Baker Botts L.L.P. - The Inside View

Shoot your shot with Baker Botts, a famed Texas energy giant with technology expertise to boot.

“Baker Botts is part of the fabric of Texas history,” an insider proclaimed, “I vividly remember going back to the office lobby and seeing the history hallway with all these different docs and artifacts – which was really cool!” Indeed, the Lone Star State is steeped in rich history, and its legal market is no exception. So, it's no surprise that energy is a fundamental part of Baker Botts’ strength: “I paid close attention to that reputation – it holds true to this day,” an associate declared. But BB is by no means a firm stuck in the past, and one IP source highlighted the firm’s tech practice: “It’s a rarity to be able to work on both prosecution and litigation. I’ve enjoyed the ability to see both sides.”

“Baker Botts is part of the fabric of Texas history.”

Chambers USA tells a similar story, as Baker Botts receives high praise for its nationwide energy litigation and projects expertise, as well as its climate change, antitrust, and highly regarded international arbitration work. In its home state of Texas, BB picks up top marks for its environment, intellectual property, appellate and securitieslitigation, technology: corporate & commercial,real estate, and tax prowess. Over in New York, the firm is applauded for its white-collar crime and government investigations work too. Almost half of the associates on our list were based across Texas in Houston, Dallas, and Austin, but New York and Washington had a fair number of juniors as well. For those with their sights set on California, the rest of our juniors were found in the San Francisco and Palo Alto offices.

Strategy & Future



“We have a new managing partner Danny David who has been here forever and is based in the Houston office,” a source told us, adding that “he has a strong vision and is intentionally expanding the firm through lateral partner hiring. There have been new announcements every week or so!” Another informed us that “the firm isn’t shifting away from being known as an energy firm, but it’s focusing on building up its tech client offerings.”

Nine lateral partners have joined Baker Botts in the last few months, and their expertise is widespread to strategically expand the firm’s global reach. For example, one new addition in Dubai was hired to bolster tech capabilities in Asia and the Middle East, and another joined the New York office aiming to build out the energy, projects and transactions offering there.

The Work



The litigation department held most of the juniors on our list followed by IP and corporate, with a handful in the global projects and tax practices. Each week, associates can submit their availability online which is sent as a report to partners, so they are “pretty on top of knowing who needs work and who is busy.” Across practices, sources spoke of a free-market staffing approach. When joining the firm, “everyone has a project or is assigned to a deal team off the bat. From there, it’s organic; if you like the partner or associates, you’ll continue to be staffed on their matters.” An insider highlighted that “it’s important that you reach out and build those relationships to get integrated,” while another relieved junior added: “I’ve never had to compete for work.”

Litigators enjoy a generalist approach to their practice, with the likes of general commercial litigation; energy; white-collar investigations; securities; appellate; antitrust; environmental safety & incident response; and some financial restructuring “more on the litigation side.” With energy being a strong focus, an associate recalled seeing “lots of energy related litigation ranging from contract disputes between energy producers and retailers, and construction disputes about power plants, solar, wind, and liquid natural gas.” We were told that New York gets a fair number of white-collar cases but worry not: juniors regularly work across offices. Over in Washington, many associates focus on antitrust matters geared towards litigation and merger investigations, and here, “there are two main buckets of clients: life sciences and consumer product groups.”

“Typical tasks range, but a lot of research and answering questions is normal,” a junior noted, and another litigator outlined: “I’ve been involved in drafting research memos; evaluating claims and defenses in pre-litigation to decide whether to settle or proceed; motions practice; general discovery work – being part of that process with requests for production; and of course, I’ve done doc review!” Sources agreed that they are “happy with the diversity and quality of the work – it’s really challenged me.”

Litigation clients: AT&T, NASCAR Holdings, Lyft. Represented Pepsi in a trademark infringement lawsuit against Rise Brewing Co. regarding the branding of Pepsi’s canned energy drinks.

“I got pulled into a trial right away in my first year…It was pretty awesome, as often cases settle out!”

Over in the intellectual property department, offerings span litigation, copyright & trademarks, and patent prosecution, with the latter being split between high tech and life sciences. Juniors should expect exposure “to all industries and clients such as medical tech, pharma, semiconductors, oil & gas refineries, and telecommunications,” and the group also supports the corporate and global tech practices on their matters. An insider told us: “One thing that was cool was I got pulled into a trial right away in my first year. I got to sit in on depositions and see the witness testimony and questioning. It was pretty awesome, as often cases settle out!” Responsibilities include but aren’t limited to drafting and filing patent applications for prosecution matters, as well as research and drafting motions and briefs on the litigation side.

IP clients: Dell, Mastercard, Bank of America. Represented Chime in a cross border joint lawsuit with Meta against two individuals engaged in phishing attacks to gain access to their online financial accounts, achieving a default judgement and permanent injunction against the individuals.

“The motto is ‘learn by doing,’ and they really let you experience things!”

BB's corporate practice falls into four main buckets: capital markets, M&A, corporate governance, and financial restructuring, and as generalists, juniors can work across all of these. We were told that “obviously we have a lot of oil & gas, renewable energy, and utility clients, but we’ve been growing a lot in the tech and consumer space!” On the M&A side, while one insider detailed that “for M&A clients, I’ve done a lot of work reviewing 34 Act reporting,” while another mentioned: “I’m currently working on a big bidding situation.” But for the first few months in the team, junior associate tasks “would be really simple administrative stuff such as diligence and signature pages – I still do those now! As things progress, you get tasked with taking the first turn at transactional documents and bigger research tasks.” This sentiment was echoed by this junior who highlighted that “as people trust you, there is clear progression. There are a lot of instructions, and I feel comfortable asking a question or walking into their office. The motto is ‘learn by doing,’ and they really let you experience things!”

Corporate clients: Shell USA, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, BP. Acted for Liberty Latin America in its joint venture cross-border transaction with América Móvil valued at $4 billion.

Career Development



All newbies are assigned a partner mentor upon joining the firm. Of this, an associate told us that “you can benefit the most from having an informal senior associate or partner mentor you can talk to about career things. I’ve felt comfortable picking their brains as there isn’t a super strict hierarchy, and that has been really important.” There is a monthly budget for getting coffee or lunch to encourage informal mentorship too, but sources emphasized the need to be proactive “in showing you care about the work; come into the office, as people will take to that and take you under their wings.”

Beyond on-the-job learning via experiences in real time – which our interviewees loved – there are formal practice-specific training programs and opportunities available. Associates have access to a whole online system of recorded videos and CLEs: “When I have spare time, I like to go there. Say I’ve never done arbitration before – it’s a great resource to find an overview and do a bit of training,” a litigation junior laid out. Fourth year litigators can opt to attend in-person deposition and trial training as well!

“Many Texan Supreme Court judges were Baker Botts employees…”

Moreover, the firm has a good reputation for helping associates attain clerkships. We were told that “many Texan Supreme Court judges were Baker Botts employees," (and we noted some retired judges work at the firm). The source added that "they are encouraging of associates, helping you secure a clerkship and leaving the door open as a place for you to come back to when you’re done.” For some, it was too early to be thinking about partnership – with 38% of survey respondents claiming that it’s not an aspiration of theirs – but for those who are, “it does seem attainable, and it is common for a partner to have summered at the firm. It’s something I can approach my mentor with to talk about for now, but I know that at mid and senior level, there are more serious talks about the path to partnership.”

Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: 2,000 target

Most sources felt that the bonus target was achievable; associates have up to 200 hours of pro bono and management approved non-billable time (MANB) to take advantage of. MANB has a 100-hour cap that encompasses giving presentations, producing publications, and participating in DEI activities. An insider informed us that besides not getting the bonus, "there aren’t consequences for not hitting the target, as long as you’re doing the work and trying to get work.” In response to the latter, a few did acknowledge that the market has impacted some transactional associates’ hours, an industry-wide issue, but one associate joked nonetheless that “the bonuses are fat!” Interviewees agreed that bonus allocation is fair and transparent (as did 69% of survey respondents); those who hit their target receive a lockstep bonus and those who go the extra mile to bill over that can receive a discretionary bonus as well.

The firm’s hybrid working policy requires its associates to be in-office 60% of the time: “The firm lets you pick which days, and no one is going to contact you if there’s a week where you needed to be out due to personal matters.” Our survey reported that associates work an average of 44 hours a week – four hours below the market average. Occasional late nights and weekend work is to be expected though, especially if a deal is at a crucial stage. Litigators told us that generally, they are billing “around seven to eight hours, and then some days in busier periods, it’s more than 12 hours.” IP sources said: “It comes in waves. Sometimes it’s pedal to the metal with work on the weekend, but I make sure to catch my breath when things slow down.” For transactional work, “it’s not uncommon for corporate workload to swing,” and so “when things get a little crazy, it can be from like 8am to 11pm, but those stretches don’t last long.”

Culture



“Baker Botts has a reputation for being formal and conservative from the outside,”  a junior admitted, pointing out that “once you start working here, you realize that everyone is easy to talk to and are supportive.” Another insider characterized their colleagues as “very hard-working, intelligent, and respectful, so all in all, it’s been a good experience here.”

Events tend to be concentrated around the holiday season and the summer program. Sources mentioned the occasional happy hours, lunches, and galas that the firm hosts, as well as attending client events “which are always fun to go to as a group of BB lawyers.” An interviewee did note that “maybe it’s a result of the pandemic – people talk about a ‘pre-pandemic’ social life, as there aren’t that many events.” That said, associates spoke fondly of the weekly firm-provided lunches: “In a hybrid working environment, it’s nice because it draws people into the office to interact with each other.” Specifically in the Houston office, juniors also emphasized and appreciated the overall tone the firm sets: “We’re invested in each other as people, but we don’t cut into each other’s family time!”

Pro Bono



Pro bono at Baker Botts is “accessible for associates,” as “we get numerous emails from the pro bono coordinator reaching out with opportunities and looking for volunteers.” The pro bono coordinator is also “willing to let you take on other cases if you feel passionately about the cause.” With changes to the policy introducing a fixed limit of 200 hours to be counted towards billables, some associates mentioned that this has impacted pro bono morale. Still, the sky is the limit in terms of how many opportunities are available. Sources spoke of a wide range of housing, domestic violence, family, immigration, prisoners’ rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and corporate matters such as trademarks.

“You have a lot of opportunities to speak with your clients; the stakes are high, and the cases are so compelling.”

Interviewees highlighted that in Houston, associates work with local organizations such as Houston Volunteer Lawyers and Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA) “to help artists who cannot afford legal counsel. It involves a lot of reviewing copyright issues.” Another junior detailed that “right now, I’m on an asylum claim. You have a lot of opportunities to speak with your clients; the stakes are high, and the cases are so compelling. It’s rewarding to help directly, knowing that I’ll be doing the questioning and submitting evidence throughout the hearing.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion



“Representation is something that the firm is really focused on trying to improve,” an associate observed, praising Baker Botts’ “very active diversity and inclusion officer Heather Choi. She’s been doing a lot of work to recruit diverse candidates.” For diverse law students, an in-house pipeline on offer is the Baker Botts’ 1L Diversity Fellowship. Notably, for the fifth year in a row, the firm has also been awarded the Mansfield Certification for its efforts to improve diversity in leadership.

“…it’s important to have leadership at the top to show that it’s possible to achieve.”

Insiders were keen to highlight the topic of gender diversity, telling us that the firm is supportive of people’s family goals in a way that “is flexible for moms and dads. There are really good leave policies,” an interviewee gushed, with 83% of survey respondents believing that the firm makes partnership achievable for attorneys with children. Another source enthused that “we have a lot of women partners in corporate who are really important role models for me. They have families and kids – they do it all. I look up to them, and it’s important to have leadership at the top to show that it’s possible to achieve.” The firm has a multitude of affinity groups to get involved in, and the “women’s initiative (called Women in Action) is for all women at the firm and has its own mentor groups. It’s nice to interact with other associates and partners there,” and another junior happily shared that “I’m a member of Pride in Action – we’re an active and consistent group!” The firm has seven affinity groups in total.

Get Hired



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.

Callbacks 

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.

Summer program 

Offers: 54 

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 to 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 L.L.P.

910 Louisiana Street,
Houston,
TX 77002
Website www.bakerbotts.com

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, 2023

Ranked Departments

    • Environment (Band 5)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 4)
    • 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)
    • 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 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)