2022 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“The hours can be demanding.”
“Lack of transparency with partnership.”
“Very high expectations.”
About Kirkland & Ellis
Kirkland & Ellis, one 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 2,900 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, 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 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 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 that works 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 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, 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 comprehensive directory, networking events, concierge services, and free CLEs.
News & Awards
- On a pro bono basis, Kirkland represented students and alumni from Maryland’s four historically Black colleagues and universities who sued the state for failure to dismantle the remnants of its former segregated higher education system. After 12 years, two trials, five mediations, a Fourth Circuit appeal, and three legislative hearings, the case culminated in a $577 million legislative settlement in March 2021—one of the largest pro bono settlements in history.
- Kirkland advised Bristol-Myers Squibb in its US$90 billion acquisition of Celgene, the largest biopharmaceutical deal in history by transaction value.
- Kirkland litigators represent General Motors in federal and state multidistrict litigation involving personal injury cases, consumer-fraud class actions, and related bankruptcy proceedings arising from ignition switch recalls. Kirkland has won defense verdicts in three bellwether trials as well as dismissals of hundreds of personal injury claims.
- Kirkland has one of the largest private equity practices in the world, serving more than 450 sponsors from the bulge bracket to the middle market and regularly representing many of the world’s largest private equity firms. The firm has ranked first in Mergermarket’s private equity buyouts league tables by deal count in the U.S. and globally for the last 11 years.
- Corporate Equality Index (100%), 2021—Human Rights Campaign
- Best Law Firms for Women, 2021—Working Mother
- The A-List, 2020—The American Lawyer
- Practice Groups of the Year, 2020: Appellate, Capital Markets, Class Action, Energy, Intellectual Property, Real Estate, and Trials—Law360
- “Highly Commended” and “Outstanding Firm for Pro Bono,” Diversity & Inclusion Awards: North America, 2021—Chambers & Partners
Why Work Here
Kirkland & Ellis is one of the world’s most elite law firms and is recognized for our exceptional service to clients in private equity, M&A and other complex corporate transactions, litigation and dispute resolution/arbitration, restructuring, and intellectual property matters. We believe in creative solutions fueled by teamwork and are dedicated to providing our clients with superior results. We invest in our talent and build dynamic teams that operate at the pinnacle of their practice. With lawyers coming from the world’s finest law schools, Kirkland is known as an industry leader in recruiting, retaining and advancing the brightest legal talent. Our reputation for excellence is recognized globally.
300 N LaSalle
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 862-2000
Management Committee Chair: Jon A. Ballis
Hiring Partners: Stephanie Berdik and Matthew Cohn (Boston); Ryan Bennett, Nader Boulos, and Shelly Hirschtritt (Chicago); Anthony Speier (Texas); Hamed Meshki, & Pippa Bond (LA); Lauren Casazza, Jon Davis, and Chris Greco (NY); Vlad Kroll and Brandon Brown (Palo Alto/San Francisco); Ragan Naresh and Bridget O’Connor (DC); Li-Chien Wong (Asia); Sarah Jordan, William Burke, and Matthew Elliott (London); Achim Herfs and Wolfgang Nardi (Munich)
Total No. Attorneys (2021):
2.5K - 3K
Base Salary (2021)
Class of 2020: $205,000
Class of 2019: $215,000
Class of 2018: $240,000
Class of 2017: $275,000
Class of 2016: $305,000
Class of 2015: $330,000
Summer Associate: $3942/week
for office-specific email addresses.
No. of U.S. Offices: 10
No. of International Offices: 7
Austin, TX - Boston, MA
Los Angeles, CA (DTLA and Century City)
New York, NY
Palo Alto, CA
San Francisco, CA
Washington, DC | Beijing
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.