Energy work is the “calling card” of Baker Botts, and technology is another major sector for the Texan titan.
APPLE, toast, marshmallow and, alas, earwax… Harry Potter fans might recognize these as some of the known flavors of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans. Swap candy for the legal industry and at this Botts you’ll find flavors of technology and a whole lot of energy – “Houston is the energy center of the US, after all!” One junior in HQ said: “Practicing law in Houston is almost synonymous with Baker Botts. We have such deep roots here and a massive name in Texas.” Here at Chambers Associate, we’re usually skeptical of such mighty claims, but Baker (jointly) rakes in more top-tier Chambers USA rankings in the state than any other firm – specifically for its work in environment, IP, appellate litigation, securities litigation, real estate, and tax.
As for its deep roots, Baker Botts has been booming in Texas since before the state was even born (or before it became part of the United States at least). Starting life in 1840 alongside players in the budding Texan railroad system, Baker Botts has blossomed over the past 180 years into a multi-practice, multi-jurisdictional mega firm, with half of its 14 offices located overseas in Asia and Europe. The firm’s strength in the energy sphere is best demonstrated by two top-tier rankings: Chambers USA rates its projects work in oil and LNG (that’s liquefied natural gas), while Chambers Global puts its worldwide projects and energy work in oil and gas among the best in the world. No wonder associates described themselves as “very intellectual – we’re the nerdiest law firm in Texas!” The firm also has offices in Dallas and Austin, as well as bases in DC, New York, San Francisco and Palo Alto.
Strategy & Future
Associates described a “financially conservative and risk-averse” approach at Baker Botts, “which means that we step into opportunities after we’ve seen how others have stumbled.” In the Houston HQ, those opportunities might be “branching out to startups” and working more with companies in renewables. “Our calling card has always been our work in the oil and gas sector,” one junior pointed out. “We’ll still be an energy-focused firm, and it’s exciting to be on the forefront of renewables.”
Around two-thirds of junior associates are hired into the firm’s Texas offices, with most in Houston, and around ten apiece in Dallas and Austin. Outside the Lone Star State, most juniors could be found in DC and New York. A couple of juniors are hired into the Palo Alto and a solo junior was recruited in the San Francisco office, which opened in 2015. Over a third of juniors joined the litigation group, making it the largest represented on our list, followed by corporate and IP. A handful of associates joined the global projects group, and there were just a couple in tax. A formal work allocation process “kicks things off when you start,” but it’s soon replaced by a more informal setup of partners approaching juniors with offers of work. Juniors can also “take control and offer assistance to partners working on things that interest me.”
The litigation department handles all kinds of securities, insurance, environment and white-collar matters in both a contentious and regulatory capacity. As you’d expect, Houstonians bag themselves a lot of energy-related litigation. Those working on typical oil and gas matters may be able to “help with the strategy of the case, pick and interview the experts, and then draft the expert reports.” Juniors were also excited to get on “super rewarding” renewable energy matters: “It’s great for the environment, great revenue for the companies, and great experience for us. It’s win, win, win in my book!” Over in DC, one source reckoned “about 50% of my work is appellate work, and a fair bit of that is Supreme Court related.” Lucky them – not everyone will get that kind of work. Regulation work gave juniors a shot at “drafting comments to federal and state agencies,” and they also helped troubleshoot compliance issues. More generally, junior litigators can expect to do the usual research, memo writing and doc review. Some also got the opportunity to attend depositions and draft summary judgment motions and arguments.
Litigation clients: Philips, Samsung, Chevron. Represented Dr Pepper in a series of lawsuits challenging the word ‘diet’ on the labels of the soft drink Diet Dr Pepper.
“Learning about the special crystals used in solar fields was fascinating.”
The corporate group handles a mix of M&A, capital markets, securities and private equity matters. One associate reckoned their work was “70% private M&A and 30% capital markets.” Unsurprisingly, working with big energy companies is typical. Working with a solar company proved popular, for example: “Learning about the special crystals used in solar fields was fascinating.” But the practice is broader than just the energy industry. New York, for example, has a niche in media and telecom transactions. Austin does some aviation finance and public securities work – “that law is complicated and really hard to research!” Associates here also noticed the office was tapping more and more into the city’s tech scene. Juniors undertook a lot of research and were responsible for “putting together huge disclosure documents – you have to really get into the depths of understanding the business.” Other tasks included drafting purchase agreements, sections of offering memoranda, sections of arguments and “a lot of general transaction maintenance like checklists, checking in on people and corresponding with local specialists.”
Corporate clients: BP, NASCAR, Carrizo Oil & Gas, El Paso Electric Company. Represented engineering and construction company McDermott International in its $6 billion merger with Chicago Bridge & Iron Company.
Associates outlined three prongs to the IP group: patent prosecution (filing patents), patent transactions (buying and selling patents), and patent litigation. “It’s attractive as a young lawyer to get experience in the different types,” interviewees said, adding that it was also fairly “challenging.” Over time, “you generally gravitate to a niche. I’m going into my third year and I had a discussion yesterday about working in transactional or litigation groups.” It’s common to start out with patent prosecution work as the “process-y” nature of the work makes it accessible to juniors. Juniors reported interviewing inventors, drafting applications and responding to challenges. Associates reckoned those with tech or electronics backgrounds had a better chance of getting litigation experience. The work here encompasses big tech disputes, International Trade Commission matters and a few district court cases. Juniors were responsible for research, analysis and discovery, as well as meeting experts, creating presentations and drafting portions of motions and petitions.
Meanwhile, medical and chemical backgrounds can come in handy for the transactional work, as juniors often do “landscape diligence” for medical device manufacturers – it means helping the client get a sense of the market they want to enter. This New York junior said: “What I find most interesting is assessing acquisition opportunities and identifying potential targets based on their portfolio.” Other transactional tasks for juniors included searching through patent databases, reviewing results and writing up their findings.
IP clients: Mastercard, Dell, Toyota, Facebook. Represented FUJIFILM in competitor lawsuits against Sony concerning magnetic data storage tapes and cartridges.
Juniors are assigned mentors when they start at the firm, but our interviewees reckoned “they never pan out because partners are too busy.” Still, most felt that the partners at Baker Botts had junior associates’ long-term goals in mind: “They’re interested in getting young lawyers out to develop the soft skills we need to hopefully one day put together a book of business.”
“There are partners that have been here their entire career.”
While no one really lamented the absence of a strict mentoring system, some thought that the yearly evaluation system could benefit from some tweaks: “They read out comments that everyone has written, but you don’t get to keep the comments, so it’s not helpful.” As is the case at many BigLaw firms, associates felt that the path to partnership at Baker “isn’t made clear or easy.” Some reckoned those who make it past the five-year mark at the firm tend to stick around for the long haul: “There are partners that have been here their entire career.”
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 requirement
Associates were unanimous that reaching the billing target “hasn’t been difficult in the slightest.” A big statement – but it checked out in our interviews. We heard of juniors’ annual hours coming in between just under 2,000 hours and all the way up to a daunting 2,500 hours. Bonuses are lockstep, with extra amounts awarded to those who go above and beyond, which “goes a long way to making long hours easier.”
“Leaving at 2am every day for a week can happen – but so can leaving at 4pm.”
Juniors typically found themselves in the office from 9am to 7pm, “and if I’m really busy, I log back on again after dinner.” This was common across offices, summarized best by this corporate interviewee: “Leaving at 2am every day for a week can happen – but so can leaving at 4pm.” Associates in Texas were “perfectly satisfied” with their market-level salary, though New Yorkers were left (jestingly) sour: “The cost of living in Texas makes me question why I’m living in New York when I could be saving so much more in Texas. I guess I can always move there…”
“Baker Botts is really committed to servicing the community,” junior associates told us proudly. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the firm sent their best and brightest from across offices to “help with recovery and outline services available for victims.” More regular work includes helping nonprofits, divorce work, veteran affairs, saving people from death row, and asylum and immigration work – “people really feel the urgency for that work right now.”
Juniors appreciated the firm’s attitude toward pro bono, explaining that “judges have reached out to Baker Botts in times of crisis, and people have been allowed to drop their work and step into trial straightaway.” Associates can bill all pro bono hours toward their target... within reason. Though some of our interviewees hadn’t done any pro bono, we heard of juniors logging between tens and hundreds of hours.
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 42,529
- Average per US attorney: 69.6
“They say Baker Botts is a nerdy law firm within Texas,” associates recalled from their application days. ‘Intellectual’ was the preferred term by interviewees across most offices, though a Houston junior voiced that “sometimes the pendulum can swing too far – there’s not a whole lot of excitement here.” Lots of associates have young families, so “we’re not going out crushing beers with friends!” Most of our interviewees were advocates of the quiet life: “I like being left alone in my office to do my own thing. That’s the personality type that thrives here.” And while litigation associates described themselves as “the bookworms” of the firm, we heard “corporate is a little bit more social.”
In Houston, “we lunch together and it helps to spread the load because you can tell which people are slammed and need assistance!” Juniors loved working in the downtown area of the city too, which “has amazing food places and cool stuff popping up.”Austin associates described “a smaller legal community which is very friendly.” This office is about to move from its current downtown spot to a “more up-and-coming location.”DC has just completed its own move – the new digs are “next to the Warner Theater near the White House. We’re going from dark wood to having glass and treadmill desks!”New Yorkers described a “supportive” culture, adding: “We don’t feel like a Texas firm in New York – I don’t notice the Texan side that much outside some of the work.”
Diversity & Inclusion
“We’ve had a big diversity push in the last couple years,” juniors agreed, “but there are growing pains.” Interviewees pointed to diversity workshops and affinity groups as examples of the firm’s efforts to focus on diversity and inclusion. Affinity groups hold events for days of significance and meet up every quarter. “I wish they did more,” one shared. “Networking opportunities would be nice.” The recent hiring of diversity chair Kathy Bowman-Williams has got people feeling hopeful: “She’s really cool and going to try get things in shape.” Texan associates highlighted that “the firm is good at supporting young families,” and an Austin associate praised the firm’s retention of women in particular.
- Baker Botts' 2020 summer program will be held entirely online and may be shortened.
- The firm has guaranteed full-time offers to all of its summer associates ahead of the program.
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 283
Interviewees outside OCI: 387
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: 700
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
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.” Summer 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
One Shell Plaza,
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
- Hiring partner: John Martin, Partner-in-Charge, Recruiting
- Diversity officer: Kathy Bowman-Williams, Director of Diversity & Inclusion
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2020: 42
- Clerking policy: Yes
- Summers joining/anticipated 2020: 123
- Summers joining/anticipated 2020 by office: Austin: 17; Dallas: 19; Houston: 33; New York: 16; Palo Alto: 4; San Francisco: 11; DC: 20
- Summer Salary 2020: 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 14 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 2020:
Baylor, Berkeley, Cardozo, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, George Mason, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, Houston, Loyola Patent Program, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Pennsylvania, SMU, St. John, Stanford, Texas, UC Hastings, UCLA, UC Davis, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Washington University, Yale, Bay Area Diversity Career Fair, Boston College/Boston University Job Fair, Harvard BLSA Job Fair, Lavender Law Job Fair, San Francisco IP Job Fair, Southeastern Minority Job Fair, and Texas in NY.
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Write-ins, Referrals, Judicial Clerkships, Baker Botts Winter 1L Open House (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, 2020
- Intellectual Property (Band 4)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Environment (Band 2)
- Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 4)
- Banking & Finance (Band 4)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A (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: General Commercial (Band 3)
- 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)
USA - Nationwide
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Climate Change (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (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 (Band 4)
- Oil & Gas Litigation (Band 1)
- Projects: LNG (Band 1)
- Projects: Oil & Gas (Band 1)
- Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 4)