Baker Botts is the OG Texan powerhouse and serves up generalist opportunities across two main sectors: energy and technology.
You don’t get more Texas than Baker Botts: “There are a few powerhouse Texan firms, but Baker Botts is the oldest.” As you might expect from a firm with longevity in the Lone Star State, energy is a big deal at BB, but so is technology sector work. “I was interested in the energy industry,” a source recalled, “but BB’s emphasis on private equity and public company work distinguishes us from other surrounding firms. We have a lot of very sophisticated Fortune 200 clients in Texas.” Another distinguishing factor is the extent of BB’s IP practice: “The firm has a complete practice in this respect, so you can do a mix of litigation, transactional, and prosecution IP work – there are more opportunities for IP lawyers here.”
"The energy transition has been a big focus for our older company clients, but we are also taking on new clients in the renewable space."
Almost 60% of the associates on our list were based in BB’s Texas offices across Houston (the HQ), Dallas, and Austin, but the New York and DC bases also housed a significant number. The rest were working out of the firm’s California offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto. In its home state of Texas, Baker Botts comes out on top in Chambers USA in areas like IP, litigation, and environment, while its energy, technology, and corporate work is highly regarded. Over in New York, the firm’s white-collar crime practice is notable, while on a nationwide basis BB is a strong competitor when it comes to all things tied to energy and projects work, as well as antitrust and international arbitration matters.
Baker Botts’ corporate department housed the most juniors on our list, followed closely behind by the firm’s IP and litigation practices – a small handful were based in the global projects group. In corporate, we were told that a free-market assignment approach is in place, with a steady stream of work emerging from regular clients: “The nature of our work means that you will get put on client teams, and you’ll be asked to work on any deals that are required for a particular client, whether it’s M&A, private equity, capital markets, or corporate governance related. You have a generalist practice and are very knowledgeable about your clients.” The litigation group has “workflow coordinators, but I also go to partners directly as I have such strong relationships with them – I tend to prefer the informal assignment method!” In IP, assignment is also quite informal, which sources liked: “It’s better to have this freedom and I feel comfortable turning work down!”
Corporate sources told us that their department was awash with energy and technology clients. “In Texas there’s a big energy market, so we work with a lot of utility and refinement companies,” an interviewee informed us. “The energy transition has been a big focus for our older company clients, but we are also taking on new clients in the renewable space. We are creating new areas as new laws and regulations come in around the energy transition.” On M&A deals, “I’m communicating with local counsels in other jurisdictions and guiding them through the due diligence protocols – I've really enjoyed that collaboration and working on international deals, which is about 50% of my work.” Sources found that “juniors get a lot of responsibility and client contact through emails. You can be drafting registration statements and handling SEC filings, and as a third year associate you might be drafting more disclosure documents. You’re asked to make a lot of judgements and decisions!”
Corporate clients: Liberty Media Corporation, Centerpoint Energy, Coterra Energy. Advised Cabot on its $17 billion merger with Cimarex Energy.
“...the matters are high energy and collaborative, which adds to the excitement.”
Litigators also spoke of the generalist nature of their practice: “Despite being a Texas-based firm with energy litigation, my cases have felt very diverse and have encompassed telecoms and entertainment clients, as well as IP cases.” A junior added that “we do get a lot of work from the corporate department when they have litigation needs. There’s a lot of employment work, as well as environmental and regulatory matters.” This interviewee was happy to tell us that they “wrote a motion to dismiss within my first few months at the firm. I was expecting to do doc review for a year or two! I also got a mixture of client contact and research assignments – I've really enjoyed the work so far.” Another perk is that “the matters are high energy and collaborative, which adds to the excitement. You get a fair amount of motion practice, which is great as you can be working on motions for summary judgement on big cases where everything is hanging in the balance!”
Litigation clients: AT&T, Dell Technologies, Credit Suisse Securities USA. Representing pharmaceutical company Assertio Therapeutics during nationwide opioid litigation.
Those in the IP department were enthusiastic about the variety of options available to them: “Baker Botts has expanded the IP group, which means you can get work across the litigation and patent prosecution areas.” On the latter, “you can be handling the patents for all kinds of stuff, including many social media apps.” Elsewhere, you can expect exposure to “well known brands for the most part, and on the tech side we do a lot of work for software, medical device, and automotive clients.” Sources found that “responsibility grows over time. The partners have empowered me to seek out work and I took my first deposition last year. I’ve also been able to do inter partes review cases where I’ve been killing patents and defending patents!” Other responsibilities included drafting patent applications for prosecution matters, as well as researching and writing briefs on the litigation side.
IP clients: Cisco Systems, Ericsson, Toyota North America Motor. Recently represented AT&T against United Access Technologies (UAT), which accused the company of infringing three patents.
“People expect Baker Botts to be a conservative firm because of our roots in the Texan energy market, but that’s not the vibe here at all,” a source proclaimed. Another acknowledged that “the firm has a reputation for being more old school, but I don’t think that’s the case now.” What interviewees did experience was “a very positive culture that feels genuine – the working relationships that I have with partners are easy and friendly.” This junior noted that “there’s isn’t a turn and burn culture here compared to other firms. The vast majority of our partners started as summers and associates, so there’s a general expectation that you’ll stay – they're not squeezing you for as much as they can take!”
“...this is a firm where the partners’ dogs are on the zoom calls.”
As a result, an interviewee felt that “the firm’s culture is a real selling point. By the third person I met during the interview process, I felt comfortable enough to crack corny jokes! I didn’t expect to go to work and enjoy the people as much as I do.” There was an overriding sense that “this is a ‘Life comes first’ culture. It’s one where the emphasis is on us growing with the firm. It’s about hiring good people, looking after them and making sure they’re happy.” Part of that happiness stemmed from feeling “supported: even as a junior associate I’m free to express my opinion on cases in front of partners, and I feel that I am contributing to strategy decisions.” Ultimately, “this is a firm where the partners’ dogs are on the zoom calls – I should know their names, but I don’t!”
Juniors are assigned a partner mentor straight awayand the set-up received a major thumbs up. “My partner mentor is very good and is open to me asking questions,” said one source. “During COVID we did a weekly call and they helped me to find extra work if I needed it.” Others told us that “the firm gives you money to arrange mentorship activities – you get something like $100 to go and grab coffee or lunch outside of work.” Juniors found that these informal mentorship relationships formed quite easily and were beneficial: “It’s great to speak with people who have already gone through what you currently going through.”
“...having the freedom to shape my practice has been huge for me.”
Beyond mentorship and formal training programs (such as the NITA deposition and advocacy workshops for litigators and IP associates), we heard that the firm gets behind any extracurriculars that will boost career development. “I do a lot of external networking and the firm is very supportive of that,” commented one associate. “As soon as they heard about my interests, they were encouraging me to go to these events and have conversations with the right people.” This junior agreed and said that “having the freedom to shape my practice has been huge for me – I have attended more client development events in the last year than I ever did at my last firm!” This led interviewees to state that “partnership feels like an attainable goal. Everyone that was up for partner in corporate in Houston last year made it. There’s not necessarily the expectation that you have your own book of business, but that’s always beneficial!”
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 target
Most sources agreed that the bonus target was achievable, with a corporate interviewee confidently proclaiming that they’d “got to that number pretty easily without much thought,” and an IP junior telling us that they were “ahead of pace this year: there are no consequences for not making those hours – I didn’t one year – apart from you not getting a bonus!” Associates can count up to 200 hours of pro bono and management approved non-billable time (MANB) towards the target. MANB time includes the likes of business development pitches, DE&I activities, and serving as a firm ambassador on campuses during recruitment periods – there is a 100-hour limit to MANB contributions towards the bonus. “The most recent bonuses were above market, which shows that the firm is financially healthy!” an interviewee enthused. Lockstep bonuses are paid out when associates hit their target, but there are additional, discretionary amounts to potentially earn for high billers and those who perform exceptionally well.
“...there’s a light at the end of the tunnel when things get busy!”
An average day for corporate associates lasted between eight and ten hours: “That’s my happy place and I find that I don’t go incredibly overboard on that schedule, but there are times when things ramp up and you can be working almost double what you usually do, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel when things get busy!” For IP sources, “you might be working up to eight hours over your weekends to catch up or stay ahead, but the average weekday runs from 9am to 7pm.” Litigators, meanwhile, said they were billing “around eight hours a day, but in the build up to a trial the hours will go up. They definitely support us when the hours get intense, and the outlook is ‘If you’re billing too much, there’s probably someone who isn’t billing enough and could do that work instead,’ so they reorganize to ensure everyone has equitable working hours.”
While 200 hours is the official limit on billable pro bono, “you can now reach out and apply for extensions pretty easily.” With that incentive, our interviewees had got stuck into a variety of matters. “The partners will often send out mass emails covering matters that they are looking for help on,” a source told us, while another added that “the cases are typically screened by an agency, like a domestic violence shelter, so winning the case is a good, moral thing. You can step away from commercial litigation and talk to your client who is worried about her kids and act to get the best outcome for her.”
“We have the full support of the firm, but we’re leading the cases.”
Associates told us about their work on family law and child custody cases, as well as LGBTQ+ matters in Texas; prisoners’ rights cases; and contract negotiations/formations for non-profit clients. “We have the full support of the firm, but we’re leading the cases,” a source told us. “You see the case from the very beginning and it’s fascinating. I’ve argued in front of a judge and have taken depositions in my first year.”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
“The firm has been making more of an effort over the past couple of years,” a source observed, adding: “The incoming classes are more representative of the law school population, and more women have been promoted to the partnership.” On the subject of gender diversity, sources felt that the firm is supportive of female associates who want to have children and commented on instances where women returned to work part-time after giving birth and progressed through the ranks: “They’re very supportive of that. They understand that people want a career and also to be able to have the time to look after their kid.”
“That really has opened the door for a lot more people to engage with affinity and support groups.”
This interviewee felt that the shift to virtual platforms during the pandemic had positively impacted the firm’s affinity networks: “That really has opened the door for a lot more people to engage with affinity and support groups across the firm’s offices. For example, there are enough people in the support groups across the firm to engage in pride and action initiatives. The firm also sponsors a lot of diversity events.” We heard that “the women’s group meets twice a month for social activities, which are fun and the attendance is pretty good.”
Strategy & Future
“We get strategic roundups a few times a year,” a source informed us. “One of the firm’s principles is to not grow for the sake of growing – there'll be no expansion without a thorough plan and we’ll be taking conservative steps forward.” We heard that BB has been “opening new offices strategically” and associates pointed to the firm’s launch in Singapore in 2022: the opening marked a return to the Asia market after BB closed its Hong Kong and Beijing bases in recent years.
“...it's partnering its IP practice up with its venture capital arm.”
Closer to home, a corporate source suggested that BB “wants to position itself at the forefront of clean tech – it's partnering its IP practice up with its venture capital arm, as there are more energy startups now than there has been over the last few years. I expect it [clean tech] to become a cornerstone for the firm.” An IP associate, meanwhile, said: “The focus on energy will not fade, but I think they are strategically trying to grow the technology practice.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: Around 1100
Baker Botts attends 45 law school OCIs and job fairs, as well as soliciting resume collections from 27 additional law schools. Partners, senior and junior associates interview students. Director of recruiting Alison Ketabchi tells us that interviewers ask questions “ranging from topics provided on the resume, professional experience, academic achievements, as well as questions to solicit insight into the student’s leadership skills, commitment to excellence, dedication, and commitment to client service.”
Ketabchi advises applicants to “be prepared,” and “do their homework on the firm and the interviewer.” A successful and “meaningful” interview comes when the student can “articulate why they are specifically interested in our firm and the particular geographic market.”
Top tips for this stage:
“I was looking for a local firm that had some prestige, some weight, some history. And those are all pieces of the Baker Botts puzzle.” – a junior associate
“You have worked hard to achieve the academic success that has led to the interview. Don’t undermine that hard work by failing to put your best foot forward.” – director of recruiting Alison Ketabchi
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 241
Students meet with four to eight lawyers on their callback interview, “depending on their practice area interest and office preference.” Interviewees meet a “cross-section of lawyers of varying seniority,” in their practice area of interest and practice areas outside that. Questions on the day are similar to the ones at OCI, but go more in-depth, “providing a better opportunity to share information.” Ketabchi advises students to do their research in preparation for the day: “This enables them to articulate why they are specifically interested in Baker Botts and the particular office.”
Top tips for this stage:
“The firm didn’t feel egotistical. They were real people first and then they’re lawyers. I knew it was a good fit for me when I saw people having interests in addition to their busy work schedules.” – a junior associate
“Students should also be enthusiastic during the interview day. The firm is investing time and resources to invite the student back for more interviews and wants to see that the student is excited to be there..” – director of recruiting Alison Ketabchi
Acceptances: 16 (plus 26 returning 1Ls from 2022)
Baker Botts' summer program aims to give summer associates the “opportunity to work on real and meaningful client work; participate in training relevant to their level and experience; learn about our firm, its culture and long history; and engage with our lawyers in both professional and casual, social settings.” Summers select their work and projects based on their practice area interests. The “cornerstone” of the program is Baker Weekend, where all summers come together for a weekend of training, presentations and “fun!” There are also other regular events where summers can “explore the city and foster professional relationships, with our lawyers and each other, that will last long after graduation.” Summers who return to the firm as junior associates are assigned to departments based on their preference, decided after sampling a variety of work during their summer program.
Top tips for this stage:
“I’m a serious person, I like get my work done and the party atmosphere is not something that reached out and grabbed me. During my summer, Baker Botts seems family-oriented and down-to-earth.” – a junior associate
“Impressions formed during the summer program carry through the student’s career. While they may not yet possess the experience or practice area knowledge, they can demonstrate attributes that will make people eager to work with them, now and in the future – positive attitude, willingness to step in and help, dedication, follow through, and follow-up to see what else can be done to help.” – director of recruiting Alison Ketabchi
Baker Botts LLP
910 Louisiana Street,
Main areas of work
Based on our broad experience and our in-depth knowledge of our clients’ industries, we are recognized as a leading firm in energy and technology. Core practice areas include project development and finance; corporate transactions; complex business litigation; international arbitration; antitrust; intellectual property; environmental; compliance and enforcement; tax; employee benefits; and real estate.
Baker Botts is a globally respected law firm with 664 lawyers and 12 offices around the world. We are driven by the highest ethical and professional standards. This professionalism, combined with industry knowledge and insights and our understanding of the law, helps us to deliver effective, innovative solutions for our clients.
For more than 177 years, Baker Botts has delivered results-oriented services, establishing us as a leading law firm. Our reputation is complemented by our leadership in government, the judiciary and our communities. Regardless of size, sector or jurisdiction of a client, our commitment is to help achieve their business objectives.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022:
Alabama - Texas Interview Program, Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Baylor, Boston College/Boston University Job Fair in New York, Berkeley, Cardozo, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, George Mason - Antitrust Job Fair, George Washington, Georgetown, George Washington Job Fair in New York, Harvard, Houston, Howard, Lavender Law, Loyola Patent Law, LSU, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Pennsylvania, Santa Clara, Southeastern Minority Job Fair, SMU, Stanford, Sunbelt Diversity Program, Texas, Texas - On Tour Interview Program, Tulane, UC Davis, UC Hastings, UC Irvine, UCLA, USC, UVA, Vanderbilt, Washington University, Yale.
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Write-ins, Referrals, Judicial Clerkships, Baker Botts (all US offices)
Summer associate profile:
Baker Botts lawyers are selected from the top graduates among the best law schools. We have formally established a set of core attributes we seek in candidates; some of which include leadership, collegiality, dedication, and commitment to excellence.
Summer program components:
Our philosophy is to allow summer associates to sample work in practice areas in which they are interested. Written and oral work evaluations are strongly encouraged and monitored. Each summer associate has both partner and associate advisors. All summer associates receive formal performance evaluations during the summer program. Baker Weekend, the cornerstone of our summer program, brings together summer associates and lawyers from all seven of our U.S. offices for a weekend of training and social events. Our summer associates learn about our firm through interactive panel discussions and informal break-out sessions with firm leadership and enjoy socializing with each other and our attorneys in a fun, casual setting.
Recruitment website: https://www.bakerbotts.com/careers/careers-at-baker-botts
Diversity Information: https://www.bakerbotts.com/aboutus/diversity
Twitter: @bakerbotts: https://twitter.com/bakerbotts
Facebook: BakerBottsLLP: https://www.facebook.com/BakerBottsLLP
Instagram: @bakerbotts: https://www.instagram.com/bakerbotts/
LinkedIn: baker-botts-llp: https://www.linkedin.com/company/baker-botts-llp/mycompany/
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023
- Environment (Band 5)
- Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 4)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 3)
- Environment (Band 1)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 3)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- Media & Entertainment: Corporate (Band 3)
- Banking & Finance (Band 3)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 3)
- Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Electricity) (Band 1)
- Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Oil & Gas) (Band 1)
- Environment (Band 1)
- Intellectual Property (Band 1)
- Litigation: Appellate (Band 1)
- Litigation: Securities (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 1)
- Technology: Corporate & Commercial (Band 2)
Texas: Austin & Surrounds
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
Texas: Houston & Surrounds
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
- Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
USA - Nationwide
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Antitrust: Cartel (Band 3)
- Climate Change (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 5)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 5)
- Energy Transition (Band 1)
- Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 5)
- Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 2)
- Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 4)
- Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 2)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Appellate (Band 2)
- International Arbitration: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337) (Band 5)
- Life Sciences (Band 5)
- Occupational Safety and Health (Band 3)
- Oil & Gas Litigation (Band 1)
- Projects: LNG (Band 1)
- Projects: Oil & Gas (Band 2)
- Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 5)
- Tax: Controversy (Band 5)
- Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 4)