The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Kirkland & Ellis’s London headcount has increased considerably in recent years. The US firm entered London in 1994, and earns plaudits for its private equity, investment funds, restructuring and litigation practices. The firm has a presence across Asia, North America and Europe.
The star performers
Acquisition finance; Commercial litigation; Corporate crime (including fraud, bribery and corruption); Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Corporate tax; EU and competition; Financial services (non-contentious/regulatory); High yield; International arbitration; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Private equity: transactions: Large-cap deal capability; Private funds.
Advised Bain Capital on the €485m financing of its acquisition of the Wittur Group; advised Pamplona Capital on the €315m financing of its acquisition of Partner in Pet Food from Advent International; advised Centerbridge Partners as majority lender on the debt-for-equity restructuring of Apcoa Car Parks; acted for TPG Growth on its buyout of Frank Recruitment Group; acted for Vista Equity Partners in the £725m acquisition of Advanced Computer Software Group.
Accenture; BNP Paribas; KKR Credit; Molson Coors Brewing; Montagu Private Equity; Oaktree Capital; Rhône Capital; Summit Partners; Teva Pharmaceuticals; Vitruvian.
A ‘private equity specialist’, Kirkland & Ellis represents ‘some of the biggest and best fund managers in the global private equity industry’, an industry which recruits believe to be ‘very exciting to work in’. The vacation scheme served as a good introduction to the firm, with those who attended telling us of ‘enjoyable work’ within a ‘welcoming atmosphere’. On the training contract there is ‘early responsibility’ in the form of ‘exposure to real work’, and the ‘international transactions’ are considered ‘exciting deals’ to be involved in. A ‘fast learning curve’ is to be expected with experiences including ‘leading negotiations on a crucial point, and winning’ and ‘closing a complicated bespoke fund for a client under time pressure’. The firm’s three Lex 100 Winner awards are for work quality, confidence in being kept on and remuneration satisfaction. Undoubtedly, the major criticism focuses on the ‘long and unpredictable hours’, which can translate into the ‘expectation of 24/7 availability on BlackBerry’. Yet there is a ‘laidback atmosphere’ in the office, and lawyers are free to ‘wear casual dress all day’. Respondents state that being part of a ‘smaller intake’ results in ‘higher exposure to meaningful work’ and the ‘likelihood of quick progression’. This cause is aided by the firm’s ‘commitment to junior lawyers’ who are ‘treated as respected members of the team’. There is a ‘work hard, play hard’ philosophy at Kirkland & Ellis. ‘Meeting clients for closing drinks’ is a chance to unwind, as was the ‘firm-wide dance at the Christmas party’. To work alongside ‘brilliant and dynamic colleagues’ at a firm with an ‘entrepreneurial culture’, apply to Kirkland & Ellis.
A day in the life of...
Yushra Raheem second-year trainee, Kirkland & Ellis
Departments to date: Debt finance, funds, regulatory
University:Queen Mary University
8.50am: On my way to work I check my BlackBerry to sort through any emails that may have come in overnight. Due to the international reach of our deals, we often interact with parties located across multiple jurisdictions and time zones. Due to this, you can sometimes wake up to several emails from counterparties or foreign counsel.
9.20am: I arrive at the Gherkin and head to my desk. I check my emails and reply to any urgent correspondence requiring immediate attention. Having done this, I go to the kitchen to get some breakfast. Kirkland provides free breakfast every day, and the food on offer varies from pastries, to muffins, cereal and fruit.
9.45am: I check through my to-do list, adding anything additional that may have come in overnight, and prioritise my workload. Due to the transactional nature of the work, we often have catch-up meetings with the deal team to discuss ongoing items and priorities for the week. After the team catch-up, I begin drafting documents in relation to a fundraise we are shortly expecting to close, while responding to ongoing correspondence with the client and investors.
11.30am: Having completed that task, I turn next to another deal in its earlier stages. I review a draft of the private placement memorandum and investment advisory agreement, and add in any necessary updates based on correspondence with local counsel and changes to the parties involved, or the deal structure. As a trainee, you are a key part of the deal team and your role will often include tracking a document and/or closing checklist, to reflect updates in the deal and progress towards closing.
1.00pm: I meet some fellow trainees for lunch in our office restaurant on the 22nd floor, which has panoramic views of the City.
1.45pm: I sit in on a call with investors and take notes on the points of negotiation. The smaller trainee intake means that you are often one of two or three juniors on a deal, and are given the opportunity to produce the first draft of most documents. I head back to my desk and begin updating the fund documents to reflect the terms negotiated on the call.
3.30pm: I send my updated draft to the associate on the deal and we discuss any changes needed before sending out to the client for review. I email foreign counsel in various jurisdictions to request their input on the transaction. I sit in on a call and we get an update from the client informing us that the deal is progressing well and that things are likely to accelerate from next week onwards.
4.30pm: I go back to finalising my review of the private placement memorandum, having received further updates from the client and foreign counsel. At Kirkland, you are given a lot of responsibility and autonomy over your workload from an early stage. While this can be daunting, it is an invaluable experience and really enables you to develop your skills. I was responsible for assisting with drafting the ancillary fund documents, first drafts of investor side letters and helping to manage local counsel in the various jurisdictions involved; however, I was supported throughout the deal by my supervisor and the associate also working on the deal.
7.00pm: Having updated the documents in relation to the fundraise, I send a copy to the associate for her comments. I update the closing checklist and circulate to the team, summarising the deal progression for the day and key priorities for tomorrow.
7.45pm: After updating my to-do list for the following day, I head out to dinner with some friends.
About the firm
Address:30 St Mary Axe, London, EC3A 8AF
Telephone: 020 7469 2000
Fax:020 7469 2001
Other offices: Beijing, 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 1,700 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; gym membership; subsidy; life insurance; private healthcare; season ticket loan.
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
Trainee places available for 2019: 10
Applications received pa: 1,000
Percentage interviewed: 6%
First year: £46,000
Second year: £50,000
Newly qualified: $180,000
Total partners: 793
Apply to:Rebecca McEwan, graduate recruitment specialist.
When to Apply:Apply by 14 July 2017 for 2019 contracts.
Apply by 13 January 2017.