Obiter likes inspiring tales of folk who bounce back from a setback so is quietly hopeful that global firm Baker & McKenzie is about to provide one.
Income at the firm may be down 4%, and profits per equity partner 3% – but it’s the firm’s history that gives hope.
Sadly the content of the book Pioneering a Global Vision: The Story of Baker & McKenzie is not currently free online, but Obiter recalls enough from a lost afternoon spent with a friend’s copy to know that the firm, conceived as founder Russell Baker was looking at the rear end of a farm animal, has creative solutions in its DNA.
For example, at the University of Chicago, Baker’s tuition was paid with income earned at country fairs, where he boxed for money. (He’d got to Chicago to enrol by riding cattle trucks, unable to afford the train fare.)
There’s been luck – the modern firm was established when Baker shared a cab home with one John McKenzie and got chatting.
And, most thrillingly, improvisation – when the firm opened in Hong Kong in 1974, it unknowingly chose a building widely believed to be haunted. The response was not a move round the corner, but the import of an eight-foot statue from New Guinea to sit at the front door. The ghost apparently departed.
All very promising. True, the more colourful anecdotes thin with Baker’s death in 1979, but this is still a space Obiter thinks is worth watching – especially if readers know any New Guinea figure-makers who are suddenly too busy to meet for a drink.