Kirkland & Ellis

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Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Kirkland & Ellis
No. of offices15
No. of attorneys2,300[1]
Key peopleJon A. Ballis, P.C.,[2] chairman, global management executive committee
RevenueUS$5.0 billion (2020),[3]
Date founded1909; 112 years ago (1909)
Company typeLimited liability partnership

Kirkland & Ellis LLP is an American law firm. Founded in 1909 in Chicago, Illinois, Kirkland is the largest law firm in the world by revenue, the seventh-largest by number of attorneys,[1] and is the first law firm in the world to reach US$4 billion in revenue.[4] Kirkland also ranks second-highest globally in profits per equity partner, and is the highest among firms with a global presence.[5] While Kirkland was historically considered a firm focused on litigation, during the 2010s, it expanded private equity and restructuring practices which, together with large-scale commercial litigation, comprise the core legal service areas of the firm.[6]

Kirkland has represented many prominent and controversial clients, such as BP (in relation to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill), Jeffrey Epstein, and Bain Capital. Prominent attorneys of the firm have included numerous conservatives and Republican administration officials, including United States Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; former appellate court judge Robert Bork; Clinton-era Special Counsel Ken Starr; and various Trump administration officials, including former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, former Attorney General William Barr, former Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

Chicago office at 300 North LaSalle


London office at 30 St Mary Axe, popularly known as the Gherkin

In 1909, two attorneys, Stuart G. Shepard and Robert R. McCormick, formed the Chicago-based partnership that would eventually become Kirkland & Ellis. McCormick was the grandson of Joseph Medill, who had founded the Chicago Tribune. McCormick became president of the Tribune Company in 1914 and, in 1925, sole publisher of the Tribune.[7]

Weymouth Kirkland and his associate Howard Ellis joined the firm in 1915. Kirkland served as chief counsel to the Tribune and other newspapers in various free speech and defamation cases, including Near v. Minnesota. In 1938, Kirkland and Ellis hired young trial lawyer Hammond Chaffetz from the U.S. Department of Justice. Chaffetz spent six decades with the firm, during which it grew to about 780 lawyers, making it one of the 30 largest in the country.[8] Kirkland & Ellis has 15 offices in four countries.[9]

New York office at 601 Lexington Avenue

According to a 2016 study, which evaluated the political ideology of the top 20 American law firms, Kirkland & Ellis was among the most conservative.[10]

In 2020, "Kirkland, along with some other out-of-town firms like Sidley Austin and Latham & Watkins," have been reported in media as using "aggressive lateral recruiting to draw from New York’s dealmaking talent pool."[11][12] The firm earned $5 billion in revenue in 2020. The increase came from heightened demand, induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.[13]


The American Lawyer ranked Kirkland & Ellis as the 2018 Law Firm of the Year.[14] "Mergers & Acquisitions" ranked Kirkland as the 2019 Law Firm of the Year for advising on 400 U.S. based-deals (more than twice that of the firm ranked second), and for advising on the largest number of global deals, in each case, in 2019.[15] As of 2020, Kirkland is the largest law firm in the U.S. by gross revenue, with US$4.16 billion in revenue, and an estimated profit per equity partner of US$5.20 million.[5] Kirkland was ranked second in the 2017 ATL Power 100 law firm rankings.[16] Vault ranked Kirkland as the most prestigious firm in Chicago and the number-one firm in the U.S. for private equity, restructuring and business outlook in 2018.[17]

Notable clients and cases[edit]

Notable attorneys and alumni[edit]

Notable alumni of the firm includes, among others, more than two dozen attorneys who resigned when appointed to roles in government.[35] Alumni includes:

Endowed professorships[edit]

The firm has endowed professorships in its name at four law schools: Harvard Law School,[63] Northwestern University School of Law,[64] University of Michigan Law School,[65][66] and University of Chicago Law School.[67]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Kirkland's Reign Continues as Firm Hits $4 Billion in Revenue". Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Kirkland & Ellis names new chairman". Crain's Chicago Business. Dec 10, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  3. ^ "Kirkland & Ellis revenue set to surge to $5bn on private equity deals". Financial Times. January 31, 2021. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  4. ^ "Wake Up Call: In Pre-Covid 2019, Kirkland Topped $4 Billion Revenues".
  5. ^ a b Link, Lateral. "Breaking Down The 2020 Am Law 100 Rankings".
  6. ^ "Subscribe to read | Financial Times". Cite uses generic title (help)
  7. ^ "Robert R. McCormick Biography", First Division Museum. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  8. ^ Johnston, David Cay (2001-01-17). "H. E. Chaffetz, 93, Lawyer On Antitrust and Price Fixing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-12-12.
  9. ^ "Kirkland & Ellis". Forbes. November 23, 2020. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  10. ^ Sen, Maya; Chilton, Adam S.; Bonica, Adam (2016-12-01). "The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers". Journal of Legal Analysis. 8 (2): 277–335. doi:10.1093/jla/lav011. ISSN 2161-7201.
  11. ^ "Wall Street 'Nightmare' Alive as Kirkland Poaches From Wachtell". Retrieved 2020-07-14.
  12. ^ Stewart, James B. (2018-04-26). "$11 Million a Year for a Law Partner? Bidding War Grows at Top-Tier Firms". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-14.
  13. ^ Beioley, Kate; Massoudi, Arash. "Kirkland & Ellis revenue set to surge to $5bn on private equity deals". Financial Times. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  14. ^ December 05, Ben Seal; PM, 2018 at 11:30. "Kirkland & Ellis Named Law Firm of the Year at American Lawyer Industry Awards". The American Lawyer. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  15. ^ December 05, Ben Seal; PM, 2018 at 11:30. "Kirkland & Ellis wins Law Firm of the Year for closing 400 U.S. PE deals". The Middle Market. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  16. ^ Shepherd, David Lat, Elie Mystal, Staci Zaretsky, Kashmir Hill, Marin, Mark Herrmann, Jay. "The ATL 2017 Power 100 Law Firm Rankings". Above the Law. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  17. ^ "Kirkland & Ellis LLP". Vault. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  18. ^ Janofsky, Michael (2005-08-16). "U.S. tobacco firms heading back to court (Published 2005)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  19. ^ Crotty, William J. (2001-08-06). The State of Democracy in America. Georgetown University Press. p. 208. ISBN 978-1-58901-468-8.
  20. ^ Munk, Nina (2009-10-13). Fools Rush In: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Unmaking of AOL Time Warner. Zondervan. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-06-174374-0.
  21. ^ Erman, Michael; Banerjee, Ankur (January 3, 2019). "Bristol-Myers to buy Celgene for $74 billion in largest biopharma deal". Reuters.
  22. ^ Tribe, Meghan (June 25, 2019). Bloomberg Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ Reuters. January 3, 2019 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ Daga, Anshuman; Contractor, Sabahatjahan (June 3, 2019). "Blackstone in record $18.7 billion deal to buy U.S. warehouse assets from GLP". Reuters.
  25. ^ Thompson, Richard (February 22, 2013). "Meet the lead attorneys involved in the BP oil spill trial". The Times-Picayune. Archived from the original on February 26, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  26. ^ Ruddick, Graham (September 23, 2015). "Volkswagen hires BP oil spill lawyers to defend emissions cases". The Guardian. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  27. ^ a b c d "Litigation Powerhouse: Kirkland & Ellis LLP". Law360. July 29, 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-12.
  28. ^ "Litigation Powerhouse: Kirkland & Ellis LLP". Law360. July 29, 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  29. ^ Raymond, Adam K. (July 16, 2019). "Lawyer: Epstein's Abuse Continued While He Was on Work Release From Jail". Intelligencer.
  30. ^ Doe v. United States of America, 411 F. Supp. 3d 3121 (S.D. Fl. 2019).
  31. ^ Brown, Julie K. (November 28, 2018). "How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime". Miami Herald. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  32. ^ Stokes, Samantha (June 10, 2019). "Kirkland Secures $56M in Fees for Toys R Us Bankruptcy". The American Lawyer. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  33. ^ Langner, Christopher; Tu, Lianting (2015-11-26). "China Fishery Bonds Plunge as HSBC Seeks to Wind Up Company". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  34. ^ Sweeney, Annie (October 26, 2020). "Fired Buffalo police officer who contends she stopped another cop from choking a man finds new support — in Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  35. ^ "Kirkland & Ellis LLP", ProPublica. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  36. ^ a b "Brett Kavanaugh Is a Mensch". Aug 29, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  37. ^ a b Farias, Cristian (October 17, 2018). "With Legal Storm Looming, Pat Cipollone May Be Perfect for White House Counsel". Intelligencer. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  38. ^ "Bress confirmation" (PDF). Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  39. ^ "Kirkland & Ellis Fondly Remembers Former Partner Robert Bork | News | Kirkland & Ellis LLP". Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  40. ^ Bravin, Jess. "Supreme Court Appears Unlikely to Expand Gun Rights in New York Case". WSJ. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  41. ^ "Solicitor General: Paul D. Clement". 2014-10-23. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  42. ^ "John Bolton joins Ken Starr at Kirkland & Ellis". Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  43. ^ Johnston, David (1991-11-21). "Barr Is Confirmed on Voice Vote As 77th Attorney General of U.S." The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-05.
  44. ^ "Secretary of Health and Human Services: Who Is Alex Azar?". AllGov. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  45. ^ Salam, Maya (2017-04-27). "Senate Confirms R. Alexander Acosta as Labor Secretary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  46. ^ "Trump Chooses Bolton for 3rd Security Adviser as Shake-Up Continues". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  47. ^ "U.S. Senate confirms Jeffrey Rosen as No. 2 Justice Department official". Reuters. 2019-05-17. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  48. ^ Correspondent, Evan Perez, CNN Justice. "Trump's acting attorney general leaves without creating controversial special counsels". CNN. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  49. ^ "Nathan A. Sales". United States Department of State. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  50. ^ "Mark Filip, P.C. | Lawyers | Kirkland & Ellis LLP". Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  51. ^ Flint, Joe (2018-09-17). "Viet Dinh to Become Chief Legal Officer of the New Fox". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  52. ^ Palazzolo, Joe (2016-09-12). "Kirkland & Ellis to Absorb Bancroft". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  53. ^ "Chief Architect of Patriot Act to Quit". Los Angeles Times. 2003-05-14. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  54. ^ "Ex-S.E.C. Official, Robert Khuzami, Joins Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office". Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  55. ^ "Deutsche Bank Appoints Robert Khuzami General Counsel for The Americas". 2004-01-13. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  56. ^ Department Of State. The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs. "Lefkowitz, Jay". Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  57. ^ "President Dallin H. Oaks". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  58. ^ "2007 New York, Summer Associates: Rebecca Sherrill" (PDF). Kirkland & Ellis. 2007.
  59. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administration" (Press release). The White House. June 6, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  60. ^ Benner, Katie (January 23, 2021). "Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General" – via
  61. ^ "Controversial law professor John Eastman retires from Chapman University". Orange County Register. 2021-01-14. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  62. ^ "Claremont Institute | Recovering the American Idea". Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  63. ^ "Klarman, taking Kirkland & Ellis Chair, examines 'Racial Equality in American History' (video) – Harvard Law Today". Harvard Law Today. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  64. ^ "Permanent". Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  65. ^ "Chicago firm endows Law School professorship". Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  66. ^ "Clark, Sherman J. – University of Michigan Law School". Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  67. ^ "Eric Posner". Retrieved 23 September 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]