Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Kirkland & Ellis International LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Kirkland & Ellis International LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any other? ‘Top-tier clients; industry-leading; most ambitious law firm globally’;‘Kirkland is at the forefront of the London legal market in all aspects of its practice’; ‘I wanted to train at the best and felt there was nowhere better to do so’; ‘the investment of the senior partners in recruitment and developing talent is unparalleled’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Amazing perks – 24/7 concierge service, runners bringing your Deliveroo up to your desk, free breakfast every day and a healthy number of blow-out socials’; ‘the incredible exposure as a trainee to deals at the forefront of the UK, European and global markets’; ‘the ability to drive your career in the direction you want by choosing the type of work you want to do’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Work/life balance’; ‘the hours can be long and unpredictable’; ‘the expectation of being on call all the time’; ‘at times, the workload can be slightly overwhelming, however, you’re thoroughly supported as a trainee and as part of the wider deal team’

Best moment? ‘Closing my first deal after 4.5 months of work on it’; ‘closing a deal with just a mid-level associate. The equity and non-share partner on the deal were both on holiday so left us to run it (with support if needed)’;  ‘attending a client meeting’; ‘running a small financing on my own with light touch supervision from an associate’

Worst moment? ‘Multiple 100+ hour weeks’; ‘cancelling plans because of weekend work’; ‘making a minor error in the compiling of executed documents’; ‘there have been occasions in the period before deals signing or closing where I’ve worked consistently long and intensive hours’

 

The Lex 100 verdict on Kirkland & Ellis International LLP

The firm: Kirkland & Ellis is a global law firm specialising in advising on private equity M&A and financing transactions, fund formation, litigation and restructuring. The firm is pre-eminent in those areas globally across its 15 offices in the US, Europe and Asia. The firm has developed its leading position by focusing on empowering its lawyers with accelerated career paths to partnership, rewarding dedication, focus and teamwork and allowing its lawyers to be entrepreunerial and client facing at all stages in their careers.

The deals: Advising the bidding consortium led by Advent, Cinven and the RAG-Stiftung on the €17.2bn acquisition of the elevator division of thyssenkrupp AG, the largest European buyout since 2008; advising Debenhams on a series of market firsts – first major contested CVA in current cycle, first ‘light touch’ administration in the current cycle and first Court of Appeal case on furloughing employees; advising EQT-led consortium on the CHF10.2bn acquisition of Galderma (formally Nestlé Skin Health) – awarded Deal of the Year 2019 by Mergermarket; advising the Blackstone consortium on the £4.77bn public private of Merlin Entertainment, owner of Legoland; advising GLP on the $18.7bn sale of its US logistics platform to Blackstone – the largest real estate deal ever completed.

The clients: Advent; Apax; Bain Capital Private Equity; BC Partners; Blackstone; Brookfield; EQT; GIC; Partners Group; Warburg Pincus.

The verdict

Powerful American private equity market leader, Kirkland & Ellis International has a superb training record and continues to make a name for itself in the UK market. A trainee highlights that ‘Kirkland is at the forefront of the London legal market in all aspects of its practice. I wanted to train at the best and felt there was nowhere better to do so.’ It is a Lex 100 Winner in the following categories: overall job satisfaction, quality of work, vacation scheme, confidence in being retained after completion of training contract, and approachability of partners and supervisors. Known for its private equity excellence, trainees comment on the working hours being long, with ‘multiple 100-plus hour weeks’ recorded and the pressure high. One trainee adds that ‘the level of responsibility and expectation on you is much higher at Kirkland. While there is less formal training compared to the Magic Circle firms, you learn through the depth of exposure that is given on deals’. Trainees love the ‘amazing perks’ such as ’24/7 concierge service, runners bringing your Deliveroo up to your desk, free breakfast every day and a healthy number of blow-out socials’. One trainee adds that she ‘loved the energy that the people in the firm possessed. There was a deep sense of pride about the work that they did. Everyone was friendly, driven and ambitious’. With a market-leading reputation and ‘incredible exposure as a trainee to deals at the forefront of the UK, European and global markets,’ Kirkland offers excellent opportunities.

A day in the life of… Lucy Mahon, second-seat trainee, Kirkland & Ellis International LLP

Lucy Mahon, Kirkland & Ellis International LLP

Departments to date: Investment Funds, Debt Finance

University: Cambridge

Degree: Law, 2(1)

7.45am: I wake up and check through any emails I have received overnight. The nature of private equity transactions means that there is an international dimension to every deal we work on. As a result, colleagues and local counsel in different time zones will contact me with requests in the early hours. Luckily the home set-up that Kirkland provides to trainees means that I can easily keep on top of my workload remotely.

8.00am: It is a nice day so I decide to go for a run. Kirkland promotes health and wellbeing at all stages of our career, and regularly organises charity walks, cycles and runs. I was also recently part of a team who raised money for a legal aid charity by participating in the 10,000 Steps for Justice walk.

9.15am: I like to start my working day a little early so that I have time to write a to-do list and check my calendar for the week. The trainees at Kirkland are given a lot of responsibility to manage transactions independently, regularly contacting clients and liaising with local counsel directly. Today, I am handling the KYC (know your customer) requirements in relation to a group of subsidiary companies that will be acceding to existing finance and security documents.

10.00am: With the day underway I check-in with the other trainees; each day we set up a group on the firm’s internal messaging service. Having studied the LPC together, we are all good friends and it is great working in such a collaborative environment.

10.15am: A junior associate requests my assistance on a bid. Having discussed my capacity with my supervisor, I let her know that I am enthusiastic to help. As part of this process, I will be drafting the interim conditions precedent to an interim facilities agreement. Drafting tasks like this are interesting because they require careful reading of the finance documents and give a flavour for the deal as a whole.

11.00am: There is a weekly catch-up meeting attended by the whole debt finance team. A partner provides an update on recent regulatory changes that affect the debt finance practice.

12.30pm: I take my lunch break in the sun and catch up with a few of the other trainees.

1.15pm: I catch up with my supervisor who keeps an eye on my workload and ensures that I am receiving a variety of complex work. Supervisors at Kirkland are typically partners or senior associates. As I have some free time, my supervisor runs through a section of a senior facilities agreement with me to explain the rationale behind certain provisions.

3.00pm: I have a conference call with several associates to discuss a closing that is scheduled to take place this week. We run through the documents checklist and discuss timing and priority. The associates are more than happy to answer any questions I have on the documents checklist and the closing process. Following the call, I prepare signature packs, signing instructions and a signing checklist. The associate double-checks these documents, after which I send them out to the client.

5.30pm: My supervisor runs through the amendment and extension request that I drafted earlier. She marks up my work in tracked changes so that I can see any amendments she has made, and we discuss the reasons for them.

6.15pm: I chase local counsel for the outstanding constitutional documents and update the documents checklist prepared for the accessions. This involves me reviewing the emails that have come in during the day and seeking clarification on the status of certain documents from the deal team. I then enter my time worked for the day.

7.00pm: Once I’ve checked in with the individuals I work with and made sure there is nothing else I can help with, I log off and meet up with a friend for dinner in the local area.

About the firm

Other offices: Beijing, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, Palo Alto, Paris, San Francisco, Shanghai, Washington, DC.

Who we are: We are a leading global law firm that is focused on meritocracy and enabling our lawyers to become leading partners as early as possible in their careers. We encourage all of our lawyers to accelerate their growth by advising on complex transactions and being client facing and business focused.

What we do: We advise global clients including holders of private capital on their M&A and financing transactions, investment fund formations, restructuring and litigation matters.

What we’re looking for: We hire trainees who are hardworking, motivated, and focused on gaining as much experience as possible and want to become partners on an accelerated career path.

What you’ll do: Our trainees gain experience through active involvement in deals throughout their careers together with extensive technical training.

Perks: Benefits include private medical insurance, travel insurance, complimentary breakfast, bonus scheme, employee assistance plan, corporate gym membership, cycle to work scheme and season ticket loan.

Sponsorship: Kirkland covers the costs of both GDL and LPC fees, as well as providing a maintenance payment of £10,000.

Diversity and inclusion

As a firm with a global presence, we embrace and promote diversity and inclusion, both within our own organisation and throughout the legal profession. We are proud of our employees’ rich and varied backgrounds, knowledge and skills, which make us stronger as a firm.

Diversity and inclusion at Kirkland transcend race, gender, gender identity, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, country of origin and political affiliation. We value and encourage diversity with respect to each individual’s work style, career path, and professional and life experiences. We continually strive to build and maintain a culture that values and gathers strength from our differences.

To achieve this goal, a dedicated and active group of partners leads our firmwide diversity and inclusion committee. The committee has racial and ethnic diversity, gender and LGBTQ+ subcommittees to ensure that our programmes and policies address the needs of all attorneys.

For more information please visit https://ukgraduate.kirkland.com/our-culture/.