The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Kirkland & Ellis is highly regarded for its private equity, investment funds, restructuring, tax and litigation practices. The US firm's London office employs approximately 170 lawyers and has been advising clients since 1995. Kirkland also has 12 international offices across Asia, North America and Europe.
The star performers
Acquisition finance; Commercial litigation; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Corporate tax; EU and competition; Financial services; High yield; International arbitration; Investment funds; Private equity: transactions: Large-cap deal capability.
Advised Charterhouse Capital Partners on the financing aspects of its acquisition of Optima, an Italian ice cream ingredients manufacturer, from Nocciola; acted for Lone Star on the financing of its secondary market acquisition of the Xella Group; represented Teva Pharmaceuticals in the investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into alleged 'pay for delay' settlement agreements involving the Teva-controlled company IVAX; assisted sovereign wealth fund GIC with its €2.4bn acquisition of P3 Logistic Parks; representing the coordinating committee of the first lien lenders of Jack Wolfskin on the financial restructuring of its €365m debt.
Algeco Scotsman; Bain Capital; Blackstone; Brookfield; Charterhouse; Lion Capital; Onex Corporation; Tenneco; The Harkland Group; Vista Private Equity.
Renowned for its 'private equity focus' and 'entrepreneurial culture', Kirkland & Ellis provides trainees with the 'opportunity to work alongside very talented lawyers'. Several respondents have relished working in 'small deals teams' which has helped to ensure 'exposure to partners on a daily basis'. The 'steep learning curve' is 'incredibly rewarding' and means that 'the jump from trainee to associate isn't as daunting as perhaps it is at other firms'. There is a 'real willingness to give trainees the first go', and highlight moments include 'working on a high-profile transaction which was the biggest of its kind in the year' and 'seeing a deal from due diligence to closing and being involved intimately throughout the process, from drafting parts of the due diligence report to coordinating with other counsel on closing'. The 'culture of meritocracy' means that 'greater levels of responsibility are given' to those who are 'willing and able', though one respondent regretted 'saying yes to everything and reaping the consequences when several deals kicked off at the same time'. The main criticism is definitely the 'long hours' and the '24/7 expectation of availability', with one low moment an 'unexpected full weekend of work'. There is a 'work hard, play hard' vibe, as 'confident and outgoing' colleagues make the most of the firm's 'great social events'. The firm is named a Lex 100 Winner in the salary satisfaction and confidence in being kept on categories. Respondents also speak glowingly about 'receiving thank you emails from encouraging and supportive colleagues', and one trainee appreciated 'getting a good review after lots of hard work'. To train at a firm with a 'prestigious reputation' and a proven track record in handling 'top-quality work', add Kirkland & Ellis to your shortlist.
A day in the life of...
Jack Davies second-year trainee, Kirkland & Ellis
Departments to date: Corporate, litigation
Degree:Law with German Law, 2(1)
8.30am: Before heading into work I check my phone for any emails received overnight. I've been working on a deal with Brazilian and Chinese counsel so I tend to receive updates from them. It's typical at Kirkland to be working with counsel and parties across the globe. I make a note to follow up with one of the senior associates regarding a potential due diligence point raised by the Brazilian counsel.
9.30am: I arrive at the Gherkin and grab a pastry and (sometimes reluctantly) some pieces of fruit from the kitchen before catching up with the senior associate regarding the Brazilian counsel. She asks me to call them to get further information and report back that afternoon.
10.00am: I catch up with my supervisor on another deal and he asks me to research a point about 'entire agreement' clauses. Using the various online and library sources available, I draft a short memo for my supervisor.
11.30am: After having presented my findings, I have a call with local counsel to discuss progress on due diligence on a large transaction. As a trainee, you're given significant responsibility so I lead the call, assisted by the junior associate on the deal, and take notes to follow up with the deal team senior associate. The small deal teams ensure trainees are meaningfully integrated and truly feel valued. Though trainees are given a lot of responsibility, associates are also closely involved and are always approachable and available to provide guidance and feedback on a continuous basis.
12.30pm: A few other trainees and I visit the weekly street food market outside the Gherkin. Steak and chips for £7.50: bargain.
1.20pm: Arriving back at my desk, I receive a call from the competition team, as I'm helping them with an investigation. Though I'm busy in corporate, I have been helping the competition team to review some French documents in respect of an ongoing investigation. As a trainee at Kirkland, you are encouraged and, due to the firm's flexible environment, genuinely able to assist others on various projects when required.
2.45pm: After reviewing some documents, I draft several corporate authorisations in respect of a transaction for one of our clients. I provide them to an associate for review and then send out to the client for signature. At Kirkland, even as trainees you're able to interact directly with clients.
3.30pm: I'm helping a charity purchase some equipment on one of my pro bono matters and review a draft contract. I provide my comments to the partner I'm working with on the matter; she provides some further comments and I send the mark-up to the client and set up a call to discuss.
4.45pm: Back on the main deal I'm working on, I speak to the Brazilian counsel and provide an update to the senior associate. The deal team has a progress meeting and I'm tasked with collating the current draft of the due diligence report. I collate the report and then help the senior associate mark up the management warranty deed.
7.00pm: Having circulated the draft due diligence report to the various teams for comment, I update the deal document signing checklist and write a to-do list for tomorrow morning. I also catch up with the competition team on the documents I reviewed that day for their investigation.
8.00pm: I head out to play football with the Kirkland five-a-side team. Though I'm pretty terrible at football, it's always a good laugh and everyone in the firm is encouraged to get involved. We then go out for a couple of drinks before heading home.
About the firm
Address:30 St Mary Axe, London, EC3A 8AF
Telephone: 020 7469 2000
Fax:020 7469 2001
Total partners: 850
Other fee-earners: 1,050
Total trainees: 20
Other offices: Beijing, Boston, Chicago, Hong Kong, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Shanghai, Washington DC
Who we are: Kirkland & Ellis is an international law firm with more than 1,900 lawyers representing global clients in offices worldwide.
What we do: In London we are renowned for providing multidisciplinary advice to our wide range of leading private equity clients. We also have a market-leading international arbitration and litigation practice which represents a large range of clients across all sectors globally.
What we are looking for: We are looking for intelligent, motivated, ambitious individuals who can bring a sense of initiative and commercial awareness to our teams.
What you'll do:Much of our training is on the job, working shoulder to shoulder with partners and associates. This is supplemented by our compulsory trainee training programme, designed to equip you with the skills required to succeed as a junior lawyer.
Perks: Offices in the Gherkin; discretionary bonus; free breakfast; gym membership subsidy; life insurance; private healthcare; cycle to work scheme; dental plan; travel insurance.
Sponsorship:All trainees are required to undertake their GDL and/or LPC at the University of Law. Full sponsorship and maintenance grant of £8,000 provided for both courses.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 10
Applications received pa: 1,000
Percentage interviewed: 12%
First year: £50,000
Second year: £55,000
Newly qualified: $180,000
Apply to:Lauren Massey, graduate recruitment co-ordinator
What's involved: Video interview, interviews with partners.
When to Apply:
Training Contract beginning in 2020: By 15 July 2018.
Summer Vacation Scheme: By 7 January 2018.