2020 Vault Rankings
- New York#10
At a Glance
“Quality of work.”
“Long hours and heavy workload.”
“Clients can be very demanding.”
About Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Kirkland & Ellis, one the world’s most elite law firms, is recognized for its corporate, intellectual property, litigation, M&A, private equity, and restructuring work. With around 2,500 lawyers, the firm is regularly recognized as one of the most successful in the world.
In 1909, fresh-faced attorneys Stuart Shepard and Robert McCormick struck up a partnership in Chicago. McCormick’s grandfather founded the Chicago Tribune, and McCormick left the firm in 1920 to become the paper’s publisher—a move that he used to send more business the firm’s way, tapping Kirkland trial lawyer Weymouth Kirkland to defend the Trib in defamation suits. Kirkland soon eclipsed the firm founders as the face of the outfit, carving a legacy defined by his defense of newspapers in significant free speech and libel cases. As for the other half of the current firm’s nameplate, Howard Ellis came on board in 1915. Ellis was a champion of the “fair comment” defense, a privilege that protects published or spoken opinions directed at public officials and figures.
Megafirm, Mega Practices
Counseling in four main areas—IP, litigation, restructuring, and transactional—Kirkland lawyers work across more than 60 practice areas. Some of the biggest names around call on the firm for their most complex issues, including Abbott Laboratories, Ares Management, Bain Capital, Blackstone Group, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Boeing, BP, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cisco, Dow Chemical, Facebook, General Motors, IBM, Intel, KKR, Nike, Oaktree Capital, Vista Equity Partners—and the list goes on.
Kirkland has a booming transactional practice. The firm is a private equity powerhouse—with more than 450 private equity firms among its client list. The firm handles all aspects of deals from fundraising through exits. And its M&A lawyers are among the best in the industry. Nestled within the top five firms of Vault’s M&A ranking, Kirkland advises on some of the biggest deals around. The practice brings interdisciplinary experience, with lawyers from antitrust, executive compensation, finance, IP, regulatory, and tax collaborating with the M&A team.
The firm is also home to an all-star restructuring team, who touch work in such wide-ranging industries as automotive, energy, entertainment, health care, manufacturing, media, real estate, retail, telecommunications, and transportation. The firm’s litigation department is a force as well—and we mean force. The firm has more than 700 litigators around the globe, handling everything from consumer fraud to ERISA to product liability to securities litigation, and so much more.
Colleagues for Life
There’s no such thing as burning bridges at Kirkland—lawyers who retire or who pursue outside opportunities are considered “colleagues for life.” The firm’s career support program Career Link—which was recognized by Financial Times’ North America Innovative Lawyers Awards in 2016—provides the firm’s lawyers and alumni access to one-on-one career coaching, a job search “playbook,” a job board, and job-search tips on everything from resumes to interviews to networking. Alumni also have access to a directory, networking events, and free CLEs.
News & Awards
In May 2019, Kirkland launched a pioneering Wellbeing Program that proactively works with lawyers on issues related to mental health and substance misuse—two crucial issues in the legal community. The initiative offers education and dialogue centered on resilience, connection, and fitness/nutrition and will identify ways to support those dealing with substance misuse or other mental health concerns.
Kirkland’s footprint expanded during the last year with the opening of new offices in Dallas (July 2018) and Paris (March 2019) and a second Los Angeles location in Century City (March 2019). Top local talent joined seasoned Kirkland veterans to launch the new locations and provide enhanced service to clients worldwide.
In 2018, Kirkland attorneys worldwide devoted more than 137,000 hours to pro bono clients—a record for pro bono service. Notably, the firm’s lawyers defended immigrant families adversely affected by the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. In an effort to reunite children with their parents, teams of Kirkland lawyers have assisted clients at detention centers across South Texas, while others handled credible fear interviews remotely.
Recognizing the challenge of maintaining work/life balance, the firm introduced Kirkland Concierge, a personal assistance service for all attorneys and alumni, in November 2018. The comprehensive concierge service helps attorneys more efficiently manage their professional and personal obligations, so they can devote their time to the activities that matter most to them. Kirkland Concierge staff are available 24/7 to handle a variety of requests, including: travel accommodations (airfare, hotels, car rentals, and itineraries); day-to-day errands (meal planning, dry cleaning, moving, home renovations, and repairs); and entertainment (restaurant reservations, party planning, tickets to events, and activities).
- Advised Bristol-Myers Squibb on its pending $90 billion acquisition of Celgene—the largest-ever acquisition of a pharmaceutical company and 2019’s largest M&A transaction thus far.
- Obtained a $16.4 million verdict for Dyson following a two-week jury trial over false advertising claims made by competitor SharkNinja.
- Advised Vista Equity Partners and portfolio companies in dozens of transactions across varied industries, including the $4.75 billion sale of Marketo; $3 billion sale of PowerSchool; and $1.55 billion acquisition of EAB.
- Represented iHeartMedia in the successful restructuring of more than $16 billion in funded debt—the largest Chapter 11 cases filed in 2018 by outstanding debt.
- Pro Bono Publico Award, 2018 (The Legal Aid Society)
- 60 Best Law Firms for Women, 2019 (Working Mother)
- Corporate Equality Index (100%), 2019 (Human Rights Campaign)
- Best Law Firm of the Year, 2018 (The American Lawyer)
- Practice Groups of the Year, 2018—Appellate, Bankruptcy, Class Action, Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment, Private Equity (Law360)
Management Committee Chair: Jon A. Ballis, P.C.
Hiring Partners: Stephanie Berdik & Matthew Cohn (Boston); Ryan Bennett, Nader Boulos, & Shelly Hirschtritt (Chicago); Anthony Speier (Dallas/Houston); Pippa Bond, Kimberly Branscome, & Hamed Meshki (LA); Lauren Casazza, Jonathan Davis, & Christopher Greco (NY); Vlad Kroll & Jeremy Veit (Palo Alto/San Francisco); Ragan Naresh & Bridget O’Connor (Washington, DC); Li-Chien Wong (Asia); William Burke, Matthew Elliott, & Sarah Jordan (London); Achim Herfs & Wolfgang Nardi (Munich)
Total No. Attorneys 2019:
2.5K - 3K
All U.S. offices:
1st year: $190,000
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $220,000
4th year: $255,000
5th year: $280,000
6th year: $305,000
Summer associate: $3,654/week
Summer Associate Offers:
291 out of 292 (2Ls) (2019)
No. of Summer Associates:
319 total (292 2Ls; 26 1Ls; 1 3L)
See firm website for more information.
Los Angeles, CA (DTLA and Century City)
New York, NY
Palo Alto, CA
San Francisco, CA
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.