Description

The Role

The Pensions Group is seeking a junior/mid-level Associate to join their team, which currently consists of 16 dedicated pensions lawyers. Our Associates are engaged on a daily basis with the full range of pensions legal work, for both corporate and trustee clients, including:

De-risking and liability management

We advise both corporates and trustees on de-risking, providing corporates with solution-driven strategic advice and trustee clients with advice on their duties and responsibilities in agreeing to and implementing such proposals, including closures and RPI/CPI switches.

Funding and investment

We work closely with our clients and our Banking and Finance colleagues on innovative funding solutions such as longevity swaps, asset backed funding, buyouts and buy-ins and regulatory and structural issues connected with pension fund investment.

Scheme advisory work

We have a substantial number of large and medium-sized pension clients. The work is varied and covers all aspects of scheme advisory work, from strategic DB and DC governance, through individual benefit queries, Revenue requirements and tax issues to complex projects such as equalisation and mergers. The importance of continuity is stressed and Associates are encouraged to build long-term relationships with clients.

Corporate M&A, carve-outs

Restructurings and refinancings, with particular reference to the anti-avoidance and clearance powers of the Pensions Regulator, are also an area of particular strength. Sales and purchases form a significant, but not dominant, part of our work and, as you would expect in a global firm of our standing, often involve high-profile global transactions, with a substantial overseas element which entails work with pension lawyers in other offices of Baker McKenzie. The nature of our global practice, with over 100 lawyers advising on pensions across 34 jurisdictions means we are uniquely placed to advise on pensions issues in these complex multi-jurisdictional transactions and restructurings.

Global

The London Pensions team plays a pivotal role in Baker McKenzie's global pensions group and take the lead in co-ordinating global projects. We also work with our Employee Benefit colleagues on globally mobile employees. We organise an annual Global Pensions seminar, which we believe is unique among law firms (Amsterdam 2015, London 2016, Chicago 2017, Washington DC 2018).

Disputes

Pension litigation is conducted in collaboration with our Disputes colleagues. Associates in the department handle some claims themselves (e.g. IDRP and Ombudsman complaints) and work on other contentious matters in conjunction with specialist pension litigators.

Scheme documentation

The provision of user-friendly, comprehensive and accurate scheme documentation forms a key plank of the service we provide to our clients and all of our Associates are involved in drafting, from deeds of participation through to complex rule consolidations.

Industry-wide schemes

Our work for the Merchant Navy Officers Pension Fund, an industry-wide scheme, also demonstrates our ability to provide integrated cross-disciplinary advice on pensions issues.

As well as fee-earning work, we encourage our Associates actively to engage in the many non-fee earning Departmental initiatives including:

Business development

Our Associates play an important rule in developing and implementing our BD strategy. There are ample opportunities for Associates to engage in BD, with a variety of options to suit all (including article writing, client training/presentations, arranging networking meetings. media campaigns to list a few). This is very much part of an Associate's role with us and we welcome all ideas and all contributions. We have an embedded BD Executive to assist in this area.

Knowledge management

We have a strong and excellent PSL resource which is supplemented by our Associates sharing their knowledge and best practice within the team on a regular basis. We encourage Associates to share their work product and expertise by contributing to our comprehensive knowhow system and to take the lead in, and train other members of the team on, areas of particular interest.

Sample of current work:

  • Advising trustees through a time-limited negotiation, structuring and implementation of converting a longevity swap insurance contract into a full £700 million buy-in policy, with a different insurer (the first and to date only time this has been achieved in the market).
  • Advising a major outsourcing corporate on the legal structuring and negotiating of two major projects with the objective of switching the basis for inflation proofing pensions from RPI to CPI and achieving a company saving and Plan investment de-risking of £tens millions.
  • Advising the trustees of one of the UK largest DC plans on the transition of DC funds from five investment providers onto a single insurance "platform" structure with first-of-their-kind contracts governing continuing obligations directly to the trustee.
  • Advising Emerson Electric on a USD 3.2 billion acquisition, negotiating the pension aspects of the sale and purchase agreement, and project managing the deal over 46 jurisdictions.
  • Advising Post Holdings on the pensions aspects of the acquisition of Weetabix including the implications for the client of the acquisition of two significant DB pension plans.
  • Advising the trustees of the Old Mutual pension schemes on the purchase of buy-in policies covering all the liabilities of each of the schemes with conversion to a full buy-out of the schemes over a short timeframe and with a matter value of £300m.
  • Advising a major global chemicals company on the UK pensions implications of its transformational global merger and de-merger, including advice on changes to a bespoke covenant support structure.
  • Advising the US parent of a UK sponsor of a DB pension plan in relation to the potential incorrect equalisation of benefits and failure to break the link to final salary following a historic closure to future accrual.
  • Advising a major IT outsourcing company on the design and structure of a proposal to amend future service benefits via a pensionable pay freeze for members of the pension scheme.
  • Advising trustees on a proposal for all the scheme's assets (in the region of £1.7 billion) to be invested in a common investment fund, following the acquisition of the scheme sponsor by another corporate grou
  • Advising many clients, both companies and trustees, in relation to the GDPR.

The Team

The London Pensions team consists of 16 dedicated pensions lawyers and is widely recognised in the industry as a leading specialist practice, providing commercial, pragmatic and innovative advice to a wide range of clients. We have provided strategic and day to day pensions advice to our clients for over 30 years and continue to develop our practice by attracting new clients from both within the firm and from outside. We work closely with other practice groups in the Firm, including Employment, Tax, Disputes, Corporate, Financial Service, Banking and Finance to provide integrated advice on large scale pension projects such as asset-backed funding, longevity swaps and insurance transactions as well as the pensions aspects of corporate mergers and acquisitions and disputes.

We are at the heart of the pensions industry and pensions thought-leadership, our lawyers often being sought out by pensions journalists for quotations and speaking at external industry events, authoring articles for the major pensions publications and sitting on the main technical legal and industry committees. The London Pensions team plays a pivotal role in Baker McKenzie's global pensions group and takes the lead in co-ordinating global projects. We organise an annual Global Pensions seminar, showcasing our pensions expertise across the globe (Washington DC in 2018). Our high standing is further evidenced by the popularity of our Annual Seminar which is attended by approximately 200 clients and pensions professionals. The quality of our presentations attracts many industry professionals (actuaries, benefit consultants, independent trustees etc.).

Approximately 70% of our pensions clients have come to the firm specifically for pensions advice. We advise both companies and trustees on the legal aspects of pension arrangements. The total number of plans advised by us is approximately 300. These schemes range from very large schemes (such as the Merchant Navy) to the medium-sized, both defined benefit and defined contribution (we advise the trustees of one of the largest DC schemes in the UK). The scope of this advice encompasses trust law, specialist pensions legislation affecting pensions schemes to change benefit structures, common investment arrangements, discrimination in pension schemes, litigation, applications to the court, advising independent trustees and advising on international aspects. In addition, we provide a full documentation service, drafting trust deeds and rules, amending schemes and drafting collective investment agreements.

We provide our clients with a monthly ‘UK Pensions Update’ notifying them of the latest developments and issue "talking points" on particular topics of interest. In addition to our Annual Seminar, we run regular breakfast briefings and think tanks for our clients on significant legal issues in the pensions area.

Our ability to deliver professional and cost-effective advice lies not only in the experience and approach of our lawyers, but also, critically, in the know-how and precedent system which we have developed. We have a two person PSL resource providing know-how support exclusively to the Pensions Department.

Why join us?

Baker McKenzie is a truly global law firm. Founded in 1949, we advise many of the world’s most dynamic and successful business organisations through our 13,000 people in 77 offices across 47 countries. Yet big does not mean impersonal. We work hard to ensure that everyone knows their role and has the support they need to perform it to the highest standard. Our culture encourages this - how we work, think and behave in a collaborative and fulfilling way.

In London you will be part of an 800 person office, which is also our largest office globally. Originally opened in 1961, Baker McKenzie London is well established in the UK as a leading international law firm and is regularly involved in some of the country's most high-profile legal matters. We can offer you the work, pride and experience of being part of a leading law firm but in a local office environment that is hardworking, yet friendly and supportive.

It is a great time to be joining the London LPM team. With a variety of backgrounds and personalities, there is a great ethos and mutual support in the team. We are making as much progress in aligning our processes as we are encouraging an entrepreneurial tailored approach to matters. The early groundwork required to educating the firm on the benefits of LPM is mostly complete, allowing the new LPMs to come in and pick up the trusted role of delivering on the process and many leadership aspects of matters. Internally and externally the LPM brand is very strong and there is a platform to bring solutions (tactical and broader innovation), different mindsets on approach, technology and commerciality and opportunity to shape the law firm of the future from the inside.

The strength of the firm and our culture is evidenced by a number of recent awards, including:

  • Acritas’ Sharplegal Global Elite Brand Index, 2016 - ranked 1st/Brand Index: 100
  • The Sunday Times’ Best Companies to Work For 2011, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17: currently ranked 66th
  • The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2016: currently ranked 57th
  • Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2017: currently ranked 7th
  • Euromoney Women in Business Law Awards 2016: Five awards: Most Innovative International Firm for Women, Best International Firm for pro bono work, Best in tax, Best in Employment and Overall Outstanding Female Practitioner Award

To Apply

At Baker McKenzie we welcome direct applications. Please click on the Apply icon to start the online application process for this role. We will then be in touch with you once we have reviewed your application. If you are unable to apply online, please contact the Recruitment Team on either 020 7919 1000 or via email.

For more information about this position or to discuss any adjustments you may require during the process please contact in confidence, Aylin Berenti, Recruitment Officer, on 020 7072 5772 or via email.

No Agencies Please

Please note Baker McKenzie does not accept unsolicited CVs. Please click here for details of our Agency Policy and commitment to sourcing directly.

Experience Required

  • will have relevant Pensions experience;
  • will have excellent academic credentials;
  • will be a strong team player;
  • will be a good communicator both orally and in writing;
  • will have an interest in business development and the sharing of knowledge and best practice; and
  • will be able to demonstrate initiative and pro-activity.