Kirkland & Ellis LLP at a Glance


  • “Above market bonuses”
  • “Ability to choose for whom you work”
  • “Flexibility”


  • “High level of stress”
  • “The hours can be long and unpredictable”
  • “Lack of diversity”

About Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Kirkland & Ellis has a strong reputation in private equity, M&A and other complex corporate transactions, litigation, restructuring and intellectual property that stretches worldwide.

Extra, Extra!

In 1909, fresh-faced attorneys Stuart Shepard and Robert McCormick struck up a partnership in Chicago, laying the foundation for the growth of one of the world's largest and most successful law firms. McCormick descended from money and influence (his grandfather founded the Chicago Tribune), and he used this sway to funnel business to the nascent firm. He eventually became so involved as outside counsel with the Trib's business endeavors that he 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 (the University of Chicago actually named its moot courtroom after him). 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.

Spruced Up

Kirkland's next act began in 1938, when the firm lured a young DOJ trial lawyer into the private sector: Hammond Chaffetz. According to the firm's website, Chaffetz "ushered in the modern era of the firm," placing a newfound emphasis on recruiting and grooming of promising candidates at top law schools. The firm boasts an impressive roster of partners and alumni, including Thomas Yannucci, a defamation soldier who was once named one of Washington's most-feared lawyers; Jay Lefkowitz, the former special envoy for human rights in North Korea; and business, nonprofit, and government leaders across the globe spanning organizations from Apple, Facebook, the DOJ, Uber, Walt Disney, Twitter, NBC, The Nature Conservancy, and Amazon to the Executive Office of the President of the United States.

But Kirkland isn't just about recruiting the best-the firm focuses on development, too. Through its open assignment system, associates have the freedom to develop their careers by selecting their areas of interest and assignments. This independence is supported by hands-on, practice-specific training-known as the Kirkland Institute-including extensive litigation training with the Kirkland Institute for Trial Advocacy ("KITA"), which features a mock jury trial that spans two days.

Investing in the Future

Kirkland has made headlines for its hiring in recent years, bringing in high-profile partners in areas like M&A, energy, intellectual property, government investigations and enforcement work, and appellate litigation. In 2016, Kirkland made a splash by bringing on top appellate litigation boutique Bancroft PLLC, adding former Solicitor General Paul Clement and firm founder Viet Dinh to their ranks. Kirkland has also recently expanded its presence around the world, notably in New York, London, and Hong Kong, and opened its thirteenth office in Boston in 2017. Kirkland has also been lauded for helping its lawyers leave. Its alumni program is one of the most comprehensive of its kind in BigLaw. The program aims to create lifelong relationships with Kirkland attorneys, and involves networking events, mentoring, CLE programs, an alumni website, and career coaching and job banks to help lawyers past and present land new opportunities.

Patron of the Smarts

For more than 30 years, Kirkland has provided significant financial support to leading law and business schools. In 2015, Kirkland made a gift nearing $5.5 million to endow a fund to support the University of Chicago Law School's Corporate Lab, which provides students with real-world experience and teaches the "building blocks" of corporate law. The program hosts conferences, speaker series, and the Transactional Challenge, an annual competition in which rising 2Ls compete against one another in a series of "real-world" corporate exercises. Kirkland partners and the Kirkland & Ellis Foundation have also recently made large-scale financial contributions to Stanford Law School, the University of Michigan Law School, Northwestern University School of Law and Columbia Law School. In addition, the firm sponsors a Diversity Fellowship Program. Applicants must apply to and receive an offer to join the summer program at one of Kirkland's offices. Each Fellowship recipient receives a $25,000 stipend.


Big Buyouts

Kirkland's top-ranked transactional practice handles complex transactions for public and private companies and private equity firms worldwide. Mergermarket has ranked Kirkland as the #1 firm for global and U.S. buyouts by deal volume every year since 2011. Recent work includes representing Huntsman Corporation in its agreement to combine with Clariant through a transaction valued at approximately $20 billion in enterprise value, Mead Johnson Nutrition Company in its acquisition by Reckitt Benckiser Group for approximately $17.9 billion, Blackstone in its $4.8 billion acquisition of Aon's HR platform, and Bain Capital Private Equity in its $3.2 billion acquisition of Sealed Air's Diversey Care.

Restructuring 'Round the World

Kirkland's bankruptcy and restructuring practice continues to guide major clients through Chapter 11 proceedings, out-of-court restructurings, debtor mass torts, and distressed asset sales across a variety of industries. In the past few years, the firm has represented Energy Future Holdings and Caesars Entertainment Operating Company in their Chapter 11 cases, among the largest ever filed in U.S. history. The firm has also represented a number of Chapter 11 debtors in the energy industry, including Sabine Oil & Gas, Samson Energy and SandRidge Energy. Kirkland has also handled international restructurings in Europe, Asia, Canada, and Latin America.

May 2017
Welcome to Beantown

Kirkland announced in May 2017 that it is expanding with the opening of an office in Boston-the firm's eighth location in the United States and thirteenth worldwide. Located in the heart of Back Bay, the new office builds off of Kirkland's longstanding ties to Boston-based clients, including several top-tier private equity firms.

Voting Rights Defenders

Kirkland won a landmark voting rights case on behalf of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and 95-year-old civil rights icon Rosanell Eaton in July 2016 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit invalidated a North Carolina voting statute that restricted voting opportunities and burdened the right to vote for African Americans. The victory ensured that the restrictive statute would not be in effect for the 2016 election. In May 2017, the Supreme Court denied the State of North Carolina's petition for certiorari.

October 2016
Appellate A-Listers

Kirkland strengthened its premier litigation practice in October 2016 when Bancroft PLLC, a top appellate litigation boutique in Washington, D.C., joined the firm. Kirkland welcomed all of Bancroft's attorneys, including Paul Clement, former U.S. Solicitor General and top U.S. Supreme Court and appellate lawyer who has argued more than 80 cases before the Supreme Court, and Viet Dinh, Bancroft founder and former U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy.        

August 2016
Cool Court Win

Kirkland represented Energy Labs in an IP suit in which a competitor, Nortek Air Solutions, sued for patent infringement related to its HVAC system air-handling units. If Energy Labs lost, the company could have paid millions in damages and faced an injunction forcing it to stop selling its entire product line. But Kirkland attorneys uncovered new evidence that led a jury in August 2016 to reject all eight of Nortek's claims of patent infringement and invalidate four of seven patent claims Energy Labs challenged. Though rendered unnecessary by its non-infringement verdict, the jury specified no damages.

- Show Less + Show Full Description

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

300 North LaSalle
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: (312) 862-2000


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Management Committee Chair: Jeffrey C. Hammes
  • Hiring Partners: Nader Boulos & Shelly Hirschtritt (Chicago); Anthony Speier (Houston); Diana Torres, Hamed Meshki & Tana Ryan (Los Angeles); Jason Kanner, Lauren Casazza & Ashley Gregory (New York); Elizabeth Deeley & Jeremy Veit (Palo Alto/San Francisco); Daniel Donovan & Edwin U (Washington); Jesse Sheley & Li-Chien Wong (Asia); Ashley Young, William Burke & Matthew Elliott (London); Achim Herfs & Wolfgang Nardi (Munich)
  • Total No. Attorneys 2017: 2,000

  • Base Salary
    All US offices:
    1st year: $180,000
    2nd year: $190,000
    3rd year: $210,000
    4th year: $235,000
    5th year: $260,000
    6th year: $280,000
    Summer Associate: $7,500 semi-monthly

  • Summer Associate Offers
    148 out of 148 (2Ls) (2016)

  • Major Departments & Practices
    Antitrust & Competition • Private Equity • Mergers & Acquisitions • Government & Internal Investigations • Intellectual Property • International Trade & National Security • Litigation • Real Estate • Regulatory • Restructuring • Tax, Benefits & Estate Planning

Major Office Locations

  • Boston, MA • Chicago, IL • Houston, TX • Los Angeles, CA • New York, NY • Palo Alto, CA • San Francisco, CA • Washington, DC Beijing • Hong Kong • London • Munich • Shanghai