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Summer Associate Program

Kirkland’s tradition of giving junior associates a high level of responsibility early in their careers begins with the summer program. Kirkland summer associates work on sophisticated matters alongside the Firm’s associates and partners, who are eager to support and guide them along the way.

To complement hands-on experience, summer associates also participate in a variety of training, mentorship and development opportunities led by Kirkland partners and industry experts, and engage in pro bono and volunteer opportunities to introduce them to the firm’s emphasis on social commitment. A significant component of our program is forming relationships with our attorneys and fellow summers. Our summer program is filled with fun events and activities that integrate summer associates into our culture. 

Legal Education & Professional Development

We have an exceptional commitment to training our lawyers. But don’t just take our word for it — for more than 10 years, Vault has ranked Kirkland among the top five firms in the country for training, and associates frequently cite training opportunities as one of their top reasons for choosing Kirkland.

Kirkland is dedicated to providing our attorneys with unparalleled legal education. Through our innovative and comprehensive curriculum, we foster excellence, empower teams, and cultivate smart collaboration. We provide extensive personalized learning opportunities in a variety of formats, from hands-on workshops to digital modules, to prepare attorneys at every level for client matters. In-house courses are developed by partners, associates, and industry experts in alignment with practice group benchmarks. Kirkland’s innovative and holistic approach to learning includes a Firmwide commitment to mentoring, career advice, and on-the-job teaching.

We combine these programs with real responsibilities and client work from our attorneys’ first days at Kirkland. Junior associates take and defend depositions, draft transaction documents and negotiate deal terms, and argue motions in court. Through it all, our attorneys have plenty of resources behind them, from the partners and senior associates supervising their work to an assigned mentor offering advice and guidance.

Mentorship Program

We believe mentorship is integral to any associate’s integration and continued development. At Kirkland, our mentorship program is driven at the office level to allow for both formal and informal access to mentorship across a variety of associate growth needs. Kirkland’s approach consists of pairing a junior associate with a tenured attorney, either one-on-one or in a pod construct, to meet regularly. Associates also meet with a share partner in their practice group during the year, and feedback from these meetings helps to fuel future legal education and development learning opportunities.

Open Assignment System

Kirkland provides associates with responsibility and autonomy from the very start of their career. Integral to Kirkland’s culture is a belief that lawyers are most successful when they do the work they want to do. The Firm’s unique open assignment system enables our attorneys to take ownership of their career by choosing the matters on which they work while simultaneously providing them with an integrated support network to help ensure that all associates obtain robust work and development opportunities.

At Kirkland, there is no minimum billable hour requirement. Attorneys have the flexibility to manage their work and time, and are given the resources to help maximize their potential.

Associates who are confident, ambitious, and eager to direct their own career development tend to be very successful at Kirkland. We have found the open assignment system yields higher levels of commitment, satisfaction and success in all of our practice areas.


Compensation & Benefits






Kirkland is a true meritocracy that rewards excellence. The quality of an attorney’s work, rather than their class year, determines the responsibilities they receive, and the Firm awards merit-based associate bonuses for individual performance.

Our progressive benefits, services and programs help our attorneys balance the way they manage their careers and personal lives to achieve success. They include:

  • Kirkland’s 401(k) savings plan allows attorneys to plan and save for future financial security through voluntary pre-tax and/or Roth contributions, as well as diversified investment options.
  • Flexible Work Schedules: Attorneys may request a work schedule to accommodate personal circumstances that call for flexibility. While on this schedule, attorneys do not sacrifice merit-based compensation or opportunities for professional growth.

  • Domestic Partner Coverage: Domestic partners of Kirkland employees qualify for full medical, dental and vision insurance.

  • Parental and Adoption Leave: We offer paid leave for the birth, adoption, legal guardianship, foster placement, or surrogacy of a child. All primary caregivers are provided at least 18 weeks of paid parental leave — whether the child is newly born or adopted. Non-primary caregivers are provided 10 weeks of paid leave. Attorneys can take leave continuously or intermittently and may request additional unpaid leave.

    • Knowing everyone's journey is different, we are proud to offer robust resources to support attorneys in making a smooth transition to and then back from leave of absence, including lactation education and personalized support, back-up child or elder care and nanny placement support, tutoring assistance and group programming. We have leading-edge family building and fertility resources for those seeking to build a family, with programming dedicated to communities and families with unique considerations.
  • Parenting Link: This program provides Kirkland attorneys, their spouses, partners and clients practical information from parenting experts. The presentations are held in Kirkland’s offices and provide a forum for parents to connect in an informal setting.

  • Wellness: As the first of its kind in Big Law, our industry-leading wellbeing program supports our lawyers in developing deeper self-awareness and taking action to strengthen their resilience and improve their overall health. We do this in a variety of ways, using technology solutions, on-site events and trainings, and other support programs and resources. We also have a licensed clinical professional counselor on staff who serves as our Director of Wellbeing.

  • Student Loan Refinancing Program: Kirkland has established relationships with multiple lenders that offer cost-effective loan refinancing options for associates and their families, as well as excellent customer service and a streamlined application process.

Additionally, Life@Kirkland is our internal brand of communications, activities, events and storytelling opportunities that represents who we are as Firm. Our attorneys are not only talented, they also all have unique backgrounds, stories and interests, and this is our way of sharing what our “life at Kirkland” looks like. From a Firmwide trivia game and cooking competition to a multi-media book club and a talent contest, there are a variety of exciting activities and events that keep our Firm connected, engaged and balanced.

Lifelong Career Support

At Kirkland, we owe our success to our people — present and past — and we are committed to our attorneys’ individual career path. Whether they retire from the Firm as a partner or leave as an associate, Kirkland will continue to invest in our people and their lifelong career.

  • Kirkland Concierge: As the only program of its kind in BigLaw, Kirkland Concierge provides our attorneys and alumni with a personalized concierge resource to help balance their busy lives. Helping with anything from the ordinary to the extraordinary, Kirkland Concierge helps tackle personal “to do” lists, including grocery and food delivery, gift buying, product comparison research and more!


  • CareerLink: Want to take your career to the next level? Kirkland’s award-winning CareerLink program is designed to maximize your success while at Kirkland and support your post-Kirkland career trajectory.


  • Alumni Engagement Program: Our elite alumni network provides our attorneys access to the most esteemed lawyers in the world. With more than 6,000 alumni around the world, in every practice area of the law, including Judges, C-suite executives, General Counsels and government positions, there are endless opportunities to build relationships and connect with mentors. Get to know some of our talented alumni. Through our alumni program’s innovative learning opportunities, world-class events and lifelong career support, we support our valued Colleagues for Life.