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What They Do
Give clients access to a team of more than 650 attorneys and public policy advisors representing more than 30 practice areas to serve a wide range of legal needs. Clients receive guidance from multi-disciplined industry and client service teams, connected across 19 offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, D.C.
Headquarters: Memphis, Tennessee
Annual Revenues: $277 Million.
What Makes Baker Donelson Great
Baker Donelson is a large law firm but still has a warm, caring environment that's infused with elements of fun. That's notable because even the best law firms can feel like stodgy places where there's a strict separation between non-legal staffers and attorneys.
At Baker Donelson, however, a once-a-month Recess at Work day brings employees from all departments together to play old-school games like dodge ball, tag, tricycle races, and more. This is only one example of an array of celebrations, parties, and family events that cause nearly everyone (96 percent) to say that they have a chance to celebrate special events at work. Perhaps even more notably, 87 percent of staff say that they are treated as full members of the organization, regardless of their position.
“The attitudes of everyone here are spectacular,” one employee says. “Everyone cooperates and supports one another. Everyone pitches in whenever there is a big project or deal going on.”
Nine out of 10 employees say Baker Donelson has a “family” or “team” feeling and that they can be themselves at work and count on colleagues to cooperate.
Following rapid growth in the early 2000s, leaders placed an emphasis on the firm's culture, developing a set of four values and 12 "Standards of Excellence." Employees say CEO Ben Adams, Jr.'s transparent and personable leadership style has pushed the firm in a new direction.
“I love how most of my superiors are down to earth, cool and laid back ... no huge ego,” one employee say. “It makes me want to work that much harder to accomplish any task at hand!”
The company widely shares information about performance, goals, successes, and even setbacks. For example, each morning, staff gather in cross-functional groups for a 10-minute "Daily Docket" meeting that includes updates and discussion about one of the firm's values or standards of excellence. This type of regular communication creates a lot of confidence in the company's leadership; 92 percent report that management has a clear view of where the organization is going and how to get there, and even more would describe leadership as competent, honest and ethical in its business practices.
“You never have to guess about what is going on in the firm, nor do you have to wonder upon what information is management basing decisions,” one employee says.
Employees at the firm care about each other and do lots of pro bono work in the community, too. In 2013, the firm's attorneys logged nearly 15,000 hours on projects addressing everything from homelessness to the death penalty. It's not surprising then that 95 percent of employees say they feel good about the ways the company contributes to the community.
"This company is exemplary when allowing employees the opportunity to work on projects in the community," one employee says.
And Baker Donelson isn't just a nice group of people. Fun aside, at Baker Donelson 93 percent of employees say that they carry a lot of responsibility and that everyone is willing to give extra to get the job done. As hard as the work is, employees describe a well-run organization where people get strong training and development support, as well as the support to take time off when they require it. While work-life balance is a classic struggle for many in the law profession, and long hours are certainly required here as well, Baker Donelson employees nonetheless state that 94 percent of them are able to take time off from work when they need to, and 88 percent say that people are actually encouraged to create balance in their lives. Flexible work schedules, increased telecommuting support, and sabbatical programs are some of the ways the company supports its people in this regard.
Given that 94 percent of employees say Baker Donelson is a great workplace, employees don't seem to share widespread concern about areas that need to be improved. While nearly nine in 10 say they're paid fairly, some might like to see a larger share of profits; however three-quarters of the group still say that they receive a fair share of the organization's profits. And while the firm generally seems to distinguish itself in its inclusivity, some still feel there is a separation between staff and attorneys in the workplace. Nevertheless, many people said that they couldn't think of anything to improve.
"Many of the things in the past that I wanted to see changed were changed," one employee says.
“The firm culture is great,” adds another. “I do not feel the pressure to work an obscene amount of hours while trying to manage my family. I feel at ease with no tension in the air.”
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