Baker Botts LLP - The Inside View

This Texan titan is skilled in all things related to energy and technology. 

Baker Botts burst into existence in the Lone Star State back in 1840 and it’s fair to say that this shining star hasn’t dimmed its light ever since. The firm keeps things nice and simple by focusing on two key sectors: energy and technology. Energy prowess is something you might expect from a Texas-founded firm, and BB has it in bucketloads: the firm is ranked in Chambers USA for its litigious, transactional and regulatory expertise in this sector, especially when it comes to the electricity and oil and gas (including liquefied natural gas) spaces. BB also receives nods for its renewables and climate change know how.

Litigation and IP are two big practices at BB, and almost two thirds of the associates on our list were working within them. On the former side, BB picks up Chambers USA praise for its appellate, securities, general commercial, international arbitration, and white-collar and government investigations capabilities. On the latter, BB is recognized for its patent, trademark and copyright work, which was a major draw for our sources who were interested in the practice: “The IP group here allows me to handle all types of IP work instead of splitting litigation, prosecution, etc… like other firms tend to.” We did hear that in this area “the firm considers your prior experience, as our practice is quite niche. Most attorneys come from science or engineering degrees.”

“... prestige in Texas.”

BB’s highly ranked environment practice was another reason a few sources joined, while this associate represented the transactional contingent when they commented on the firm’s “excellent corporate practice [ranked in Chambers USA’s elite category in Texas] and strong M&A deal offering.” Weaving all these factors together was a common sense of the firm’s “prestige in Texas.” The majority of the associates on our list was based in BB’s Texas bases – Houston, Austin and Dallas – but a number could be found in the firm’s New York,DC,San Francisco, and Palo Alto offices.

Strategy & Future 



“The firm is building on its energy, tech and life sciences capabilities,” an associate informed us, echoing another insider who reasoned that  "though the firm has historically  been focused on energy, it's definitely looking to position itself as an IP and technology leader." Although a solid majority of our survey respondents express confidence in the firm's trajectory, many also felt the firm could so a better job of communicating its strategy to the junior level.

The Work 



BB’s litigation, IP, and corporate departments housed the majority of associates on our list, but the global projects and tax groups also took on a handful each. Across the board, juniors told us that a relatively free-market assignment approach is in place: “It’s a mix of associates reaching out to partners and partners reaching out to us. The partners also talk among themselves to find out who is available and who might have capacity to handle more work.” This interviewee was glad to report that “partners are cognizant of our current workload, so it’s rare for you to feel overwhelmed with work.” 

“The work is really interesting, and the firm allows juniors to lean into the more difficult cases, so I’m really happy here.”

The litigation department covers areas like general commercial, oil and gas, environmental, securities, and white-collar and criminal defense matters. Day-to-day, associates attend meetings, take client calls, prepare witness statements, write comments and conduct research. Sources were content with their experiences so far in the practice: “The work is really interesting, and the firm allows juniors to lean into the more difficult cases, so I’m really happy here.” One interviewee was particularly happy to see a trial through to completion: “I was exposed to the discovery stage, compiling expert reports, and cross-examinations – the partner gave me a lot of responsibility.” On the environmental side, attorneys are often engaging with new rules and regulations that have been enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency. “A recent rule was tied to the Endangered Species Act,” a source noted, before going on to explain that “a company or entity could be in violation of that act if, for example, an eagle was killed after landing on a transmission line.” Other cases could see associates defending a permit that had been previously granted for the construction of an LNG pipeline – Clean Air Act considerations could be a factor in these matters. This associate had a handy tip: “I try to get all my writing done before 9am, as during the day I have meetings and client calls!”

Commercial litigation clients: Chevron, Advanced Energy Capital, EOG Resources. Defended Chicago Bridge & Iron Company against a lawsuit brought by an investor who accused the company of fraud.

In IP, “we do a bit of everything!” That can mean working on patent prosecution matters, which involve “drafting applications and liaising with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to secure those.” There’s also litigation work, which for one interviewee meant “successfully defending a client against accusations of breaching trade secrets tied to a piece of technology. My role was handling the requirements for defending against trade secret cases and helping to figure out what our avenues were.” This associate felt that their responsibility increased significantly in their second year: “I began drafting motions for court, taking depositions, and became more involved in the patent strategy for clients.” Juniors enjoyed the due diligence aspects related to patent prosecution work, as “you help to launch a product by conducting patent searches and helping the client to figure out ways of avoiding potential infringements.” In one case where a client was sued for infringement, “we filed a number of actions against the USPTO and I have been taking depositions and preparing briefs in connection with that.”

IP clients: Toyota, Samsung, Dell. Provided patent licensing, strategic portfolio development, defensive patent analysis and counseling services for Cisco Systems.  

Career Development 



“We have a robust mentorship program,” one associate declared, “where you’re assigned an associate and a partner mentor. I used to meet with my partner mentor once a quarter, but since the pandemic began we meet every week to discuss what my workload looks like and any problems I might be having.” In addition, sources also had no trouble finding plenty of informal mentors: “I have a group of informal mentors and I go to them a lot with any questions or concerns and they’re always happy to help out.”

“The partners ask you where you see yourself in a couple of years, and you can let them know what you’re interested in doing.”

Formal training kicks off with a week-long orientation when juniors join BB, “where they talk to you about the firm and run you through some basics on assignments and writing skills.” The training does continue beyond that point, with this associate explaining that they were about to do a “four-day trial advocacy training program, where we learn about how to construct and deliver closing statements among other things.” Other training programs include how to respond to office actions, as well as M&A for new lawyers. Sources felt that they had a chance to talk about career development during their annual evaluations: “The partners ask you where you see yourself in a couple of years, and you can let them know what you’re interested in doing.” For those eager to make partner, attorneys can expect to be considered for partnership in their ninth year at the firm. 95% of our survey respondents agreed that partners at BB are nurturing future leaders.

Pro Bono 



Associates can bill up to 200 pro bono hours and potentially more if they can get approval: “They generally grant us extra hours without too much push-back.” Sources spoke of cases relating to housing issues, immigration matters, expungements, and family law. We heard of one associate working on a child custody dispute that was heard in the Supreme Court. Another matter involved “a constitutional challenge that we filed to the requirement for an individual to have gender-confirming surgery before they could change their name – our case went through.”

“…one of the partners prepared me for every call, took me through the process, and gave me feedback.”

For those with an interest in more commercial pro bono opportunities, we were told that BB has partnered up with an organization called Official Black Wall Street, which showcases and promotes Black-owned businesses: “You can get involved by helping businesses prepare trademark applications and assisting them with strategies for patents.” Our interviewees felt they had a lot of support with pro bono work, with this junior explaining that “one of the partners prepared me for every call, took me through the process, and gave me feedback.”

Pro bono hours 

  • For all US attorneys: 33,078 
  • Average per US attorney:38.8 

Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: 2,000 requirement 

Our survey respondents regularly listed BB’s “top of market associate salaries” as one of the reasons they joined the firm. Bonus eligibility kicks in at 2,000 hours (which can include the aforementioned 200 pro bono hours and an additional 100 hours of approved nonbillable time such as DE&I and business development activities). We were told that BB paid out an additional “two-part COVID bonus” in 2021, with the first installment paid “mid-way through the year if you were on track with your hours” and the second chunk paid at the end of the year: “If you missed out on the mid-year one, you could still get that full bonus if you’d caught up with your hours.” If associates don’t hit their hours, “the approach is ‘Okay, what can we do to help you meet the amount next year?’ – you don’t feel like your job is under threat.”

“I have never felt the pressure to pull an all-nighter!”

Our sources tended to agree that “the work-life balance at the firm is good for the most part.” Associates usually started work between 8am and 9am and finished at around 7pm. “I rarely work past 10pm,” said one interviewee, “and that’s only happened once or twice. I have never felt the pressure to pull an all-nighter!” Another added that peak times in trials can ramp up the hours: “There were nights where we had to check the videos of depositions and my finishing times were wide-ranging, from 8pm on a Friday to a random 1am on a Tuesday.” Our survey respondents logged an estimated average of 49 working hours in the preceding week and recorded an average of 11 vacation days taken in the last twelve months.

Culture



This all fed into comments about BB’s culture, which was time and time again described as one that valued life beyond the firm: “They recognize that people have families they would rather spend time with at home, and lives and social circles outside of just people at the firm,” one source summarized. Another acknowledged how “everyone is very kind, knowledgeable, and they seem to have balanced lives,” while this associate noticed that “the partners look for associates to be grounded by what makes them truly fulfilled, whether that is at or outside of work.”

“There are no barriers to associates communicating with partners as colleagues.”

This atmosphere was also felt to allow people “to take their work seriously but not themselves” and not to be burdened by an inflexible sense of hierarchy: “There generally is no rigid structure for work or social interactions based on seniority. There are no barriers to associates communicating with partners as colleagues.” This interviewee also felt that there was a supportive baseline to the culture and told us that they had “never felt like I couldn’t ask someone something. The senior associates are so nice and help out the juniors by giving clear guidance on how things should be done. That approach trickles down and I try to do the same thing for others.” One thing to take note of if you are looking for a more frequent ‘events outside of work’ firm: we got the impression that while BB is a friendly and social place to work, it tends to be “more family-oriented – there’s more of a focus on getting work done and going back home.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 



One source praised BB for having “a whole taskforce dedicated to diversity: we get regular updates and lots of lunches are scheduled where we talk about how we can better handle stuff, such as interviews to eliminate any bias.” Associate responses indicated that the firm is conscious of diverse staffing on matters, with one interviewee commenting that “five out of the 12 attorneys on a trial team I was part of were women, and two were in charge of handling the witnesses.” 74% of our survey respondents indicated that they were satisfied with BB’s efforts to recruit diverse associates, while 68% were satisfied with efforts to retain diverse lawyers.

Alongside its affinity groups, the firm also boasts gender-neutral parental leave, a breast milk delivery service, and a thought-leader speaker series. In addition, BB offers a diversity fellowship to eligible 1L and 2L law students and runs a targeted 1L IP diversity fellowship in partnership with AT&T.

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: Around 1,180

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 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

Callbacks

Applicants invited to second stage interview: 265

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

Summer program

Offers: 68

Acceptances: 20 (plus 18 returning 1Ls from 2021)

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,
Houston,
TX 77002
Website www.bakerbotts.com

  • Head Office: Houston, TX
  • Number of domestic offices: 7
  • Number of international offices: 5
  • Partners (US): 237
  • Associates (US): 263  
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Alison Ketabchi, Director of Recruiting
  • Diversity officer: Heather Choi, Partner and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
  • Recruitment details  
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 44
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 82
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2022 by office: Austin: 7; Dallas: 18; Houston: 23; New York: 10; Palo Alto: 1; San Francisco: 9; DC: 14
  • Summer Salary 2022: 1Ls: $4,135/week 2Ls: $4,135/week Post 3Ls: $4,135/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.

Firm profile
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.

Recruitment
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.

Social media:
Email:
recruiting@bakerbotts.com
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/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgys2C8DwRY-BVN079QNnwQ 

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022

Ranked Departments

    • Environment (Band 5)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 4)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • 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 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)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • 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 (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)
    • International Arbitration: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337) (Band 5)
    • Life Sciences (Band 5)
    • 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)