Baker & McKenzie takes "global" to a whole new level, with
its plethora of global offices spanning every continent. The firm's
geographic and practice area diversification has enabled it to ride
out financial storms while outrunning a legion of BigLaw
These days, any firm with a few outposts outside its home city
or a number of foreign-based clients proudly awards itself an
"international law firm" sash. Baker & McKenzie, however,
pretty much coined the term: it is by many measures the largest law
firm in the world, with more than 4,200 attorneys (one-third of
whom are partners) covering hundreds of jurisdictions. Thanks to
the firm's sprawling network (76 offices in 47 countries, at last
count), Baker & McKenzie remains unique among law firms.
Diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords at the firm, which
includes citizens of over fifty countries who speak more than five
dozen languages-a vibrant community including just about every
race, color, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
Got a Map?
From the firm's early days in Chicago, founder Russell Baker
wove internationalism into his overall strategy. Spending part of
his youth in New Mexico, Baker learned Spanish and developed a
lifelong interest in other cultures. In 1948, Baker shared a cab
with trial lawyer John McKenzie, and by 1949, the two shared a
legal practice. In 1955, the partnership established its first
foreign office in Caracas to serve the interests of a Venezuelan
client; today Baker & McKenzie has numerous offices in Central
and South America (a region that many law firms entered years
later) and is the largest law firm in Mexico.
The firm has a plethora of offices outside the Americas as well,
with locations in all major financial centers. Interestingly, New
York has never been the main outpost for the firm; the Chicago
office-where the firm was founded-remains more than double the size
of New York. Nevertheless, London is the firm's largest office,
with more global heads based there than in any other office across
Baker's vast network.
Averaging just over one new office per year since its inception,
the firm has defined rapid and steady growth without losing its
reputation for quality legal work. Given its humble beginnings, its
incredible growth, and its worldwide strength, the firm is
understandably proud of its history. The firm's journey from that
Chicago cab to global prominence hasn't escaped notice-there's even
a book about it. Pioneering a Global Vision: The Story of Baker
& McKenzie (Harcourt Professional Education Group-Chicago)
provides a detailed look at the firm's history.