Declan McGarry, Senior Manager, Global Service Design Team
I qualified as a solicitor back in 2015 and started working at Baker McKenzie in the Corporate Support Unit (CSU), working primarily on Mergers & Acquisitions and Reorganisations.
I was in this team for four and a half years and really enjoyed the work, which included a secondment to our San Francisco office. During this time I got to work on some amazing deals and experience everything California had to offer!
The CSU works with our offices all over the world and, coupled with the experience I gained working in our San Francisco office, helped me develop an interest in how we do what we do, as well as what we do.
The job I moved into in January 2020 looks at just that. As a Senior Manager in the Global Service Design Team, I work to design, implement and facilitate improvements to the way our lawyers work and how our legal services are delivered. This includes shaping the Firm's Reinvent strategy (the strategy responsible for the Firm's innovation initiatives) and facilitating a "One Team" approach globally by collaborating on key projects across all regions, practice groups and functions.
It's impressive to work for an organisation that looks beyond its particular area of expertise and at the entire culture and ethos of work. While the pandemic has accelerated changes in how most people experience their professional lives, Baker McKenzie has operated across the globe successfully for years which is why we’ve coped so well as a company and as individuals over the past few years.
Working in a global team, I have regular catch-ups with colleagues across our offices, including London, Frankfurt and Istanbul. The work I am involved in is largely project-based, therefore much of my day is made up of progressing projects prioritised by the Firm's Reinvent strategy. This can range from improving the way we currently deliver legal services to developing new services for our clients. An exciting aspect of my role is looking at how the current culture of work will develop in the coming years and preparing Baker McKenzie to stay ahead of these changes.
Our hybrid-remote working policy enables me to spend more time with my family, which is something I am very grateful for. It has also allowed me to move closer to my extended family since I am not required to commute every day. I am very lucky that I can live in rural Ireland and still play an active role in one of the best law firms in the world.
Thankfully, workplace culture is shifting to a kinder, more respectful place. Again, Baker McKenzie is ahead of the curve and I’ve experienced that first-hand as a working parent. The shared parental leave policy at Baker McKenzie is one of the most progressive in the UK and Ireland.
I was able to take three months' leave at full pay, allowing me to spend time raising my son at the most important part of his development. It made me a more involved parent and led to a much more equal distribution of caregiving with my wife. It also made it much easier for my wife to return to her career. I will always be extremely grateful for the time it gave me with my son and I would encourage any father to take it where possible.
My favourite part of working at Baker McKenzie is the people. I enjoy working with talented people who are the best at what they do globally. But on a personal level too, I have made some great friends in Baker McKenzie over the years and that is the main reason I enjoy getting back into the office.
I am involved in the Baker McKenzie GAA team, playing in various interfirm competitions and friendlies and I’ve also been involved in the Firm's Fluency Cup, an annual "World Cup" hosted by a different office each year.
The Belfast office has been represented in Milan, Brussels and recently we hosted the tournament in Belfast. It's a fantastic experience and a great way to meet people across the Firm in a more informal setting.
My advice for anyone looking for that first ‘career’ would be to remember that a qualification only gets you entry into a career - how you apply yourself will dictate how successful you will become. Also, remember to be kind and seek a working environment where people are kind to you. A large part of your life is spent working so make sure you spend it with the right people.