Making Baker McKenzie stand out was once a simple business. The day in 1948 Russell Baker met John McKenzie by chance in a cab, he had already conceived the notion of an international law firm. Formed in 1949, its first international office was added six years later in Caracas, Venezuela. In the decades to follow, the Chicago-bred firm stood out as a genuinely global operator in a profession that remained largely a domestic concern.
True, having been stitched together from a series of financially separate offices, Bakers never worried the legal elite in New York and London, being dismissed by some as a mid-market franchise thanks to a multi-partnership model that was then unheard of. But Bakers could point to global coverage well beyond any peer, including market-leading practices in many jurisdictions where few rivals dared venture. Passing the $1bn mark in 2001, Bakers turned over more than $2bn just seven years later, making it one of the largest firms in the world.