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K&L Gates

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K&L Gates LLP
HeadquartersK&L Gates Center
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania[1]
No. of offices45
No. of attorneys1,800 (approx.)[2]
Major practice areasGeneral practice
Key peopleJames Segerdahl (global managing partner), Michael Caccese (chairman, management committee)
RevenueIncrease US$ 990 million (2017)[2]
Date founded1946 (Pittsburgh)
1883 (Seattle)
Company typeLimited Liability Partnership

K&L Gates LLP is an American multinational corporation law firm based in the United States, with international offices in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America.[3] Its namesake firms are Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, a Pittsburgh-based firm founded as Kirkpatrick, Pomeroy, Lockhart & Johnson in 1946, and Preston Gates & Ellis, a Seattle firm founded in 1883 whose prominent partners included William H. Gates Sr., the attorney, philanthropist, and father of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Kirkpatrick & Lockhart merged with Preston Gates in 2007 to form K&L Gates, LLP.

Measured by headcount, it was the 12th largest law firm in the United States in 2018.[4][5] The firm delivers legal services at both an individual office level and through nine broad firmwide practice areas: Corporate and Transactional; Energy, Infrastructure and Resources; Finance; Financial Services; Intellectual Property; Labor, Employment and Workplace Safety; Litigation and Dispute Resolution; Real Estate; and Regulatory and Policy, each of which also include a number of subject matter and industry-based practice groups.[6]

As of March 2017, the leaders of K&L Gates are James Segerdahl (global managing partner) and Michael Caccese (chairman, management committee).[7]


  • 1883: Harold Preston establishes a law office in Seattle, which eventually evolved into the firm Preston Gates & Ellis[8]
  • 1946: Pittsburgh-based Kirkpatrick, Pomeroy, Lockhart & Johnson is founded[9]
  • 2005: Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and Nicholson Graham & Jones (founded 1858)[citation needed] merge to become Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham[10]
  • 2007: On January 1, K&L Gates is formed in a merger between Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham and Preston Gates & Ellis to form Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis.[11] The name was later shortened to K&L Gates.
  • 2008: In January, K&L Gates combined with Hughes & Luce, a Dallas-based firm of 150 attorneys with offices in Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth
  • 2008: In July K&L Gates combined with Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman LLP, a North Carolina-based firm of 200 attorneys with offices in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Research Triangle Park.[12]
  • March 1, 2009: K&L Gates merged with Bell, Boyd & Lloyd, a Chicago-based firm with approximately 215 attorneys with offices in Chicago, San Diego and Washington, D.C.
  • 2013: K&L Gates combined with Australian national firm Middletons with offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane[13]

Ratings and rankings[edit]

U.S. News has given the firm "Tier 1" national ratings in 42 different practice areas, placing it in the top 3 law firms with the most Tier 1 rankings.[14][15] The firm garnered 129 first-tier ratings at the regional/city level across 59 practice groups.[16] Chambers has given the firm a tier 1 national ranking for its Shipping & Maritime Transportation practice, as well as regional tier 1 rankings in: Corporate/Commercial (WA), Environmental (NJ), Bankruptcy and Healthcare (NC), Insurance, Litigation and Corporate (PA).[17]

The firm is ranked #34 in the Top 100 "most prestigious law firms in the country based on the assessments of lawyers at peer firms" by Vault.com.[18]

For three consecutive years (2017–2019) U.S. News has ranked K&L Gates as the top law firm in the U.S. for environmental litigation ("Law Firm of the Year - Environmental Litigation").[19][16] The firm has been named among the "Pacific Northwest Elite" by the website Above the Law, which noted the firm as the "Best Firm for Lobbying Congress in Your Favor".[20]

The firm ranks #41 in the American Lawyer "Global 200" rankings, which ranks firms worldwide by revenue.[4] The legal news site Above the Law ranked the firm number 71 in its 2018 "Power 100" law firm rankings.[21] The Financial Times labeled K&L among the "Most innovative North American law firms 2015: Compliance & technology".[22]

K&L Gates received a 100% rating in the 2018 Corporate Equality Index compiled by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, an LGBT advocacy group.[23] In 2016 the Yale Law Women organization included K&L Gates in the top ten family-friendly law firms.[24] Vault.com has described the firm's “great work-life balance” and "pleasant culture" while also noting a "lack of transparency" at the firm.[25]


In 2012 K&L Gates represented Carnegie Mellon University in a patent suit resulting in a jury verdict awarding $1.17B to the university, one of the largest such verdicts at the time.[26]

In September 2014, K&L Gates founded the "Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project". The project initially involves about fifty K&L lawyers working pro bono to assist about 100 victims of "revenge porn". According to the New York Times, the project is believed to be first of its kind at a major United States law firm.[27] By 2016, the project has aided hundreds of victims and has led to a handful of arrests.[28] In April 2017 the project secured an $8.9 million jury award for a King County couple, reportedly the largest award for non-celebrity targets of "revenge porn" to date.[29][30]

In 2016, K&L Gates awarded a $10 million grant to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to establish the "K&L Gates Endowment for Ethics and Computational Technologies". This new research center is to explore the ethics of artificial intelligence and establish a biennial conference. The firm has provided legal services to CMU for decades; K&L Gates Chairman Emeritus Charles J. Queenan Jr. once chaired CMU's Board of Trustees.[31][32]

In 2017, K&L Gates announced it would create its own blockchain.[33]

Political contributions[edit]

According to OpenSecrets, K&L Gates was one of the law firms contributing the most to federal candidates during the 2012 election cycle, donating $1.09 million, with 52% going to Democratic candidates.[34][35] By comparison, during that same period Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld donated $2.56 million (66% going to Democrats),[34] while oil conglomerate ExxonMobil donated $2.66 million (88% to Republicans).[36] Since the 1990 election cycle, K&L Gates contributed nearly $12.9 million to federal campaigns, and spent $1.25 million on lobbying since 1999.[37]


K&L Gates has faced several lawsuits from former clients, including accusations of breaching fiduciary duties,[38] overbilling,[39] and malpractice.[40]

In January 2020, a worker with anxiety and ADHD sued K&L Gates for disability bias and retaliation after seeking a work-from-home accommodation;[41][42] the suit was later settled out of court.[43] In November 2020, former partner Willie E. Dennis sued the firm alleging that his May 2019 termination was "for complaining about discrimination against Black attorneys and for opposing the sexual harassment of female employees."[44]

Notable lawyers and alumni[edit]

The following attorneys were affiliated with K&L Gates and its immediate predecessor firms, including, e.g., Preston Gates & Ellis; Nicholson Graham & Jones; Kennedy Covington; Hughes & Luce; Bell, Boyd & Lloyd; and Middletons:


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  8. ^ Riggio, Jim. "Former Congressman, Judge James Rogan Joins Orange County Firm". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
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  21. ^ "2018 Power 100 Law Firm Rankings". Above the Law. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
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  24. ^ "These 10 law firms are ranked the most family-friendly". ABA Journal. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  25. ^ "K&L Gates LLP|Company Profile|Vault.com". Vault. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
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  28. ^ "Miami lawyers' project helps online victims of revenge porn". Miami Herald. 28 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
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  30. ^ "How One Woman's Digital Life Was Weaponized Against Her". Wired. 14 November 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  31. ^ Markoff, John (1 November 2016). "New Research Center to Explore Ethics of Artificial Intelligence". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  32. ^ Aupperlee, Aaron (2 November 2016). "K&L Gates gives $10M to CMU to study ethics of AI". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  33. ^ "K&L Gates to implement private blockchain". ABA Journal. 25 October 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
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  35. ^ "K&L Gates Recipients Among Federal Candidates, 2012 Cycle Total: $1,093,069". OpenSecrets. OpenSecrets. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  36. ^ "Energy/Natural Resources: Top Contributors to Federal Candidates, Parties, and Outside Groups". OpenSecrets. OpenSecrets.
  37. ^ "Organizations: K&L Gates". OpenSecrets. OpenSecrets.
  38. ^ "K&L Gates sued by former clients after $3M court loss over real estate joint venture". Lawyerly. 2020-05-01. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  39. ^ "Overbilling suit alleges K&L Gates used these techniques to increase fees". ABA Journal. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  40. ^ Sapino Jeffreys, Brenda (October 20, 2020). "Malpractice Suit Against K&L Gates Heads Back to Texas Trial Court". Texas Lawyer. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  41. ^ McLellan, Lizzy (January 28, 2020). "Ex-Staffer Alleges K&L Gates Refused Accommodations for ADHD, Anxiety". The Legal Intelligencer. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  42. ^ Malfitano, Nicholas. "K&L Gates says it fired data specialist for performance reasons, not his ADHD diagnosis". Pennsylvania Record. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  43. ^ "KRASTMAN v. K&L GATES LLP". www.law360.com. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  44. ^ "K&L Gates Accused of Systemic Race Bias by Black Former Partner". news.bloomberglaw.com. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  45. ^ Perez, Sarah (2019-10-15). "TikTok taps corporate law firm K&L Gates to advise on its US content moderation policies". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  46. ^ "Judge Betty B. Fletcher, a trailblazer for women in law, dies at age 89". The Stanford Daily. 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  47. ^ "Senate confirms J. Nicholas Ranjan as district court judge amid judicial shuffle in Western Pennsylvania". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  48. ^ ABA Journal ABA President to Replace Magowan as Managing Partner of San Francisco Giants
  49. ^ Thornburgh Shares Lessons From Three Mile Island Crisis
  50. ^ "K&L Gates - People - Dick Thornburgh". Archived from the original on 2014-04-05. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  51. ^ "Testimony of Dick Thornburgh, Former Attorney General of the United States, Counsel, K&L Gates LLP" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  52. ^ Eric Schneiderman
  53. ^ Nelson, Robert T. (January 27, 1995). "Democratic Firm Learns To Do Business With New Congress". The Seattle Times.
  54. ^ Postman, David; Bernton, Hal (2006-02-07). "How scheming lobbyist operated in Seattle firm". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
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  56. ^ K&L Gates - People - Michael S. Greco
  57. ^ "Mike Ormsby to retire as Spokane city attorney next month | The Spokesman-Review". www.spokesman.com. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  58. ^ "Obituary | Neal R. Brendel: Lived for challenges as an athlete and a lawyer". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  59. ^ 10 Things You Didn't Know About Rick Santorum
  60. ^ 9 Things You Need to Know About Rick Santorum
  61. ^ Congress is on a health-reform path that will raise premiums
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  64. ^ Lee, Kristen A. (2005-08-24). "Lloyd Meeds, Ex-Congressman, Dies at 77". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-01-19.

External links[edit]