This 180-year old Texan maintains its market-leading status in the Lone Star State while expanding its brand on both coasts.
Yep, you heard us. It’s been 180 years since Baker Botts first set up shop in Houston – plenty of time to make a name for itself as a “leader in the local market.” The energy sector is the biggest of big deals in Texas, so it makes sense that the firm has “a strong energy pillar going across a variety of departments.” Junior associates told us “that type of work” attracted them to Baker Botts, along with other practice strengths. Chambers USA ranks the firm among the best in the country for its oil and gas and LNG projects prowess; BB also earns impressive nationwide rankings for antitrust, energy and environment.
The firm has baked up prize-worthy practices in New York, DC and California, but still shines brightest in the Lone Star State, topping the state tables for environment, IP, litigation, real estate and tax. We heard however that Bakers isn’t “centered on the idea of Texas” and the firm has multiple offices on both US coasts – New York and DC in the East, Palo Alto and San Francisco out West – on top of its three Texas bases. Baker Botts still takes on its biggest pool of junior associates in its Houston HQ; Dallas and New York house around a dozen each, with DC and Austin rounding out the main recruiting grounds (the West Coast offices hire very small cohorts).
“…doesn’t fit the mold of a historically southern, conservative law firm.”
Sources admitted “there’s always going to be a little siloing between offices because of geography,” but felt that “at least within departments, things feel well connected with folks in other offices.” Others added that Baker Botts “doesn’t fit the mold of a historically southern, conservative law firm – it’s very laidback and no one ever yells at anyone!”
Litigation was the most common practice area destination for newcomers, but corporate and intellectual property weren’t far behind. The smaller global projects and tax departments also take several juniors each year. Across the board, most sources reported a relatively free-market work assignment system: “There’s a formal database that summers can go to and find assignments, but that formality falls away pretty quickly. Following that, the onus is on you as an associate to develop relationships and look for work.”
“Associates are able to do major drafting for motions.”
Baker Botts litigators tend to begin with a broad practice covering areas like general commercial, oil and gas litigation, securities, white-collar and criminal defense and mass tort litigation. “I’ve done everything that has come through the door that needed an associate,” one said. They and others were pleased with the responsibility they’d received and told us “associates are able to do major drafting for motions.” Here’s an example from a recent securities case: “I was essentially told to read the case complaint and write the motion, which was cool to do as a second-year.”Houston litigators had their fill of energy cases, while DC dishes out plenty of appellate work. When document review needs doing it’s “reasonably likely” that it will fall to juniors, but interviewees emphasized “it’s not a case of spending all hours of every day on it!” Juniors instead get a “training docket” made up of several small cases (car accidents are a common option) to handle single-handed, meaning they “take the depositions and manage the case.”
Litigation clients: Liberty Media, Keurig Dr Pepper, Ernst & Young. Represented the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) in a state lawsuit alleging destruction or failure to maintain or replace six dams.
Patent prosecution and litigation fall to the intellectual property team. Trademark work and corporate branding belong here too, but now sit as their own distinct group. Some juniors reckoned that their early practice involved “a higher percentage of patent prosecutions,” for which they were “drafting the patents and responding to the patent office if an application was rejected.” They felt such cases gave them “a good grounding and solid understanding of what a patent is, and the important features of patents.” Sources in New York were “working with a number of life sciences clients – that industry is quite patent-heavy,” and typically “reviewed the IP portfolios of companies being acquired.” IP litigation is also available to juniors, several of whom “second-chaired depositions” and even took some of their own. Other tasks included “drafting expert reports and conducting research to defend opponents’ assertions.”
IP clients: Toyota, Dell, PepsiCo. Acted for Baylor College of Medicine in a patent infringement case brought by Gensetix, a licensee of immune-cancer therapy patents.
“In some instances, I’ve been asked to lead transactions fairly early on.”
In corporate too, entry-level arrivals maintain a generalist practice for their first few years. Those we interviewed kept busy with M&A deals, capital markets and “assisting institutional clients with general issues.” Responsibilities also varied: “In some instances, I’ve been asked to lead transactions fairly early on,” one junior recalled. “Other times, I’ve had a more typical junior role, conducting diligence and the like.” Sources also “coordinated admin with auditors” as well as “negotiating terms sheets.” Energy companies are mainstay clients, but that’s not all, folks: the team in New York specializes in media and telecom transactions, for instance.
Corporate clients: Tallgrass Energy, Shell Midstream, BP America. Advised the Australian investment firm IFM in the $10.3 billion acquisition of petroleum distributor Buckeye Partners.
Baker Botts’ model for development revolves around “giving you work that is maybe a bit above your level,” according to our junior sources. This approach meant many were able to get exposure like “courtroom and case management experience” early in their careers, but some felt these experiences represented “more responsibility than we’re ready for.” The firm does also host lectures and “CLEs led by partners,” which went virtual throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“…giving you work that is maybe a bit above your level.”
Interviewees described the partner track as “an achievable path if a person is dedicated to taking it.” Some did fear that partnership was “becoming less achievable,” in part because Baker Botts recently extended the number of years’ experience required to become partnerfrom eight to nine. Those associates with plans beyond the firm felt the Baker Botts name “still carries weight in Houston,” and has a “great reputation” that would help them with their future careers.
“It’s the thing that has genuinely impressed me about the firm,” a smiley source said. “They really do encourage pro bono.” With up to 200 pro bono hours counting toward billable credit, others felt it’s “definitely emphasized” by firm policy. Houston insiders had worked on “a lot of immigration cases with Tahirih Justice Center” as well as more varied matters with Houston Volunteer Lawyers; juniors in New York also mentioned working on pro bono “with zero pushback,” but suggested “the programs aren’t as robust as those in the larger Texas offices.”Dallas interviewees had their fill of family law matters, estate planning and landlord/tenant disputes; the firm also “staffs clinics in town” including the Dallas Housing Crisis Center.
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 50,152
- Average per US attorney: undisclosed
Hours, Compensation & Culture
Billable hours: 2,000 requirement
In addition to 200 pro bono hours, attorneys can count up to 60 hours of management-approved nonbillable time toward their requirement. Hitting 2,000 makes you eligible for a bonus: “At some firms, not hitting the bonus requirement puts you in bad standing, but that’s not the case at Baker Botts.” Sources were keen to stress throughout that hitting the hours target “does not define your personal value to the firm.” Most felt the big 2k is nonetheless achievable, albeit less so in 2020 as a result of COVID-19’s effects. There’s no loafing around at this Baker: some kicked off their days earlier (around 8:30am), while others preferred a later start (closer to 10am), but the hours can be demanding as at any large firm. “Partners don’t have hang-ups about people leaving at 5:30pm to have dinner then working for an hour or two more in the evening,” we heard. “There isn’t a ‘midnight in the office’ type culture.”
“There isn’t a ‘midnight at the office’ type culture.”
Juniors instead described a common culture “in terms of how everyone interacts and gets along definitely, that stands out. Across the whole firm, people are genuinely enjoyable, down to earth, and fun to hang out with.” Others emphasized that “everyone really seems to like and care about one another. Baker Botts is full of easygoing people who deliver high-quality work product.” The process of creating said work product inevitably includes the occasional late night, but a source suggested “they’re more tolerable when you get along with the people.”DC has recently moved to shiny new premises, while those in Austin can look forward to returning to a fancy newbuild office in due course.
Diversity & Inclusion
Across the board we heard that Baker Botts is making an “earnest effort” to improve its diversity and inclusion measures. “There’s certainly been a push for it lately, given all the recent events here in the States.” Responses to what’s become an international paradigm shift have included the firm “restating objectives and asking for input on how to achieve more representation at higher levels.” Along with industry-standard affinity groups, the firm hosts “speaker series on various topics” and networking/happy hour events. Bakers also offers a diversity fellowship open to first- and second-year law students and runs a targeted 1L IP diversity fellowship in partnership with AT&T.
Strategy & Future
Having already established itself as a Texan titan, juniors reasoned that Baker Botts has a “vision of strengthening its main practices on both coasts of the US.” Juniors also reiterated the firm's strategy of "organizing our practices into pillars, and focusing on those," which continued throughout 2020.
“A vision of strengthening its main practices on both coasts of the US.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 1,042
Interviewees outside OCI: 40
Baker Botts attends 43 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 Elizabeth Krichmar 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.”
Krichmar 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 Elizabeth Krichmar
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 300
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.” Krichmar 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 Elizabeth Krichmar
Acceptances: 22 (plus 18 returning 1Ls from 2020)
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 Elizabeth Krichmar
Baker Botts LLP
910 Louisiana Street,
- Head Office: Houston, TX
- Number of domestic offices: 7
- Number of international offices: 7
- Partners (US): 249
- Associates (US): 363
- Main recruitment contact: Elizabeth Krichmar, Director of Recruiting
- Diversity officer: Kathy Bowman-Williams, Director of Diversity & Inclusion
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2021: 63
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 78
- Summers joining/anticipated 2021 by office: Austin: 9; Dallas: 20; Houston: 21; New York: 8; Palo Alto: 4; San Francisco: 6; DC: 10
- Summer Salary 2021: 1Ls: $3,654/week 2Ls: $3,654/week Post 3Ls: $3,654/week
- 1Ls hired? Yes
- Split summers offered? Splits between offices are limited and available on a case-by-case basis
- Can summers spend time in overseas office? No
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 725 lawyers and 13 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.
or 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 2021:
Alabama, Baylor, Berkeley, Case Western, Cardozo, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, George Mason, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, Howard, Houston, Loyola Patent Program, LSU, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Pennsylvania, SMU, St. John, Stanford, Texas, Texas in New York, Tulane, UC Hastings, UCLA, UC Davis, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Santa Clara, Washington University, Yale, Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Boston College/Boston University Job Fair, Lavender Law Job Fair, San Francisco IP Job Fair, Southeastern Minority Job Fair.
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: www.bakerbotts.com/careers/
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2021
- Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 4)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- Media & Entertainment: Corporate (Band 4)
- Banking & Finance (Band 4)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 2)
- Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Electricity) (Band 2)
- Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Oil & Gas) (Band 2)
- 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 3)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 5)
- Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (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)
- International Arbitration: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Oil & Gas Litigation (Band 1)
- Projects: LNG (Band 1)
- Projects: Oil & Gas (Band 1)
- Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 5)
- Tax: Controversy (Band 5)
- Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 4)