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At a Glance

Uppers

“Colleagues are both kind and impressive.”

“[Open] assignment system.”

Downers

“Lack of equity partnership prospects.”

“Finding work in a slow market can be difficult.”

About Kirkland & Ellis

Kirkland & Ellis, one of the world’s most elite law firms, is known for its corporate, intellectual property, litigation, M&A, private equity, and restructuring work. With more than 3,500 lawyers, the firm is regularly recognized as one of the most successful in the world.

Extra, Extra!

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 Tribune 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

Practicing in four main areas—transactional, litigation, IP litigation, and restructuring—Kirkland lawyers work across more than 60 practice areas. Some of the biggest names, including Abbott Laboratories, Ares Management, Bain Capital, Blackstone Group, BP, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dow Chemical, Eli Lilly, General Motors, IBM, Intel, KKR, Oaktree Capital, Samsung, Vista Equity Partners, among others—call on the firm for help with their most complex issues.

Kirkland has a booming transactional practice. The firm is a private equity powerhouse—with more than 500 private equity firms among its client list—and is the No. 1 firm in Vault’s Private Equity ranking. The firm handles all aspects of deals, from fundraising to exits. 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. The practice brings interdisciplinary experience, with lawyers from antitrust, executive compensation, finance, IP, regulatory, and tax groups collaborating with the M&A team.

The firm is also home to an all-star restructuring team that works in such wide-ranging industries as automotive, energy, entertainment, healthcare, 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, ERISA, and 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 pursue outside opportunities are considered “colleagues for life.” The firm’s career support program CareerLink—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, confidential career coaching, as well as job-searching tools for those looking to exit, including a “playbook,” a job board, and tips on everything from resumes to interviewing and networking. Alumni also have access to a comprehensive directory, networking events, concierge services, and free CLEs.

News & Awards

NOTABLE CASES
  • A Kirkland litigation team devoted 38,000 pro bono hours to a 12-year case for Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities, resulting in a landmark $577 million settlement to help dismantle vestiges of segregation in the state’s higher education system. Since the 2021 settlement and remedial plan, Maryland’s HBCUs have developed new programming, including a potential school of veterinary medicine at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
  • Kirkland’s renowned litigators routinely win high-stakes matters, such as a complete defense jury verdict for Samsung in February 2024 in a multi-patent lawsuit alleging $4 billion in damages, which would have been the largest patent verdict in U.S. history. The Firm also represented 3M in America’s largest multidistrict litigation matter.
  • Kirkland is known for leading cutting-edge transactions such as Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P.’s (NYSE: BIP; TSX; BIP.UN) landmark agreement with Intel to jointly fund a $30 billion semiconductor plant in Arizona.
  • Kirkland attorneys, working pro bono alongside the National Immigrant Justice Center, reached a historic settlement with the U.S. government establishing a timeline for making asylum application decisions for approximately 20,000 Afghans who fled Taliban. By the end of 2023, the government had met its first deadline of adjudicating applications.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
  • Best Law Firms for Women, 2012-2023 – Seramount
  • Best Places to Work For LGBTQ+ Equality, 2008-2024 – Human Rights Campaign
  • Best Law Firms to Work For 2024 – U.S. News & World Report
  • America's Top Law Firms of 2024 -- TIME and Statista
  • Prestige Leaders -- Law360 (Kirkland ranked #1 out of 100 firms based on prominence, power and distinction)
Kirkland & Ellis

333 West Wolf Point Plaza
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 862-2000

Firm Stats

Management Committee Chair: Jon A. Ballis
Firmwide Chairs: Stefan Atkinson, Chris Greco, Kim Hicks, Nisha Kanchanapoomi
Total No. Attorneys (2024):
3.5K - 4K
No. of Partners Named 2023:
208

No. of U.S. Offices: 11

No. of International Offices: 8

Major Office Locations

Austin, TX - Boston, MA
Bay Area, CA (San Francisco and Palo Alto)
Chicago, IL
Dallas, TX
Houston, TX
Los Angeles, CA (DTLA and Century City)
Miami, FL
New York, NY
Salt Lake City, UT
Washington, D.C. | Beijing
Brussels
Hong Kong
London
Munich
Paris
Shanghai
Riyadh