and to ensure that the quality and experience of service we offer is consistent regardless of location."
Singapore-based client service director, principal Emmanuel Hadjidakis, also remarks that Maybank often uses our Singapore office as a coordinating office for their cross-border matters. "Maybank appreciates that we are able to coordinate complex cross-border matters in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner. They view Singapore as a hub that delivers seamless service, adds value and helps them navigate issues across a number of jurisdictions (some more challenging than others)." As a clear result of the client program inclusion, there has been 20% growth in revenue generated from this relationship, and as many as 23 member firms have been instructed by Maybank in recent years.
Kuala Lumpur, in conversation with Mark Lim…
Another long-term client relationship that we are proud to have is with Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Berhad (Press Metal), which is a publicly listed company on the Malaysian stock exchange. Press Metal is one of Asia's largest manufacturers and traders of aluminum products. This relationship had begun almost a decade ago with our Kuala Lumpur member firm. In that period, Press Metal's market capitalization has grown significantly to the current level of MYR 18 billion.
Partner Mark Lim, who also heads the Finance & Projects practice in Kuala Lumpur, remembers doing mostly financing deals with Press Metal in the early days, and noting that Press Metal was instrumental in their nomination of relevant counsel for the deals. "As Press Metal started to expand their business across Asia Pacific, and because of the nature of their business, they started to do additional financing, cross-border acquisitions of targets which will improve their supply chain, and other types of corporate reorganizing exercises. Baker McKenzie and its member firms became the go-to firm for them, and we started to rope in other offices such as HHP Law Firm in Indonesia and Baker McKenzie Australia.
"Because of our footprint in all these countries that they had business dealings with, and how we were able to provide them with the full range of services, it also made it easier for Press Metal to decide to work with us."
Collaborative, diverse, inclusive and rewarding
As one of the largest global law firms, Baker McKenzie prides itself on being a disruptive innovator in the legal industry, but what does this mean in practical terms?
A simple Google search will bring hundreds of examples of our Firm leading the way — from being the first international law firm to enter many local markets in the Asia Pacific region, to being one of the first firms to adopt a sophisticated business and legal services delivery model in four centers around the world.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Baker McKenzie has many firsts in corporate social responsibility. For example, as part of our commitment to the UN Global Compact, we were the first Firm to align our global strategy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and one of the first firms to champion equal pay. Also on the global stage, as part of our groundbreaking partnership with the World Economic Forum, our associate, Yoon Chae from Dallas, was the first lawyer to complete a placement with the World Economic Forum's Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We were also catalysts for the launch of the Street Children Legal Atlas tool. Diversity and Inclusion is part of our DNA, and as such we concentrate our efforts to continually evaluate and evolve. This has driven change in our Firm across the world: in London we were the first law firm to introduce an ethnicity staff network; in Australia, the first law firm to adopt a gender-equal parental leave; and recently in June 2019, we were the first global law firm to adopt ambitious 40:40:20 gender diversity targets.
The New Lawyers: Our Story
But most importantly Baker McKenzie is defined by our people, who as individuals have created their own ‘firsts.’
A very notable Baker McKenzie trailblazer is Christine Lagarde, who smashed the glass ceiling when she was appointed the first-ever woman to take the position of Chair at a global law firm. A truly inspirational role model, she firmly believed “that for any organization to succeed, women must play an integral role.” Her legacy created a culture of inclusion and was the catalyst for the move toward gender parity in the Firm.
We continue to deliver firsts with the recent appointment of Claudia Benavides in Bogota, our first woman Dispute Resolution global practice chair.
Regine Corrado, who is now an equity partner in Corporate and Securities in Chicago, worked part-time after having her children. A first at the time, she explains how, with the support of the Firm, she found the right work-life balance. “I got to the office before 8 am in the morning, left the office at 2:30 pm every afternoon and would go back to work at night after my daughters went to sleep. You could call me an ‘early adopter’ to what is now a very normal flexible work schedule.”
Regine Corrado with her daughters
A recent example of our family-friendly policies in practice is our associate, Valesca Molinari, from our Frankfurt office, who has just started shared parental leave with her husband while she undertakes a fellowship at the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, making her exciting career move possible.
They say timing is everything, and for Jannan Crozier, she didn’t let being pregnant affect her application for partner. “I went through the process and was very honest that I would take maternity leave and then come back, and that’s exactly what I did.” Jannan was promoted to partner, has gone on to be equity partner, and also signed one of the biggest global deals of 2018. She is an excellent example “that you can come back and work in a client-facing role and be a great mum as well. If you want it, you can have it. Baker McKenzie can’t solve all life problems; what they can give is the flexibility to help with them.”
As global culture changes, the Firm is constantly evolving, and in Australia we recently introduced gender-equal paternity leave. Jeremy Hyman, senior communications manager, was one of the first dads to take advantage of the new policy. "To be given the opportunity to spend time with my daughter has allowed me to form a deeper bond with my child and share milestone moments I’ll never forget."
We are nurturing social mobility by supporting colleagues to deliver their full potential no matter their background.
Bobby Sarkodee-Ado’s first visit to a Baker McKenzie office was back in 2008 when as a teenager, he attended a Business in the Community event for ethnic minority students from less-privileged backgrounds. Coming from a traditional African family living in an area of London heavily associated with gang violence, he thought the experience was a game changer. It struck him that, “surprisingly, there were lawyers at the Firm from minority backgrounds like me – if they can do it, why can’t I?” He worked harder in school, and returned to the Firm as a trainee. He’s now an associate. “I would not trade my life experiences for anything. They have taught me resilience. Because the Firm has challenged perceptions and broken down barriers. I feel I could go all the way. It’s up to me!”
Our senior associate, Laura Fisher, is very proud of her heritage. She talks candidly about the challenges she faced coming from a working-class family and how, as a very smart child, she secured a state-funded assisted place (similar to a scholarship) at a top school. She was cautious when deciding on a law firm to work for, and was worried about experiencing that feeling of "not belonging" again. Speaking about working in our London office, she says she feels “lucky to be in an environment where everyone is able to thrive despite and even because of their background.”
An important first for our Firm was being recognized by Stonewall's 2018 Top Global Employers for the third consecutive year, as well as Top Global LGBT+ Network of the Year 2018.
Loke Khoon Tan was one of our first equity partners at the Firm to come out. In this short film, he talks about being open with clients, the support he has from colleagues and challenges he faces as an openly gay man in law. Loke (as he is called by colleagues and clients) said he “is indebted to our late chair, Paul Rawlinson, who encouraged me to come out in the Firm and to work in the Global Diversity & Inclusion Committee.”
Watch short film featuring Loke Khoon Tan
Loke Khoon Tan
As the first openly gay woman of color in our Johannesburg office, Lerisha Naidu talks about her "first," describing “the exercise of unlearning and overcoming the mental obstacles associated with not only a childhood in Apartheid South Africa, but formative years being set on an overwhelmingly heteronormative society with gender biases that were intrinsically linked to culture and class”. She chooses to “applaud the protagonists of diversity and inclusion,” and encourages us to “transcend compartmentalized discussions, creating an environment of empowerment.”
As we celebrate the Firm’s 70th birthday this year, we pledge to continue to evolve and innovate, creating many more ‘Firsts of the Future.’
Peter May, our Chief People Officer, talks about our latest program, PointONE, and why a culture of candor matters
Chief People Officer
Is everything being done to create a workplace culture where openness and respect is the norm? It's a question I ask myself regularly in my role as Chief People Officer, of course, but it's one we all need to constantly ask ourselves — for everyone has a part to play in creating and maintaining a psychologically safe workplace. At Baker McKenzie, we are working hard to make sure every person feels valued, respected and listened to.
In May we launched the PointONE program, our Firm-wide commitment to a respectful, safe and inclusive working environment. PointONE is about communicating clear expectations for behavior, and providing clear, safe paths for raising and managing concerns.
Our three new policies are the foundation of the PointONE program. They deal with Workplace Behavior, Alcohol and Prohibited Substances, and Relationship at Work. They apply to all our people and are embedded in our Code of Business Conduct, which sends a clear message to everyone about how seriously we're taking these important topics.
We are also making it easier for all our people to raise and discuss any concerns about behavior that might breach these policies, so we have introduced the PointONE Contact role.
A PointONE contact is, quite simply, the first person you might think to talk to if you are concerned about conduct at work. Partners, senior associates and senior business professionals from all around our Firm have told us they want to help, to be involved and so are undergoing robust training to ensure they're well equipped. Importantly, this is in addition to the existing channels for raising concerns. We are in the early stages of the program so we don't yet have PointONE contacts in every location, but this program has our fullest commitment and we will be training more contacts in every region over the coming months.
We still have work to do to ensure that these and other steps result in an environment in which all of our people feel able to speak up and voice their concerns, confident in the knowledge that they will be supported and see appropriate action taken. However, our message is clear. Sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying have no place at Baker McKenzie.
Our Global Director of Sustainability, Christie Constantine, discusses the changing role of business and the value of purpose
I realize that it's somewhat ironic to say, in the context of an annual report, that profit isn't everything. But more than ever, organizational purpose is recognized as an equally vital component for business success. Most of us come to work each day understanding what our organization is trying to accomplish; purpose speaks to a deeper, more personal question: “Why?” There is, of course, no one answer, especially among a group of people as diverse as Baker McKenzie. One of the world's leading researchers on purpose, Bill Damon, has succinctly described purposeful work as work that is both personally meaningful and socially beneficial.
Certainly, this is front of mind for younger generations. Millennials, who by 2025 will comprise 75% of the workforce, hold starkly different views about business purpose compared to prior generations. They want to work for companies that care about society and the environment, and they believe that business success should not be measured solely in financial terms. But the yearning for purpose is not limited to young people, to the contrary, as evidenced by any number of recent books and articles, these questions can take on even greater urgency in later life.
Simply put, businesses that aren’t prioritizing organizational purpose will miss out on top talent and won’t get the best out of their employees, regardless of age.
This is one reason why our Firm has placed “supporting and serving our communities across the globe” at the heart of our strategy. Our people take enormous pride and satisfaction in the Firm’s efforts to be a responsible business and contribute to society.
We are certainly not alone. I see the growing focus on organizational purpose as part of a broader push for leading companies to operate in ways that are simultaneously good for the bottom line and beneficial for society.
Global Director of Sustainability
Expectations of business are changing. At a time of environmental, social and geopolitical uncertainty — with mounting inequality and the increasingly tangible effects of climate change being felt — companies of all sizes are being asked, what are you doing for the world? It's no longer enough to simply deliver profit. With increasing demand for transparent and ethical corporate behavior, building public trust requires going beyond profit to include people and planet.
Ultimately, this can benefit business as well. More and more, companies are realizing that in an increasingly volatile world, operating sustainably can help them be more competitive, boost resilience, and better manage risk. This is especially true for companies with complex global supply chains, facing a wide range of issues from natural resource scarcity to human rights to increased regulation to investor pressure. Additionally, finding more sustainable ways of doing business is driving growth and innovation in many sectors, especially those facing significant disruption, where the low-carbon, circular economy of the future will require radical transformation.
Considering the scale and complexity of issues facing humanity, it’s clear that governments and civil society can’t tackle these challenges alone. Not only are companies essential to finding the solutions, they are increasingly expected to demonstrate meaningful leadership on these issues and use their scale and influence to drive change.
Enter the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Launched in 2015, the SDGs have quickly become the world’s collective game plan for solving the biggest issues of our time. Crucially, they provide business with an opportunity for re-imagining their core products and services to help address global needs. According to a report by the Better Business Better World Commission, pursuing the SDGs could unlock some USD $12 trillion in new market opportunities in the next decade “in ways that extend prosperity to all.
It’s with this in mind that Baker McKenzie has aligned our own global sustainability strategy with the SDGs. For us, the SDGs provide a ready framework to inspire our people and partner with like-minded organizations, including our clients, to increase our positive impact. But equally important is the opportunity the SDGs provide us for living up to our ideals as The New Lawyers: diverse global citizens who recognize that helping our clients navigate an increasingly complex world requires a new type of thinking.
Simply being "a good lawyer" is no longer enough. By better understanding the sustainability challenges that are facing our clients and shaping their industries, we can become more effective business advisors and problem solvers, helping them to navigate a wide range of issues.
Finally, as a leading global law firm, we recognize that these challenges and responsibilities fall to us, too. Last year, we consulted 1500 stakeholders to better understand our responsibilities and our impact. All across our business, we are identifying opportunities for improvement on a range of environmental, social and governance topics, and setting targets to drive progress — for example, our ambitious new gender targets. By working to ensure that sustainability is truly embedded into the fabric of the Firm and informs everything we do, we become better lawyers, more valued advisors, and a more purposeful organization.
Supporting refugees in the workplace
What started as a phone call to a colleague on a warm summer evening in 2017 became a multi-award-winning project, which has seen almost 50 refugees from countries including Syria, Somalia and the Ivory Coast secure work placements and, sometimes, permanent careers. The person who made that phone call? Andrea Cicala, a partner in Baker McKenzie's Milan office. The project is not about philanthropy, he says, but opportunity.
In 2017, almost 120,000 refugees migrated to Italy, almost 67% of the EU's migrant arrivals. "I was watching the news and I really felt for the refugees I was seeing. The fact is, once refugees are granted asylum in Italy, they leave the camp having nowhere to live or work. I wanted to help change this, so I contacted an old colleague who used to be an associate at our Firm, and now is professor at the Università Statale of Milan (one of the Milan universities).
Abd Alaghawani and Andrea Cicala with Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Photo courtesy of UNHCR/A.Penso
"We brainstormed plans and by October 2017, had a proposal to show to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)," says Andrea.
With the support of local NGO "Farsi Prossimo", that proposal outlined plans to integrate refugees into the workplace of some of Baker McKenzie's Italian clients. The UNHCR was resoundingly supportive, as Andrea de Bonis from the organization explains, "Baker McKenzie's plan to create a project in collaboration with clients, NGOs and academics was extremely well developed. We were very eager to participate."
The Promoting Refugees in the Workplace Program encourages businesses to employ refugees on a three-to six-month internship. They are provided with training and a salary, and in some conditions, a place to live. They are given the chance to develop their skills and gain essential qualifications, raising their confidence and facilitating their steady entry into the labor market. Andrea Cicala says, "We wanted to provide the first step in helping them regain their "self-esteem", to give them their first real opportunity at success in Italy, in the hope we can help to build their future."
And this project has done just that. The first refugee who was taken on as part of this project, was David,* from the Ivory Coast. He was granted asylum in 2017 and despite having a degree in sociology, was informed by volunteer career advisors that the most that he could hope for would be to be employed as a cleaner or a taxi driver.
Andrea Cicala contacted Sky and they were very eager to become involved. They hired David to join their HR team. After a few months, Sky was so impressed with his work that they offered him a labor contract. He is now employed and on a full-time salary. Most importantly, after a five-year separation, David was finally able to fly his daughter to live with him in Italy. He hadn't seen her since he left the Ivory Coast when she was just a year old. She's now in full-time education.
Andrea says, "For me, this was something to be truly proud of. My family and I met recently with David and his family, and I was overwhelmed to hear how well they are doing and how much he has achieved since joining our program."
To date, the Promoting Refugees in the Workplace Program has placed more than 40 refugees in 18 months, and almost 40% of them have been given the opportunity turn their internship into a stable job. This is by far in excess of the average rate of agency placement of refugees.
Another Baker McKenzie client who has embraced this program is Roberto Cavalli. Silvia Carteny, general counsel at the Italian fashion house, explains that they currently employ three team members. "The refugees come from Pakistan, Gambia and El Salvador and work in our tailoring, prototyping and creative departments, respectively. We have been so impressed by the skills they bring to their work, and also at the way they have enriched the culture and community of Roberto Cavalli. We have received incredible feedback from those colleagues who have worked and lived with them, so I hope that we as a company continue to support this project, and inspire others to do so in the future".
As a pioneer of this project, our Firm has led by example. The Firm initially recruited three refugees who all successfully completed the program. One refugee from Syria, Abd Alaghawani, joined its IT team and is now on a permanent contract. You can read about Abd's powerful journey at the end of this article. Another was a valued member of its reception team for nine months and after expressing an interest in working in the hospitality industry, the Baker McKenzie team managed to place him in the same position for a major Italian hotel chain. The last decided to pursue different personal objectives after some months and we have recently also welcomed a new program participant from the Ivory Coast.
For Andrea Cicala, however, this program isn't all about charity. It's about opportunity. "We want to integrate people, but we want to integrate in a way that adds value for the company and to the refugee. We aren't providing charity. We're providing opportunities for people to contribute, to realize their full potential, to change their future".
"This project has won awards, it has received praise from clients, NGOs and international bodies involved, but most importantly, it has changed lives. It has changed the lives of the refugees we have helped, but it has also changed the lives of those who have worked with the refugees. I am proud to count myself very much among those people".
This project hasn't ended. In fact, some hope that it has just begun. The UNHCR's Andrea de Bonis is appealing to Baker McKenzie to implement a national rollout across Italy, and to begin in other EU countries, including Greece. He says, "We have had such a good experience working in collaboration with the Firm and others. After months of work, I could see how professional this team was, and how devoted they were to the project. It is for this reason that we want to continue this collaboration, not only in Italy, but in other areas of the EU."
Our lawyers are not just passionate about helping our clients; they're also passionate about helping those in need, about affecting change, and fighting for equality and justice. This project is just one example.
* To protect his anonymity, we haven't used David's real name
My name is Abdulrahman. Everyone calls me Abd. I was born and raised in a small town near Damascus, Syria.
I had a passion for Japan and its culture, so I started to study Japanese literature at Damascus University after high school, where I went for three years. I also had the chance to start my own business with my brothers in a small internet café in our hometown.
However, after the war started I stopped going to university as all of the Japanese professors went back to their country, so studying became impossible.
My workplace also became too dangerous, as gunfire, bombing, and terrorists started to take over some areas close to us. It also meant that we had to close our business.
I decided to travel to Dubai in the UAE to find an opportunity there. After searching for two months, I didn't even have a job interview, so I went back home.
After two months since my return from Dubai, I lost my big brother due to a health issue he had since birth, and we couldn't find any proper cure for it. Both of my brothers got the same health problem, and in my country, it became harder for patients such as them to have necessary treatment.
We moved to another house, as the danger reached where we were staying. We stayed for five years after that without doing much other than surviving, with no electricity most days, and with bad internet connection. We got used to hearing the bombs falling around Damascus and near our house. I can't describe the details, but it was totally something beyond imagination.
Due to the illness of my younger brother, we had to do something in order to evade the same fate of my big brother, so with the help of some relatives in the UAE, we managed to go to the American University Hospital in Beirut to check and see if they could treat him. Doctors suggested a bone marrow transplant, which meant that we would have to travel to Italy or the US.
We chose Italy as it was easier to travel to. After contacting a hospital in Milan and getting their approval and finding the right donor (which was me), and with the help of one of our relatives in the UAE who helped pay for our travel and treatment, we were able to take a flight to Italy in 2016.
We managed to complete the treatment process in one year, and thanks to God, everything went well for my brother, and his situation has changed for the better. However, we decided to stay in Italy as such treatment would require regular check-ups. Also going back to Syria would mean going back to the hell we were living.
After a year of staying in Italy, we applied for asylum protection, and as refugees, we went under the protection of the Italian government, which helped us through some organization that helped refugees in Italy. With their incredible help, we started to find a place for us here. They were so kind, helpful and mindful, aiming for nothing but to see a smile on others' faces, putting their goal of helping those who need help and who could find a place in Italy as their priority.
I decided to find a job as I knew very well that I couldn't keep relying on others to help me, and because I wanted to be a useful person, I wanted to experience again the meaning of living normally. Through the organization to which were helping us, I was put in touch with Andrea Cicala's project to find jobs for refugees, and that's how I came to know Baker McKenzie.
To be honest with you, when I arrived at the office for my first job interview, I was like, "This is a place I would love to work at. This is a place in which I can evolve and improve my skills and myself and have an opportunity to work on a global level." It was totally a dream for me. After four months of working on a temporary contract, and with the help of Mr. Cicala and many others in the office, I was able to sign my permanent work contract with Baker McKenzie.
I can't describe that moment of joy when I returned back home and told my parents about it. It brought them to tears, and they're so happy that my first work experience in Europe was in a big famous law firm such as Baker McKenzie. I'm so proud to be one of its members, and I'm doing my utmost to help my colleagues here in Italy as an IT on-site analyst.
Here in Baker McKenzie, I've met countless of kind, open-minded, respectful people from different offices, some of whom I work with regularly and can call friends. No one has asked me why I'm here. No one has treated me in a way that made me feel like I'm less or that I came from a war-torn country, etc. That is one reason why I truly love working here, because I'm working with open, nonjudgmental people.
Again, I would like to thank Baker McKenize, Mr. Cicala, my manager and supervisor Javier Cudero, and Daniel Surowiec, and to everyone who has helped me reach the place I'm standing on. It's surely an honour to me, a big achievement in my life and I hope to be able to prove my usefulness and willingness of being a member of this big family.
I've forgotten to mention that I'm so fond of computers and technology in general, ever since I was a little child, and you could say I was called "the computer technician" among my family, so yes, I can say that in Baker McKenzie, I was able to put one of my biggest passions to use, to help others and also to improve and learn more about my profession as an IT technician.
same but better?
What does the firm of the future look like for our clients?
Change the little things and the big things will come
In Conversation with our Innovation champions.
Innovation at Baker McKenzie is about adapting our services so we can better anticipate and meet our clients' needs as they continue to rapidly change. Our strategy around innovation continued to evolve this year, as we learned from the successes and failures we have experienced so far.
We heard from our partners that in focusing on the more disruptive end of innovation, we had inadvertently made it harder for some of them to see what role they could play in the change process. So in FY19 we sharpened our focus on "the now" — focusing on doing what we are currently doing every day, but doing it better. While we continue to aim toward longer-term, disruptive changes in our business model and service delivery, we recognized the importance of making incremental changes and bringing all our practices along with us.
As Ben Allgrove, the Firm's Global R&D lead puts it, "Change the little things and the big things will come."
We recently spoke with Ben, Chief Services Officer David Cambria, and Innovation Ambassadors Danielle Benecke and Jonathan Voo about the evolution of our innovation strategy. They covered the successes and challenges of the last year and what we are aiming toward next year.
What does Innovation mean to Baker McKenzie?
Innovation ambassadors in Singapore
How has our innovation strategy evolved over FY19?
Ben: Over the last 12 to 18 months, our biggest challenge has been getting our practices engaged on what "innovation" means at a practical level, on the ground. So we made a shift in our approach — focusing on the way services are delivered now and just doing it better. In other words, making "innovation" about the now, not just about the future state.
Danielle: We've described it as prioritizing evolution over disruption at this stage. The disruptive piece of our strategy is still there, certainly, but we're looking more closely at the evolution piece, changing the way we think in our current day-to-day. We need to bring people with us.
David: I think of our strategy in three buckets: the first is the new and shiny stuff, the sleek tools and tech; the second is the idea of doing what we do better, working more efficiently — smarter, better, faster. And the third is thinking about how we can expand our offerings in anticipation of how our clients' needs will be changing — being proactive and forward-thinking.
What about our Innovation Bars and Innovation Ambassadors program? Those programs seem to have evolved and grown quite a bit this year.
Jonathan: Yes, the evolution of our Innovation Bar is a great example of how our strategy is working. What started as a small set of tables in Taipei in early 2018 quickly expanded into a sleek set-up featuring dozens of ambassadors engaging with our lawyers on their innovation questions, sharing ideas, at partners meetings, in offices and at practice retreats and industry events around the world.
Danielle: I think we are starting to see a real culture change. We always will need that strong leadership from the top, to be sure, but activating our base, giving them a bit more support and structure globally, has been really impactful for the culture change — for moving the ship. Our Innovation Ambassadors program is one of our core programs to try and do that — and, in parallel with the Innovation Bars concept, it's been a successful experiment. Right now we're at more than 1000 ambassadors globally — out of the roughly 13,000 people we have across the firm.
What signs have you seen in the last year of our innovation strategy coming alive?
Ben: Our work with one of the world's largest consumer goods companies is a terrific example of where we see our innovation efforts directly impacting a client relationship. We've done a great deal of work with this particular company around design thinking. We've been able to share the learnings we've had internally on innovation and design thinking to help this major multinational start its own innovation evolution within its in-house legal team.
David: Another example I see is that there's a different conversation happening with our clients. It used to be that the in-house law departments were telling outside law firms that the firms needed to innovate. Now, they are watching us in the marketplace and seeing how we are making these changes to our delivery model and they are coming to us and saying, "How are you doing that? How can you help us do it, too?"
Jonathan: We are really seeing this shift everywhere. I was just on a call with a client in Shanghai who wants to fly two or three of us to their offices to talk about what we're doing at Baker McKenzie in terms of design thinking — they are looking for a workshop on how they can roll out a similar program in their organization.
Danielle: I think another sign of our innovation strategy really coming alive is simply how our lawyers are starting to think of their client relationships in a different way. We're challenging the legal industry's traditional capabilities-oriented approach. We're sharpening our focus on clients' needs and making sure they're at the center of everything we do, including by inviting them in to co-create services with us.
Ben: Yes, and in terms of service delivery specifically, the growth of our services function is enabling us to translate these innovation efforts into tangible improvements in how we deliver our work to clients — through investments in LPM, legal technology, advanced pricing strategy and more.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced this year?
Ben: I think the No. 1 challenge has been, how do we make space for our lawyers to invest time in these projects? How can we free up resources to invest the energy into innovation that is necessary to bring our strategy to life? That is something we continue to work with the EC on, and there will be exciting announcements on this front very soon.
Another challenge for us — we have a great deal of data that can be harnessed by technology and used to provide better insight and services for clients.
But there is a lack of market readiness to harness that knowledge right now. It's fragmented across jurisdictions. The fragmentation forestalls our progress on the data analytics front. There is also more internal work on the data architecture that we need to do.
Jonathan: Indeed, we have the skills to harness that data. It's just about the right resourcing and technology to do it, and I think we are right on the doorstep.
Danielle: Another challenge I think for us has been, how do we measure the value of innovation in our current business model? I know a lot of our associates, for example, see involvement in innovation as extremely high value and critical, but they struggle with how to best demonstrate that value to their local and regional practice groups. We want to work on changing that.
What milestones are you aiming toward for FY20?
Jonathan: In the Asia Pacific region, I would like to see us continue to engage more with the rest of the legal ecosystem — collaborating more with universities, in particular, to share knowledge and ideas and drive forward our innovation efforts. I would also like to see us do more design thinking workshops with clients.
David: From the Services function perspective, I want my team to continue to build a structure around our innovation offerings that helps take our firm from where we are now to where we want to be in three to five years. The practice groups should be thinking about, as a practice, where are the gaps between where we are today and where we need to be in three to five years? That's where innovation happens — solving for that space between where we are today and where we want to be
Danielle: We've been doing a lot to boost D&I across the Firm, and looking ahead to next year, I'm excited to see how the results of that work feed into our innovation program and the body of talent who can execute on that. Diversity breeds creativity. It's common sense, backed up by the research, and has certainly been a key factor in our success as a global firm. Quite simply, teams made up of a variety of perspectives do innovative work. And that's also something many of our clients know, practice, and expect from their lawyers and other service providers.
Collaboration, creativity — and following the sun
Staying ahead of the curve
From Belfast to Buenos Aires, Tampa to Manila, Baker McKenzie's Centers play a pivotal role in how the Firm assists clients and creates opportunities for its people. Global Chief Operating Officer Jason Marty and Global Director of Operations Kate Stonestreet tell us that the success of these Centers has been largely down to quality, detailed process design and talent.
Baker McKenzie was a pioneer in developing the concept of stand-alone Centers to support its business, and to this day, we continue to be ahead of the curve on how services are delivered across the firm. Kate Stonestreet says, "A lot of our competitors have outsourced their business services.
"We took a different approach, maintaining teams in-house, which allowed us to maintain confidentiality, control quality, manage our people, and create teams that are truly part of the business and functioning on a permanent basis. Our turnover is less and the level of commitment is more as a result of that."
Kate was involved in setting up our first Center in Manila in 2001. A member of the Firm's business development team at the time, she helped to launch the Center's first service: a three-person team of digital dictation processors. Led by Lorie Barredo, our Manila Center has now grown to be one of our biggest locations, employing more than 900 people. But its success hasn't been entirely smooth sailing, as Jason Marty explains, "Manila grew very quickly because people liked the idea of having teams that could provide high-quality support in lower-cost jurisdictions.
"But the scale and pace of growth meant that issues of quality control and process efficiency were starting to arise. We soon recognized that labor arbitrage should not be the sole priority. Now the focus is on the quality of individuals, greater standardization and better use of technology. We have made substantial investments in these areas, and it's had a huge impact. But as teams grew, we also recognized the need to create a culture where our people felt valued and supported, that they are proud to be a part of Baker McKenzie, and take real pride in the value they bring to the Firm — that is equally important. Our Center teams tell us that they really relish the interactions they have across cultures and the different offices of the Firm. It's not always easy, but it is rewarding. This is reflective of the culture of Baker McKenzie in terms of being passionately global."
In her role working across our Centers, Kate regularly spends time on the ground, and comments that the teams we now have in Manila, and elsewhere, are a "group of talented, dedicated, highly committed professionals working to serve the needs of the Firm. They are driven to do that, and they are very good at what they do. They work as part of a large team, across shifts and in collaboration with our office teams to make sure services meet the diverse needs of the wider business. It's impressive."
Having learned from experience in Manila, Baker McKenzie wanted to establish a second Center, this time to provide not just business services, but also alternative legal services, and Belfast was chosen as the location. Jason explains, "Belfast started out as an exploration of what could we do around alternative legal services. What was fascinating about it was as we got through the planning and project work, it became clear that it was an opportunity to learn from what we had done in Manila but also to learn from where the industry had gone and to really treat it as an opportunity to build our best practice and have an impact that went beyond what we had thought of as a traditional low-cost Center. We chose Belfast for a number of reasons, and yes, cost played a part, but we also identified its exceptional pool of talent, from both legal and business backgrounds".
Jason moved his family to Belfast in September 2014 and was the Center's Executive Director for the first three years, before moving home to Chicago to take up the role of global chief operating officer. Our Belfast office is now led by James Richards, who has been a transactional lawyer with the Firm for over 20 years.
Jason explains the secret to Belfast's success, "We managed to develop Belfast in a way that it had its own identity, but was also very well integrated into the broader firm. People wanted that." Belfast's success at delivering for clients and the Firm has meant that it now employs over 350 people, with plans to recruit another 200 over the coming year.
Kate and Jason say that the decision to locate our two newest Centers in Tampa and Buenos Aires came down to three things: cost, quality and risk. Jason says that, "For us, in the case of Belfast and then Tampa and Buenos Aires, there's a fairly heavy bias toward quality as the most important of those three things, so while it would have been feasible to find a lower-cost option, we didn't want to risk quality." A further consideration was the need and ability to provide Spanish and Portuguese language services for our offices in Latin America.
Establishing operations in Tampa and Buenos Aires means that Baker McKenzie's Centers now offer over 60 legal and business services to the Firm, on a "follow-the-sun" approach. Services include procurement, marketing and business development, document production and design services, knowledge support and research services, billing and collections, and legal project management.
Led by Jamie Lawless (Tampa) and Gabriel Pardo (Buenos Aires), each of our new Centers currently employs around 40 people, with plans for another 250 new roles in each by 2021. Developing a local culture in both Centers will be vital to attracting talent here, as it has been in Belfast and Manila. Kate explains, "We're thrilled to see the fantastic talent that we’re able to attract in the new markets — and the excitement that our new team members are expressing about working at Baker McKenzie; that's all down to the culture that Jamie and Gabriel are helping to create and the opportunities we are able to create for people who want to work as part of a global team providing business solutions across the world."
The integration of our Centers within the Firm has been essential for successfully developed our services offering. Jason says, "One of the things that has surprised me most about our Centers is the strong desire from our people in those locations to both have a local identity as an employer and a place to work, but to really truly be part of the global firm. And they are. At the end of the day, everyone at our Firm is part of a team working together to deliver against the needs of the business."
By utilizing technology and putting process and quality at the heart of our strategy for the Centers, Kate says that teams are able to deliver an even more exceptional service. "The technology, the innovation, the opportunities we are creating in markets and for our people, means that we are only just starting to scratch the surface in terms of what we can do and how we can support our Firm. This means that what we used to deliver through the Centers will be very different to what we’ll deliver in the future."
Our Firm's strategy is also allowing for continued development of our alternative legal services offering. In February 2019, the first attorneys to be based in Tampa joined, working alongside colleagues in Belfast. Over the past six months, the Tampa lawyers have integrated seamlessly into the Firm's existing offering, collaborating with the Belfast team on a variety of matters for clients in the pharma, financial services and technology spheres.
These projects have included analyzing and categorizing responses to a public consultation, reviewing documentary evidence in connection with ongoing litigation, and providing support on a large-scale information governance exercise. In a short space of time, the Tampa team has engaged with several Baker McKenzie offices, including Chicago, London, Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles and Toronto.
"The technology, the innovation, the opportunities we are creating in markets and for our people, means that we are only just starting to scratch the surface in terms of what we can do and how we can support our Firm. This means that what we used to deliver through the Centers will be very different to what we’ll deliver in the future."
Kate Stonestreet —
Global Director of Operations
Throughout FY19, the Services Disputes and Transaction Support Groups also continued to provide assistance to our practicing offices around the globe. In particular, since January 2018, legal professionals from the Disputes Support Group in Belfast were seconded to the Zurich office. Supporting a large-scale investigation, 22 legal professionals worked alongside colleagues from approximately 20 other Baker McKenzie offices. In addition, a Belfast-based team lead has been heavily involved in implementing a “best practice” quality control process for the document review aspects of the project.
The Transaction Support Group was recently engaged by the M&A practice to assist with a time-critical due diligence document review and redaction exercise as part of an M&A auction process. The team used a combination of pattern-recognition software and manual review to redact documentation and identify particular provisions in connection with two proposed deal structures in the auction process.
In addition, the team coordinated input from multiple jurisdictions and non-English language documentation review, assisted with management of the deal data room (including assistance with clean-team elements), produced summaries for each provided contract and created a “management team overview” of potential issues in connection with the preferred deal structure. In excess of 1500 documents were addressed in this manner.
So the future is bright for Baker McKenzie's Centers, and growth is inevitable. We are putting high-quality talent at the heart of our business model, and making sure teams in our Centers operate as an integrated part of the business service delivery model.
For all of us, Paul was a visionary, a true leader and a good friend. He will be greatly missed.
It's impossible to talk about the success of FY19 and the vision for the journey which lies ahead without talking about Paul. Paul Rawlinson was many things to many people: a visionary, a leader, a friend. The legacy he leaves extends well beyond our Firm, and beyond the legal industry — it is a legacy of diversity, of courage to try new things and of great warmth. He lit up the room. He is fondly remembered and deeply missed.