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A man for all seasons

In January 2003, Ralph H. Baxter, Jr. was voted in for his 5th term as chairman and CEO of Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, LLP. In the thirteen years of his tenure, the firm has doubled in size, quintupled in revenues and expanded from a domestic to international practice. As success often breeds success or at least the hope of it, Baxter is now more enthusiastic than ever to extend the firm’s growing international presence, despite the prevailing economic uncertainty. Caroline Poynton talks to the man leading the pack.

1 May 2003

Ralph Baxter has an easy-going, softly spoken manner that seems to belie the stereotypical image of a global CEO. You quickly sense, however, that this is really the kind of calm self-assurance born of past success and the obvious trust placed in him by colleagues and employees across the globe. After all, they have just elected him into the chairman’s seat for the 5th time, giving him a fairly clear indication that he’s been doing something fundamentally right for the past 13 years.

In a world of change, he says that his vision for the firm has remained constant, that is: “To lead the firm, in any way I can, to being, in fact and recognition, one of the greatest law firms in the world.” It sounds wonderful, but probably says as much about Baxter’s drive and ambition as the past and future progress of the firm.

A childhood interest in law, spurred on by fictional representations of the drama of the courtroom, convinced Baxter to take up law and speci...

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