Investor Spotlight: Baker McKenzie
March 28, 2022
Baker McKenzie helps clients overcome the challenges of competing in the global economy. The Firm solves complex legal problems across borders and practice areas. Baker McKenzie’s unique culture, developed over 65 years, enables its 13,000 people to understand local markets and navigate multiple jurisdictions, working together as trusted colleagues and friends to instill confidence in their clients. Baker McKenzie chose Tampa for the site of its new Global Services Center, the first of its kind in North America, following the success of similar sites in the Philippines and Northern Ireland.
Jamie Lawless, Executive Director, Baker McKenzie Tampa Center
Jamie Lawless is the Executive Director of Baker McKenzie’s strategic center in Tampa, Florida. Under Jamie’s leadership, Baker McKenzie is working to deliver business services to 77 practicing offices in 46 countries around the world. To date, Jamie’s work has created more than 180 jobs in the Tampa Bay area, with plans to add more.
Jamie is passionate about serving the community, ensuring a diverse and inclusive business environment, and promoting the economic independence of women. She has served as the Advisory Council Chair for Dress for Success Worldwide, is a Founding & Advisory Board Member for Women to Know aimed at elevating and accelerating the careers and leadership of women in the legal industry, a board member of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, and is a founding member of (Fe)League, a network of women building a community of the interested, the interesting, and the influential.
Jamie was recently named a 2022 BusinessWoman of the Year by the Tampa Bay Business Journal and was recognized by Baker McKenzie as the business professional recipient of the Firm’s annual award for the promotion of gender diversity. In 2020, the Tampa Center received the Tampa Bay EDC’s annual Community Transformer Award, presented by TECO, which recognizes a local organization that has had a profound impact on the Tampa Bay community beyond creating jobs and capital investment.
Since opening the Tampa Center in 2019, you and your team have worked hard to build a brand and culture around #LoveWhereYouWork. How has this helped you with talent attraction and retention efforts?
As one of four shared service centers providing “follow-the-sun” expert business solutions to a premier global law firm, our mission is to not only meet, but to exceed the expectations of those who engage with our teams. Our #LoveWhereYouWork business model is focused on three pillars: authenticity, purpose and culture. We believe that the most effective way to promote excellence, in anything, is to foster a business environment where people: 1) bring their whole selves to the job (authenticity), 2) take pride in the quality of their work (purpose) and 3) feel good about their surroundings (culture).
From the start, we’ve been conscious to not only hire for skill and aptitude, but also for attitude, willingness to learn, and compassion. This has resulted in a business culture where, although timelines can be tight and expectations high, teams are well positioned to meet the needs of the business through the engagement of supportive managers and teams who genuinely care about their colleagues, about the Firm and about assisting in any capacity to provide the best possible client (or end user) experience.
I believe that our #LoveWhereYouWork business model — anchored in authenticity, purpose and culture — has been, and will continue to be, one of our most meaningful talent attraction and retention tools.
What is the number one thing that you believe will impact Tampa Bay’s competitiveness in the coming decade?
When Baker McKenzie first expanded into the Tampa Bay region, talent was migrating at unprecedented rates. That was appealing to our Firm on the basis that in the professional services space, talent is the most coveted asset. Fast forward to current state and those numbers continue to grow. The continued influx of talent is a powerful metric, as the ability to source high-quality talent will continue to be paramount.
Further, nearly 80 local colleges and higher education institutions are preparing graduates with the skills our local job market demands. I believe that by collaborating with colleges and universities, local organizations and leaders have an opportunity to impact and shape curriculum so that graduate skills continue to be fit for purpose.
How has the EDC played a role in helping your business succeed in Tampa and Hillsborough County?
The Tampa Bay Economic Development Council has been a key connector for our Firm, enabling meaningful bonds with local civic, business and college/university leaders. These relationships enabled us to form strategic partnerships early on and have created space for important collaborations that may not have happened otherwise.
You previously lived and work in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and New York before moving here to open the Tampa Center. What has surprised you most about Tampa and how do you describe our area to your colleagues all over the world?
My career has afforded me opportunities to build and lead businesses across several U.S. cities. Personally, I feel as though the Tampa Bay region represents the “best of all these locations.”
Tampa Bay is diverse in its demographics and is rich in history. The arts are quite literally at our fingertips by way of music festivals, museums and performing arts centers. Culinary options are plentiful and pleasing to the pallet. One can take advantage of catching a professional sporting event virtually all year long. It’s quite possible to start your day downtown on the Hillsborough River, and then catch the sunset at one of the world’s top-rated beaches. Tampa is vibrant and spirited thanks to the number of local colleges and universities, and you’re bound to run into innovative entrepreneurs grabbing a bite at one of our amazing food halls. The business community is collaborative, and our business leaders give back in ways which are commendable. We also have one of the best international airports in the country and the weather is phenomenal. Need I say more?
How are you celebrating Women’s History Month?
I’m celebrating in a multitude of ways, both within the Baker McKenzie community and with other organizations in Tampa Bay. Recently, Baker McKenzie’s Tampa Center welcomed local psychologist and assertiveness expert Dr. Abby Hamilton to address the following question: How are we supposed to break the bias if we don’t even know it is happening? Dr. Abby helped us understand what is going on in our minds, and what we can do about it, in order to have a positive impact and break the bias in ourselves and in the world around us. Hearing these messages and learning about tools for change was inspiring to my colleagues and myself.
Through my external board position with Dress for Success Tampa Bay, we’ve deployed a month-long International Women’s Day campaign, “Your Hour, Her Power.” It’s inspired by the belief that when a woman has access to opportunities that can change her life, she becomes powerful beyond measure. We ask donors to give the equivalent of just one hour of pay, which provides a Dress for Success woman access to programs, services and tools that help support her economic advancement. I encourage you to learn more here and consider donating to the Tampa Bay affiliate.
Finally, through my board involvement with (Fe)League, a network enacting growth and systemic change for women, we partnered with Tampa-based Embarc Collective — an organization helping startup talent build bold, scalable and thriving companies — to host a Women’s Day Founder + Funder collaboration session. The aim of this gathering was to build and maintain a strong community of women founders and investors from across the state who will support one another as they lead, fund and impact the future of Florida.