2019 Vault Rankings
“Great work-life balance”
“The culture is pleasant”
“Early responsibility on exciting and interesting cases”
“Compensation is opaque and at times below market”
“Not enough work”
“Lack of transparency”
What a difference a couple of years make: the firm now branded K&L Gates has undergone a series of identity-shifting mergers in modern times. On the strength of several such deals, the firm has grown into one of BigLaw’s more massive operations while working on everything from corporate transactions and complex litigation to environmental law and policy work.
The new Millennium saw a flurry of mergers, which formed what we now know as K&L Gates. In January 2007, Seattle’s Preston Gates & Ellis got hitched to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham (itself the product of one of the largest U.S.-UK mergers in legal history: the 2005 pairing of Pittsburgh-based Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and London’s Nicholson Graham & Jones). A year later, the reshaped firm merged with Texas-based Hughes & Luce, increasing K&L Gates’ presence in the Lone Star State. In July 2008, the firm combined with Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman, a household name in Carolina legal circles; the merger gave K&L Gates a significant presence throughout the Carolinas. The addition of Chicago firm Bell, Boyd & Lloyd’s 250 lawyers and lobbyists eight months thereafter (in March 2009) bolstered K&L Gates’ ranks in Chicago and DC.
With all of these parts comes a lot of history. Kirkpatrick & Lockhart dates back to 1946, when a team of seven Reed Smith attorneys hung out a shingle together. After flourishing in Pennsylvania, the firm reached the Washington, DC area through a 1981 tie-up with Hill Christopher & Phillips, a boutique focused on securities law. From there, the firm spread to Boston, Miami, New York, Texas, and California. The merger with Nicholson Graham—a firm that dated back to mid-19th-century England—cemented K&L Gates’ status as an international firm.
As for Preston Gates—as in William H. Gates Sr., father of Microsoft honcho Bill—the West Coast firm was well-known for its work in the IP, technology, and public policy sectors, as well as its lobbying clout.
International expansion has been on K&L Gates' agenda in recent years. The firm has broadened its presence in Europe and Asia with the opening of offices in Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Frankfurt, Milan, Munich, and Warsaw; has debuted in the growing Middle East markets with Dubai and Doha offices; and entered the South American market with an office in São Paulo. In January 2013, K&L Gates combined with Australian national law firm Middletons, adding four offices in Australia and extending the firm’s presence in the Asia Pacific region. 2013 also saw a few strategic moves in the United States, with office openings in Wilmington and Houston, along with the consolidation of the four-lawyer San Diego office and the firm’s growing Orange County office to allow the firm to take advantage of the synergies in practice between the two.
At the same time, the firm has expanded the scope of its practice, taking a full-service approach to its work with clients across many industries (don't be fooled by the short list of core practice areas; each contains a slew of specialist and industry sub-groups). Unlike some big firms that rely on a few key clients for the bulk of their billings, K&L Gates' policy of diversification means that its revenues are spread widely across many clients.
IN THE NEWS
K&L Gates advised telecommunications company T-Mobile in the recently announced merger between T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp., valued at approximately $26.5 billion.
K&L Gates continued the fight against “revenge porn” via the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project (CCRLP) which provides pro bono legal help to victims of nonconsensual pornography or cyber exploitation. Notable results included securing a $6.45 million judgment from the U.S. District Court Central District of California for a plaintiff’s claims of copyright infringement, online impersonation with intent to harm, stalking, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (March 2018). The CCRLP also helped a Seattle couple obtain an $8.9 million verdict against their cyberstalker after he partook in a systematic, targeted, online vengeance campaign against the couple.
K&L Gates was one of the first law firms ever to implement plans to establish its own private blockchain to assist in the exploration, creation, and implementation of smart contracts and other technology applications for future client use. The firm plans to utilize identity, asset, and encryption modules from UK/Swedish technology company Chainvine in order to allow lawyers and IT staff to explore and create intelligent contracts.
The firm launched a European Patent Office (EPO) practice. The EPO practice allows K&L Gates to better meet the global IP needs of its clients through filing and prosecuting European patent applications and handle oppositions at the EPO. Combined with the firm’s already-extensive network of IP procurement, portfolio management, and litigation lawyers and patent attorneys throughout the world, the launch of the EPO practice makes K&L Gates the only fully integrated global law firm to offer full-service patent capabilities to its clients in the United States, Australia, and Europe.
K&L Gates advised Arizona-based Healthcare Trust of America, Inc. (NYSE:HTA), the largest owner and operator of medical office buildings in the United States, on the $2.3 billion acquisition of 72 medical office buildings and development parcels from Indiana-based Duke Realty Corporation (NYSE:DRE). The acquisition transpired over four serial closings between May and July, the first closing occurring less than one month after HTA reached a definitive agreement with Duke to acquire the portfolio and platform. The firm has a longstanding client relationship with HTA, having also advised the real estate investment trust on several other acquisitions in 2017.
K&L Gates and Forbes Insights released a white paper, General Counsel in the Age of Disruption, on the rapidly shifting role of general counsel in the manufacturing sector. The report is based upon extensive research collected from a survey of 200 general counsel and senior executives across Europe. The white paper examines how factors such as regulation, emerging technologies, geopolitical shifts, and international expansion have changed—and continue to change—the role of general counsel. Topics include the pressures and challenges facing general counsel in this manufacturing sector, such as international trade, policy and regulations, and cybersecurity and data protection.
K&L Gates Center
210 Sixth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: (412) 355-6500
Employer Type: Private
Chairman of Management Committee: Michael S. Caccese
Global Managing Partner: James R. Segerdahl
U.S. Regional Managing Partner: Michael G. Zanic
Total No. Attorneys 2018: 1,900
Starting salaries fall between $145,000 and $180,000, based on dynamics of the local market.
53 out of 56 (2Ls) (2017)
Fort Worth, TX
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
Orange County, CA
Palo Alto, CA
Research Triangle Park, NC
San Francisco, CA
Corporate & Transactional
Energy, Infrastructure & Resources
Labor, Employment and Workplace Safety
Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Policy & Regulatory