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Meet the lawyer

Jacob Turner

Jacob Turner

Name: Jacob Turner
University: University of York
Degree: Law
Year of qualification: 2020
Job: Associate
Pronouns: He/him

What attracted you to a career in law?

Law is an incredibly challenging workspace and career. I like that you need to have an interdisciplinary approach and a constantly developing emotional intelligence. Being able to talk to people and convey quite tough amounts of advice and information in a short concise way is difficult, and forces you to think on your feet. I was also attracted to the real-world impact. It’s exciting working on a deal and then seeing it front page of the Financial Times or Bloomberg. It makes you realise that your advice can genuinely make a difference to a company and its strategy.

Why solicitor not barrister?

Choosing to become a solicitor over a barrister was an easy decision. Barristers work quite independently, which can be a massive advantage, however, I was drawn to working as a solicitor because you’re part of a team. The other key thing is that as a solicitor you have a team of specialists around you – this is especially true in corporate where you work with experts in areas like real estate and pension law to provide the most useful advice for clients. Also, as a solicitor you can work in a much more international setting and across borders, particularly at Baker McKenzie.

How did you decide which firms to apply to?

It’s quite daunting as a student looking for firms to apply to. The key thing is to think about your skill set and what you’re interested in. I knew I was interested in corporate M&A or at least some type of commercial law, which helped kickstart my research. Every law firm is completely different, the specialisms and careers vary widely. I also wanted to work somewhere international so, for me, Baker McKenzie was perfect. 

How much work experience had you had? Why is it so important?

Work experience is incredibly important. I worked in a hotel in housekeeping, as a kitchen assistant at a care home and as a shelf stacker in a supermarket. I also did some law-related work experience on campus, which I secured by emailing law firms in York, expressing my enthusiasm for and interest in the profession. It’s important to be interested, go out there and do as much as you can. We’re interested in both law and non-law work experience.

What do you think made your application successful?

There are two key elements to making an application stand out and be successful. One is thinking about what makes you unique; think about why someone would be interested in you and marry this up to what makes the firm you’re applying to unique. This shows you know what you bring but you also understand the firm. Recruiters are looking for someone who’s clearly thought about why they’d succeed at that firm instead of at another. I’d recommend attending open days and asking an existing associate what they think is different about the firm and why they applied, which might help you answer these questions yourself. 

The second key thing is to be yourself. At Baker McKenzie, social mobility, and diversity and inclusion is part of our culture. So, if you’re being honest on an application, it shines through. I believe there are tonnes of firms out there that want you to be yourself at work and in your application.

Which departments did you train in?

My first seat was in private equity and funds, where I ended up qualifying. Very briefly, the team at Baker McKenzie was mixed between private equity M&A and general advice to portfolio companies, as well as the funds law aspects – that’s fund formation, how funds develop and what they do in terms of regulation to develop in the market. Then I went to corporate M&A, which was strictly buying and selling companies, before joining the employment team, which involved a big mix of work. Baker McKenzie’s employment team is unique because it’s a lot bigger than most other law firms. While on the team, I did investigation, corporate employment law as well as actual court cases, which was quite exciting and interesting. My fourth seat was on client secondment at BP. Unfortunately, it started the first day of the covid-19 lockdown but it was still good fun and enjoyable to work with the client.

Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?

It’s worth saying that every day is slightly different. Typically, I start by looking at emails that I’ve received overnight from my clients from the West Coast of America, Australia and China, and setting up calls. I then see what advice has come through and identify what I need to send to the client to create solutions. This would involve setting up calls with local council and advisors. Then I’d probably spend time doing some pro bono, which is quite a big part of working at Baker McKenzie. I’m the pro bono coordinator for my department, so I spend time seeking out volunteers as well as doing pro bono work myself. I’d probably cap off the day doing some networking with clients. Networking with clients is really useful, not just from a business perspective, but also for developing transferable skills and building my own personal brand.

Please discuss a current/recent specific deal/case, outlining your role in the matter.

I’ve recently worked on a deal that we closed for New Mountain Capital, a private equity fund mostly based in New York. The fund acquired – through a spin off acquisition, which is where you take a portion of that business – an analytical valuation team across 16 different countries from PerkinElmer. My role in that was to coordinate and be the regional liaison for about nine different countries. I liaised with the local counsel in all these jurisdictions, making sure they were up to scratch and working on the transactions. I reviewed and drafted all the legal documents for the countries involved so they’d be signed in time. It also meant liaising with them about any issues they have, such as regulatory constraints because of the products being sold, and addressing them as soon as possible, as well as including that in the main agreement to buy the business.

What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?

I least enjoy the work/life balance, which can be difficult at times. Occasionally we work late hours on a deal, but this very much ebbs and flows. Otherwise, what I enjoy is the incredibly challenging and exciting work – no two days are the same. I work hard because I enjoy myself and the work I’m doing; I can see the true value in the advice I give. The relationships I build with clients are incredible and really rewarding.

What makes your firm stand out from the rest?

There are two key things that make Baker McKenzie stand out. The first is the firm’s global nature and its full-service offering. There are few firms that can say that from the founding, the point of the firm was to be international. From the 60s, Baker McKenzie had offices across the globe and an international client base, made up of blue-chip companies that want to do transactions across different jurisdictions. Instead of having small outposts of lawyers in several countries, we have a full-service offering. So, we have lawyers who are experts in employment law or pensions law in different countries, who are used to working internationally. Our bread and butter ends up being these huge global clients. The second thing is the firm’s culture. It’s deliberately diverse and inclusive, and the whole idea is that it’s international. You can’t have a global law firm without accepting everyone and valuing the point of having a global workforce.

What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?

Be inquisitive! If you’re going to an open day, think about what matters to you, why you’re interested in law and ask questions that demonstrate this interest. Figure out what makes you and the firm tick. It’s important that you’re interested in what makes the business world work from a commercial law perspective – don’t lose sight of that. The other thing is try to do as much work experience as you can, law or non-law. The interpersonal skills you can get from non-law work experience is invaluable.

Describe the firm in three words.

Intelligent, inclusive and international.

What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given since joining the firm?

The biggest opportunity I’ve had since joining Baker McKenzie has been leading on large transactions and being at the forefront of deals that hit the legal and financial press – I can’t overstate how exciting that is. Seeing the real-world impact of your work is massive, there are few careers where you can make that much difference.

What’s your favourite TV show/movie?

I can’t recommend The Bear enough. After watching the first season, I thought it couldn’t get any better but then season two came along.