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Partner Profile: Onno Bakker

Partner Profile: Onno Bakker

Every fortnight we ask a law firm partner a series of rapid-fire questions about their career. This fortnight: DLA Piper's Onno Bakker

Which firm are you with?

DLA Piper.

When did you join that firm?

I joined DLA Piper on 1 February this year.

When were you made a partner of that firm?

I joined as a partner.

Which firm were you at most recently?

Before joining DLA Piper, I was a partner at Linklaters in Amsterdam.

What practice group are you with?

I am part of the finance & projects group, based in Sydney, focusing on banking & finance work. In Australia, the group consists of 22 partners and more than 50 lawyers, while worldwide I am part of a dedicated team of several hundred lawyers practising in major projects work and banking & finance transactions.

What has been the most significant change to your practice area during your career?

I have been fortunate to be able to work in the banking & finance area first in Australia, then for two years in London and, prior to returning to Sydney to join DLA Piper, over eight years in Amsterdam. During that time there have been ups and downs in the markets and most noticeably, of course, the enormous leveraged finance “boom” leading up to the GFC, followed by an almost immediate sharp drop in deals. Needless to say that, as a transactional banking lawyer, the deals, and in particular the terms on which the deals were done, moved hand-in-hand with the market, and most leveraged finance lawyers had to become restructuring experts overnight.

What has been a major career highlight for you?

Having been advised not to take English for my HSC equivalent exams, one of my career highlights is my admission ceremony in the Court of Appeal, five years after arriving here as a new immigrant. Another major highlight was, of course, making partner.

What do you like about being a lawyer?

I love the buzz, working with highly motivated professionals on all sides of a transaction to get the deal across the line, resolving last minute issues and then the appreciation from your clients.

What do you find challenging?

Balancing all competing demands for my time and, partially as a consequence of lack of time, bringing down my golf handicap (although some will say that’s all down to lack of skill).

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

Cooking for friends and family, watching my four children play, sport and travel. Having lived and worked in three jurisdictions, there has been plenty of opportunity for travel and there are many places I still like to visit.

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