I start the day by grabbing a coffee. We are fortunate enough to have an on-site café, which provides a collaborative hub for meetings with colleagues and external clients. This is a great opportunity to learn more about what my colleagues are working on and to build friendships, which is key to Bakers' culture.
I joined Baker McKenzie as a Summer Clerk in 2015/2016. I remained involved in the Firm as a Library Research Clerk while I completed my Bachelor of Law/Communications at the University of Technology, Sydney. I completed graduate rotations in our Corporate Markets, Banking & Finance, and Commercial Real Estate teams, before settling in Intellectual Property. In a global firm, no two days are ever the same. However, the outline of a typical day below will give you a sense of the broad range of work I experience at Bakers on a daily basis.
As I settle in at my desk, I check my inbox and make a list of priorities and other tasks for the day. I am involved in a number of matters at any time and staying up to date with the latest developments requires me to be organised. Consequently, I get to see how my work product contributes to the overall progress of court proceedings or a complex transaction.
For most matters, I am responsible for reporting to clients and communicating with other firms directly. This is exciting because it allows me to develop a rapport with the client, gain first-hand appreciation of their unique business strategy and expectations (including their risk appetite, which often influences the advice we provide), and learn about how I can offer quality client service and legal advice that is both technically accurate and commercial. I may also be responsible for deadlines, for example, for the filing of evidence in court proceedings or satisfaction of conditions precedent in a transaction. Strong matter management skills are essential.
I meet with and take instructions from one of the partners in the group. While my Supervising Partner is responsible for my workload, I'm encouraged to work with as many people as possible in the group. By working across the floor for several different work providers, I receive exposure to a variety of work and experience their different working styles and areas of expertise.
The partners I work with offer support and guidance while encouraging me to take ownership of matters in which I am involved. For example, I get to assist global brand owners with local intellectual property protection and enforcement programs, undertake due diligence in relation to intellectual property components of M&A transactions, act for clients involved in disputes relating to intellectual property and consumer law, and advise clients on the compliance of marketing content with advertising laws.
Back at my desk, I turn my attention to the billable work that I have been assigned. Some of the tasks I am currently working on include:
Lunchtime. Today, I'm attending a professional development session on current issues in the marketing of alcoholic products. The Firm is constantly running a wide variety of professional development sessions, aimed at different levels of experience and practice areas. Some are locally-based and others are delivered at a regional, industry-group level. Some sessions delve into developing legal concepts or the complexities of recent deals we have acted in and key takeaways to consider in future work. Others focus on professional skills and are targeted at graduates and junior associates. These sessions include plain English drafting workshops, lessons on delivering client service and commercial advice, and core practical Cornerstone modules about relevant areas of corporate law and legal practice. As a junior lawyer, opportunities to engage with such varied content and build my knowledge and expertise in different areas of interest is extremely important.
I'm back at my desk and those documents aren't going to review or draft themselves. Luckily, if I am ever unsure how to proceed, I can ask my associate buddy, supervising partner, or another of my team members for guidance. They are always willing to assist and are generous with their time.
This afternoon, I've put aside some time to work on my current pro bono assignment, which is supervised by Women's Legal Services NSW and involves preparing an application to Victims Services for a recognition payment to my client, who has been the victim of a crime. I am passionate about our pro bono programs and I am proud that Bakers actively encourages associates' engagement in pro bono work as part of our professional responsibility. At Bakers, time dedicated to pro bono counts as billable work and each associate has an aspirational target of 50 hours of pro bono work per lawyer, per year. I volunteer for pro bono programs or research tasks that I can complete from my desk and which fit flexibly around my other commitments. In addition to giving back to the community, it provides me with a valuable opportunity to develop my technical legal skills and form connections with lawyers in other practice groups, with whom I might not otherwise get the chance to work.
I've finished work for the day but, before I head home, I update my list of outstanding tasks so that I have a clear plan for tomorrow. Tonight, I will do some planning for my attendance at the upcoming Asia Pacific Mid-Level Associates' Meeting (APMAM), which will take place in one of our overseas offices. APMAM is attended by associates transitioning from junior to mid-level positions across the Asia-Pacific region and includes professional development sessions to build essential skills needed as a Baker McKenzie associate. I'm excited about the opportunity to network with colleagues in my wider Baker McKenzie network. This is particularly important given I regularly receive instructions or request assistance from overseas offices because our clients are global and their needs span multiple jurisdictions.