Description

The Role

Our Pensions practice is seeking a junior Associate to join their team which currently comprises 4 Partners, 1 Of Counsel, 2 Knowledge Lawyers and 12 Associates and trainees. 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, capital-back solutions, 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. We also advise, both directly and in terms of trustees and employers effecting transfers of members and assets to, DC master trusts and new forms of consolidators.

Corporate M&A, carve-outs

  • Corporate deals - very often international - and restructurings and refinancings, with particular reference to the anti-avoidance and clearance powers of the Pensions Regulator, are also an area of particular strength and importance to our practice and our Firm's corporate strategy. 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 takes the lead in co-ordinating global projects. We also work with our Employee Benefit colleagues on globally mobile employees. We organise a Global Pensions seminar most years, which we believe is unique among law firms (Amsterdam, London, Chicago, Washington DC).

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 role 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, and engaging with our peers in the pensions industry and on leading committees, 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 of two designated knowledge lawyers, 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

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, buyouts, innovative covenant and funding projects, 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 a Global Pensions seminar, showcasing our pensions expertise across the globe. 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, and the plans of a major bank) 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.

Sample of 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 group.
  • Advising many clients, both companies and trustees, in relation to the GDPR. 

Key Skills and Experience Required

The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate all or the majority of the following:

  • Relevant Pensions experience
  • Experience / skills commensurate with their PQE level
  • First rate technical skills needed to support the client work of the department
  • An interest in business development and the sharing of knowledge and best practice
  • Excellent written communication and drafting skills
  • Excellent academic credentials
  • Ability to work independently
  • Initiative and proactivity
  • Maturity and gravitas
  • Strong service orientation - a "client first" culture
  • Ability to develop strong relationships with clients and to take responsibility for this relationship
  • High work standards
  • Ability to work well in both a team and individually
  • A keenness to learn
  • Respects and enjoys the diversity of cultural, social and academic backgrounds found in the Firm

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 13,200 people in 78 offices in 46 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 a 950 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, friendly and supportive.

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

  • Acritas’ Sharplegal Global Elite Brand Index, 2010- 2020 - ranked 1st 
  • The Sunday Times’ Best Companies to Work For 2011, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17: currently ranked 66th 
  • The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2018: currently ranked 65th
  • Thomson Reuters ranked the Firm No. 1 for cross-border deals for the last 12 years. More than 70% of our deals are cross-border. 
  • For the 14th consecutive year, the Firm was ranked first for deals with emerging market involvement, by both number of announced and completed deals. 
  • Law360 ranked the Firm as the leading global law firm in its annual survey.  
  • Identified as one of the best law firms for women by Working Mother magazine, Law360 and Euromoney.
  • Named one of Stonewall's Top Global Employers for the fourth consecutive year in 2019.
  • Recognised in 2019 as a top 10 employer in the UK for LGBT+ equality, and named as one of 10 Top Trans Employers, in Stonewall's Top 100 Best Employers listing.
  • Featuring in Business in the Community's Top 100 Employers for Race listing.Ranking 5th in the 2019 Social Mobility Employer Index.
  • Winning the Best International Firm (UK), Best International Firm for Minority Women Lawyers, and Best International Firm for Women in Business Law at the European Women in Business Law Awards 2019.

Have a look at our YouTube channel to find out more about us!

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 Recruitment.London@bakermckenzie.com 

For more information about this position or to discuss any adjustments you may require during the process please contact in confidence, Vanessa Renforth, Recruitment Manager, on 020 7072 5731 or Vanessa.Renforth@bakermckenzie.com 

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Our Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

As the first truly global law firm, diversity and inclusion are foundational to our culture and strategic vision. We are a Firm of individuals from across the globe with different backgrounds, ideas, and points of view who collegially work together to solve complex problems and design practical solutions for our clients. Our multiple perspectives come from many sources, including the diverse ethnicity, culture, gender, nationality, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, parental status, education, social background and life experience of our people.

Our global strategy is focused on our people, our culture, our clients and the communities where we operate. In 2019 we enacted ambitious new targets related to gender, racial and ethnic diversity at the Firm. These targets are viewed as a floor, not a ceiling, to advancing underrepresented groups, and they are backed by a variety of strategic initiatives aimed at achieving our goals. Our strategic vision is supported in London by six active employee led networks which champion diversity, lead on a number of internal campaigns and deliver a range of activity to celebrate differences in identity, inclusion, and key dates throughout the year including: LGBT+ History Month, International Women's Day, International Trans Day of Visibility, Mental Health Awareness Week, Pride, Black History Month, Social Mobility Week, International Day of Disabled Persons and many more!

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