Baker McKenzie is one of the largest and most successful law firms in the world. Based in Chicago, Illinois, it is a multinational law firm with a wide range of commercial specialisations, including anti-trust and competition, banking and finance, compliance, international and commercial trade, and mergers and acquisitions (M&A), to name just a few. In 2019, it generated a record revenue of almost $3 billion dollars.

There are several reasons why Baker McKenzie has become such a successful firm. One reason is that it is innovative and responsive to global changes and challenges. However, it is not simply responsive. It is constantly looking at how the market and demand for legal services may change in the years ahead and how to stay ahead of the competition. It has also enthusiastically embraced new technologies, with all the challenges they bring.

Very recently, Baker McKenzie announced a ground-breaking and exciting collaboration with AI research engine, SparkBeyond, to apply AI technology to disrupt the legal market. In doing so, it is trying to imagine what clients will want, and need, from the legal services industry in the future. The firm also sees the collaboration as an opportunity to use the technology across a wide range of areas, including supporting good governance as part of the firm’s commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Ben Allgrove, who a partner at Baker McKenzie’s and Global Head of Research and Development expresses the attitude of Baker McKenzie to the application of these new and innovative technologies. In looking to the future, he says: “What does that future look like? We don’t know yet. But we won’t know until we try.”* It is this willingness to adapt and adopt, even if all the answers are not yet clear, that seems to be at least one of the hallmarks of Baker McKenzie’s success, among – of course – many others.



  1. How are Baker McKenzie's competitors using and applying new technologies?

  2. What are the potential benefits, and pitfalls [hidden or unexpected dangers] of using AI in the legal services industry?

  3. How might this technology be used to improve the firm's competitiveness? Can you think of any areas in particular, where it could be used to improve efficiency?

  4. How do you think this kind of technology will 'disrupt' the legal services industry?

  5. How do you think the firm's clients will respond to this announcement? Will any clients have reservations or doubts and, if so, why?

© Cambridge Legal English Academy 2020

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