#03 – Baker McKenzie VS Application
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Covering Letter – 750 words
Please ensure you cover the following points, and include any key items you think we should consider which are not covered elsewhere:
- What excites you in becoming a Commercial Solicitor;
- What drives you to apply to Baker McKenzie;
- Three key skills you are developing to ensure you are ready to start your Training Contract.
Dear Ms Nicola Stanley,
I am a law graduate applying for Baker McKenzie’s Spring Vacation Scheme.
Commercial solicitors provide more than just black-letter law legal advice. Clients expect them to be a trusted business partner that understands the personal and business context in which they operate. This is crucial for providing sound business advice that is relevant and easy to understand. This is an essential skill for commercial solicitors, and it is one of the aspects of the work that excites me most. As someone who has started and run their own company, I am passionate about building deep, personal, relationships with Baker McKenzie’s clients and helping their businesses grow using my business acumen and commercial knowledge. Given the increasingly complex minefield of legislation, regulation, and disruption currently taking place in the legal profession, the challenges facing commercial solicitors are growing; however, they are welcome. Over the past four years, I have attended an array of events to further my commercial awareness and keep myself current. To that end and to test my knowledge, I recently entered the Aspiring Solicitors Commercial Awareness Competition. I reached the semi-final, from 2400 entrants down to 100, and am waiting to hear if I reached the final. After recently attending a seminar on Tech M&A, I am highly motivated to complete a secondment to Baker McKenzie’s San Francisco office, the technology hub of the world, Silicon Valley, where many of the firm’s multinational tech companies are headquartered.
Working at Baker McKenzie will allow me to work on cross-border matters and build relationships with an array of international market-leading clients. Given that 65% of the firm’s revenue comes from acting for clients in five offices or more demonstrates how global the firm is. Working on matters similar to the $11 billion Hitachi deal that the firm recently advised on, interests me. Working on transactions that can span 100 jurisdictions like this one is sure to be intellectually stimulating as you have to collaborate with so many different people from different backgrounds and offices across the globe. The challenges posed by such work is invigorating. As manager of my university’s diverse […] Society, I came to appreciate how bringing together different perspectives contributes to delivering innovative solutions and realised the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Throughout my three years of running the society, I had to nurture relationships with various stakeholders, both internal and external, to the university. Building and maintaining these relationships took up a considerable amount of my time; however, through effective time management, task prioritisation and delegation, I was able to balance my studies, part-time job and society commitments. As a result of this, I was awarded the ‘Gold Carrot’ in my final year at university.
Networking with Baker McKenzie’s lawyers on numerous occasions, most notably on the Open Day, has reinforced what I know about the firm’s culture. The firm’s genuine commitment to Diversity and Inclusion is unwavering, and the importance it places on Corporate Social Responsibility is inspiring. Evidence of this can be found from the firm aligning its own goals with that of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Having been involved in pro bono for over four years, I appreciate the value it brings to the volunteer, the client, the community, and the firm as a whole. I am, therefore, keen to have the opportunity to continue contributing to worthy causes such as the NSPCC and Cancer Research UK.
During the Open Day, I heard from trainees that Baker McKenzie’s people are professional but also caring, supportive, and genuinely committed to your personal and professional development. Baker McKenzie considers its trainees as a long-term investment, and rightly so, they are the firm’s future. The firm’s investment in their people to ensure retention is evidenced by the fact that just over 50% of the firm’s UK based partners trained at the firm. The relatively small intake size means that you are not only another number and are given real responsibility, client contact and extremely high quality of training. Because of the firm’s inclusive culture, the enjoyability of the work, and the challenges you face as a team, the work is immensely satisfying and stimulating, and I believe this environment is one in which I will thrive and reach my potential.
Ahead of starting a training contract, I believe my ability to be resilient and my sheer determination to succeed is my greatest attribute, as evidenced throughout this application.
Thank you for considering my application.
2. Diversity and Inclusion are inseparable from a career at Baker McKenzie. Please outline how you would apply Diversity & Inclusion in your role, drawing on any initiatives you may have been involved in. (250 words max)*
Baker McKenzie’s success on the international stage is attributable to its approach to Diversity and Inclusion. Since launching BakerEthnicity in 2006, the firm’s longstanding commitment to celebrating people’s differences and championing inclusivity distinguishes it from competitors. As the first global law firm to set a 40:40:20 gender diversity target, it has demarcated itself as a leader in this regard. The ability to leverage different languages, cultures and perspectives when expanding into new and emerging markets is crucial and is something I strive to do systematically. A diverse team is best placed to understand clients’ cultural nuances and to deliver innovative solutions.
All employees are responsible for providing an environment in which everyone feels valued, included, and respected. As a trainee, this begins by recognising one’s privilege and the impact you can have on others as a champion or ally. As someone who wants to campaign to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, the BakerWellbeing initiative is appealing.
As Finance Officer and Co-Founder of my university’s […] Society, I launched the […] Reception, an event aimed at increasing diversity in the legal profession. To this end, we brought together a diverse group of law professionals and gave them a platform to share their stories with our members, detailing how they succeeded in the face of adversity. Obtaining sponsorship ensured ticket prices were kept low, increasing accessibility. After selling out to 75+ students, the event came runner-up at the National Society Awards 2019 for ‘Best Event’.
3. Our strategies are driven around our clients and our people. Both go hand in hand, and one cannot succeed without the other. Please tell us what client focus and people focus mean to you, in a successful organisation like Baker McKenzie. Include any personal experience you think may be relevant to these discussions. (500 words max)*
Being client and people-focused means listening, learning, and reacting, combined with proactivity. Clients want lawyers who can lead, differentiate, adapt and collaborate to deliver innovative solutions to their ever-growing range of complex problems in a way that is simple to understand. More importantly, they want that advice preemptively.
Finding new ways to add value for clients is vital. The legal industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and clients want ‘more for less’. From starting and running a business, an […] shop, ‘[…], I appreciate how ‘going the extra mile’ makes a difference to client retention and satisfaction. As a start-up, gaining clients and market access required more than high-quality work at reasonable prices. Washing the car and offering free pick-up and drop-off at the clients’ convenience added value to the transaction. Through word of mouth, we built a reputation as a trusted quality body shop that surpassed client expectations. Being trusted by your clients in the legal industry is crucial and being client focussed ensures you maintain a high level of trust.
Moreover, with the current trend of technology disrupting the legal profession, it is even more important to listen to your clients. Innovation is essential, but it must be tailored to the client’s needs. As Co-Founder and Finance Officer of my university’s […] Society for three years, I always sought to develop and improve the society. I adopted a client/people focussed approach, utilising the method of listening, learning and reacting. After year one, I obtained members’ feedback through an online survey. It was essential to understand what they thought we did well and how we can improve. In year two, I acted on this feedback to deliver a greater variety of events, with a focus on inclusivity. I found that members wanted more social activities away from bars and alcohol, so I organised bowling and other non-drinking orientated events.
Additionally, recruiting more class representatives enabled feedback to be relayed from members to the committee throughout the year that could be acted on promptly. We adapted and collaborated to deliver the best value for money for our members. As a result of my efforts, the society won ‘Most Improve Student Group’ in year two. We achieved this by listening to our people and clients to ensure everyone’s views and opinions were respected and where possible acted on.
People focus also means ensuring the workplace is a supportive environment in which everyone can flourish. Achieving this requires entrusting people to get the job done and giving them the autonomy to do so. First, however, they need to be equipped with the skills to succeed. This is why personal and professional development is necessary, and Baker McKenzie’s constructive approach to feedback and mentoring provides people with the skills they need to succeed. As the Pro Bono Society’s manager, I recruited and trained three different committees and gave them the skills they needed to be leaders in their own right.
4. Please detail all your key achievements and interests to date. Use this section to tell us about any academic prizes, events, societies or roles with community programmes that you feel are significant in supporting your application. (300 words max)*
In November 2019, I competed in the semi-final of the […] Competition, that saw 2400 entrants down to 100.
Following my first […] lesson in October 2007, I worked for my instructor in return for lessons. After ten hours, I flew solo, and in February 2009 upon passing seven written examinations and a practical flight test, I obtained a […] License for […]. In September 2014, after further examinations, I upgraded my license to an […], allowing me to fly heavier […]. Converting this to a European license then permitted me to operate across Europe. I have accrued over 200 hours of flight time and flown to Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and France on a number of occasions.
In April 2019, I achieved the ‘[…] ’. […] Students’ Union’s most prestigious accolade and only awarded to five out of 18,000 students. Receiving this award involved being nominated by my peers, and then selected by the awarding committee having fulfilled the stringent criteria. This award recognised my three-year-long commitment to the […] Society, improving the student experience and my unwavering dedication to the Students’ Union. It reads as follows:
“[…] has always been very helpful and has supported students by mentoring them through their course. He has built strong relations both internal and external to City which have been instrumental in supporting law students.”
In 2018, I was awarded the […] Award for demonstrating that I had developed the following skills to an expert level: leadership, building relationships, commercial awareness, communication, creative problem-solving, enterprise, ethical behaviour, personal & professional development, planning & organisation and teamwork.
After playing snooker for four years, I co-started […] first pool and snooker team. We reached the BUCS 9-Ball quarterfinals in November 2018.
5. Excluding work experience, please detail all the events you have attended/organised which demonstrate your commitment to increasing your understanding of a career as a Solicitor. (250 words max)*
Hogan Lovells’ seminars on ‘Financing Tech in the Face of Economic Turbulence’ and, ‘Tech M&A: The View from London & Silicon Valley’. These focussed on the current trends and drivers of tech M&A and how deals differ from ‘old economy’ M&A, particularly in terms of target valuation and structuring. It was interesting to discover all the different aspects that lawyers are concerned with in these deals, including data protection, cybersecurity, intellectual property, tax, finance, corporate and restructuring.
Travers Smith’s seminar on ‘Trading Preparations Post Brexit – What to Prepare For’. Insightful to see the work they’re doing to prepare clients for the uncertainty ahead, particularly the negotiation of contracts and the inclusion of force majeure and Material Adverse Change clauses to protect their clients’ interests.
Selected to attend Open Days at Reed Smith, Clyde & Co, Macfarlanes, Dechert, Eversheds Sutherland and Bird & Bird has given, and will continue to give, me the opportunity to network with lawyers and develop my understanding of the work they undertake in various practice areas.
‘Cross-border commodity derivates regulation’ seminar with Reed Smith.
Baker McKenzie’s Virtual experience programme.
Brought and won a misrepresentation claim in the County Court against the agent of a landlord, furthering my knowledge of the CPR.
As Finance Officer of the […] Society, I organised an ‘Application & Life as a Corporate Lawyer Workshop’ with Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.
Participated in an International M&A Workshop with Baker McKenzie at CityLawLIVE Conference 2017.
2. Diversity & Inclusion
3. Client focus
4. Personal Achievements
5. Events attended