On the Radar

On the Radar: Baker McKenzie Career Journeys

Baker McKenzie Career Journeys
Sarah Roughead
Summer Clerk, Melbourne
Graduate, Melbourne
Associate, Melbourne

Starting Out

I joined Baker McKenzie as a graduate, after completing a clerkship and spending three months as a research clerk with the firm later that year. Through my experiences as a seasonal clerk and a research clerk, I knew that Bakers was the firm I wanted to work with. It was exciting working with large corporate international clients and liaising with two, three (and often more!) countries around the world. This, coupled with the firm’s broad base of domestic corporate clients and the wide range of “hands on” work I received, made Baker McKenzie an immediate stand out to me.

The fun, social and supportive culture at Bakers and the firm’s community focus and global offering were also reasons that I chose to accept a graduate position with Baker McKenzie.

Rotating through practice groups – it’s all about the “hands on” legal work

At Bakers, we undertake three rotations of six months each.

My first rotation was in Banking & Finance. There are two sides to Banking & Finance at Bakers – transactional banking and advisory banking. I was lucky enough to be exposed to a broad range of work from both sides. I assisted with financing and refinancing transactions which included drafting board and shareholder resolutions, preparing substantive transaction documents, assisting with signing and completion, and generally liaising with both clients and the lawyers for the other party(ies) to the transaction. On the advisory side, I regularly assisted with research and preparing letters of advice in relation to the application of the PPSA, the National Credit Code, Privacy and other laws relating to Financial Services. I also learnt the “ins and outs” of the PPSR which included how to create secured parties, register security interests and search the register.

My second rotation was in the Corporate Markets group. I was fortunate enough to work with almost everyone in the group during my rotation which meant that I experienced a broad range of work. I assisted with global reorganisations which involved preparing and reviewing transaction documents for Australia as well as other countries as part of the restructure of a global corporate group. I also assisted with both private and public M&A deals, corporate secretariat work and initial public offerings.

My final rotation was in the Dispute Resolution group. I had some great experiences during my rotation – including working on a number of large scale litigious matters predominantly in the Supreme Court. The matters I worked on were at varying stages of litigation, which meant that I got to experience the different sides of litigation start to finish. The types of tasks I carried out included drafting memoranda briefing Counsel, drafting various correspondence and letters of advice to clients, drafting affidavits and other Court documents, attending “strategy meetings” for litigation and reviewing court documents.

During all of these experiences, the most unexpected or surprising thing was the level of responsibility I was given. Sending emails directly to clients or having oneon-one discussions with clients was a regular occurrence in my day. This, combined with the wide range of work I was given and the in-depth mentoring I received from the lawyers, gave me the best opportunity to advance my practical and technical legal skills.

And whilst some of my experiences were challenging, I always received support and guidance from my supervisor, colleagues or buddy.

But there are other things…

It’s not all about the work at Baker McKenzie! The graduate program is about creating networks and friendships, getting involved in firm activities, learning and development activities and, of course, the parties!

One of my favourite things about the graduate experience was preparing the graduate revue. This involved spending a number of months with the other graduates filming skits about the funny, ironic or sometimes ridiculous aspects of firm life. The film is then shown at the end of year function. Although this required considerable work, it was an excellent way to get to know people in the firm and was one of the most exciting parts of the year! The learning and development opportunities during my graduate program included College of Law, Cornerstone (the firm’s professional development (PD) program for junior lawyers) and PD conferences – all of which develop junior lawyers’ legal and technical skills. In particular, the Melbourne graduates attended a ‘Corporate Intensive’ and ‘Dispute Resolution Intensive’ with the Sydney graduates. This meant travelling to Sydney twice, each for a two day period, where we received legal and practical training in relation to Dispute Resolution or Corporate matters. Not only was this extremely useful for developing my legal skills, it was also an excellent opportunity to get to know the Sydney graduates as well as the Sydney lawyers in the relevant teams.


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