Kirkland & Ellis
|No. of offices||18 (2021)|
|No. of attorneys||2,725 (2021)|
|No. of employees||5,721 (2021)|
|Key people||Jon A. Ballis, chairman, global management executive committee|
|Revenue||US$4.83 billion (2020) |
|Founder||Robert R. McCormick|
|Company type||Limited liability partnership|
Kirkland & Ellis LLP is an American law firm. Founded in 1909 in Chicago, Illinois, Kirkland & Ellis is the largest law firm in the world by revenue and the seventh-largest by number of attorneys, and was the first law firm in the world to reach US$4 billion in revenue. As of 2021, Kirkland & Ellis ranks third on Am Law's list of profits per equity partner. While Kirkland & Ellis 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.
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.
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. Kirkland & Ellis has 15 offices in four countries.
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." The firm earned just under $5 billion in revenue in 2020. The increase came from heightened demand, induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American Lawyer ranked Kirkland & Ellis as the 2018 Law Firm of the Year. "Mergers & Acquisitions" ranked Kirkland & Ellis 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. As of 2021, Am Law lists Kirkland & Ellis as the largest law firm in the United States by gross revenue and third greatest in profits per equity partner. Kirkland & Ellis was ranked second in the 2017 ATL Power 100 law firm rankings. Vault ranked Kirkland & Ellis 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.
Notable clients and cases
- Brown & Williamson, a tobacco company. In 1995, Kirkland & Ellis made legal threats against CBS to prevent it from airing a 60 Minutes interview with tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand.
- Bristol-Myers Squibb in its US$90 billion acquisition of Celgene, the largest biopharmaceutical deal in history by terms of transaction value
- AbbVie in its US$63 billion acquisition of Allergan, which received the New York 2020 Healthcare, Pharma & Biotech Deal of the Year award by the Deal (magazine).
- GLP (company) in its sale of U.S. Logistics Business to Blackstone for US$18.7 billion, the largest ever private real estate transaction globally in terms of trade value
- BP in relation to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill; secured a summary judgment ruling in favor of BP that it had no duty to report the Deepwater Horizon oil spill under the U.S. Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
- Volkswagen in relation to the Volkswagen emissions scandal
- General Motors in relation to the General Motors ignition switch scandal
- Defended Nike, Inc. against trademark infringement claims regarding the Jumpman logo
- AbbVie Inc., pharmaceutical company spun-off from Abbott Laboratories in 2013, in a royalty dispute with MedImmune; won a $93.8 million jury award
- MedTronic in a patent suit won against Atlas IP, LLC
- Miller UK Ltd., acquired a $73.6 million trade secrets misappropriation jury award against Caterpillar Inc.
- Jeffrey Epstein in a case of sex-trafficking with minors, resulting in a reduced charge plea bargain with limited penalties, which later garnered "accusations that the lenient sentence enabled Epstein to continue his abuse." Evaded legal obligation to notify victims of the plea bargain, thereby violating victims rights under the CVRA, by holding secret meetings with Alex Acosta's staff in the Marriott hotel
- Toys R Us restructuring
- A group of major investors in the international fish meal industry, in connection with their claims against China Fishery
- Cariol Horne 2020 action for reinstatement to the Buffalo Police Department, having been fired in 2008 for intervening in an arrest that she perceived as being potentially lethal
- Represented separated families, asylum seekers and other migrants, and nationwide class of immigrant teens held in ICE detention centers, in opposition to Trump administration family separation policy.
- Represented four Maryland historically Black colleges and universities in civil rights case alleging discrimination and underfunding by Maryland.
- Kirkland and Ellis represented Boeing in relation to the Boeing 737 MAX disaster. Controversially, the U.S. Attorney in the case, Erin Nealy Cox, let Boeing executives off the hook for their role in the disaster in the prosecution agreement signed by her and Kirkland and Ellis. She was subsequently made a partner at Kirkland and Ellis.
Notable attorneys and alumni
Notable alumni of the firm include, among others, more than two dozen attorneys who resigned when appointed to roles in government. Alumni include:
- Alexander Acosta – former Secretary of Labor under President Donald Trump
- Alex Azar – Secretary of Health and Human Services
- William Barr – 85th United States Attorney General under President Donald Trump and former 77th United States Attorney General under President George H. W. Bush
- John Bolton – former National Security Advisor under President Donald Trump
- Robert Bork – former Judge of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and former Solicitor General under President Richard Nixon
- Daniel Bress – Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- Rubén Castillo – former United States District Judge for United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- Pat Cipollone – White House Counsel under President Donald Trump
- Jeffrey Clark – United States Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division under President Donald Trump; acting head of the Civil Division under President Donald Trump. Clark aided Trump in his unsuccessful efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
- Paul Clement – former Solicitor General under President George W. Bush
- Viet D. Dinh – Chief Legal Officer at 21st Century Fox, former Assistant Attorney General under President George W. Bush and chief architect of the USA PATRIOT Act
- John C. Eastman – former professor at Chapman University School of Law and advisor to President Donald Trump
- Neil Eggleston – former White House Counsel under President Barack Obama
- Mark Filip – former Judge of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and former Deputy Attorney General under President George W. Bush
- Brett Kavanaugh – Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
- Robert Khuzami – Deputy United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, former Director of the Division of Enforcement of the Securities and Exchange Commission and former General Counsel of Deutsche Bank
- Raja Krishnamoorthi – U.S. Representative from Illinois's 8th congressional district
- Christopher Landau - former US Ambassador to Mexico under President Donald Trump
- Jay Lefkowitz – former Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea and Director of Cabinet Affairs under President George W. Bush
- Lisa Madigan – former Illinois Attorney General from 2003 to 2019
- Sean Patrick Maloney – U.S. Representative from New York's 18th congressional district
- Dallin H. Oaks – First Counselor of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Jeffrey A. Rosen – Deputy Secretary of Transportation and Deputy Attorney General and acting United States Attorney General under President Donald Trump
- Nathan Sales – Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Acting Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
- Mikie Sherrill – U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 11th congressional district
- Ken Starr – Whitewater special prosecutor and former Solicitor General under President George H. W. Bush
- Jeff Wall – Principal Deputy Solicitor General under President Donald Trump and former acting Solicitor General
- Ali Zaidi – first deputy White House National Climate Advisor in U.S. history (under President Joe Biden)
The firm has endowed professorships in its name at four law schools: Harvard Law School, Northwestern University School of Law, University of Michigan Law School, and the University of Chicago Law School.
- Sloan, Karen (October 1, 2021). "Kirkland & Ellis partner class hits highs after lucrative year". Reuters. Retrieved November 3, 2021.
- "Kirkland & Ellis LLP". Law.com. Retrieved October 5, 2021.
- "Kirkland & Ellis Company Profile". Craft.co. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
- "Kirkland & Ellis names new chairman". Crain's Chicago Business. December 10, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- "Kirkland & Ellis LLP". Law.com. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
- "Kirkland's Reign Continues as Firm Hits $4 Billion in Revenue". Law.com. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
- "Wake Up Call: In Pre-Covid 2019, Kirkland Topped $4 Billion Revenues". news.bloomberglaw.com.
- "Against All Odds, The Am Law 100 Were Stunningly Successful in 2020". Retrieved September 4, 2021.
- "How a private equity boom fuelled the world's biggest law firm". www.ft.com.
- "Robert R. McCormick Biography", First Division Museum. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
- Johnston, David Cay (January 17, 2001). "H. E. Chaffetz, 93, Lawyer On Antitrust and Price Fixing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
- "Kirkland & Ellis". Forbes. November 23, 2020. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
- "Wall Street 'Nightmare' Alive as Kirkland Poaches From Wachtell". news.bloomberglaw.com. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- Stewart, James B. (April 26, 2018). "$11 Million a Year for a Law Partner? Bidding War Grows at Top-Tier Firms". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- Beioley, Kate; Massoudi, Arash. "Kirkland & Ellis revenue set to surge to $5bn on private equity deals". Financial Times. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
- Seal, Ben (December 5, 2018). "Kirkland & Ellis Named Law Firm of the Year at American Lawyer Industry Awards". The American Lawyer. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- Seal, Ben (April 2, 2020). "Kirkland & Ellis wins Law Firm of the Year for closing 400 U.S. PE deals". The Middle Market. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
- 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 December 13, 2016.
- "Kirkland & Ellis LLP". Vault. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
- Janofsky, Michael (August 16, 2005). "U.S. tobacco firms heading back to court (Published 2005)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
- Crotty, William J. (August 6, 2001). The State of Democracy in America. Georgetown University Press. p. 208. ISBN 978-1-58901-468-8.
- Munk, Nina (October 13, 2009). Fools Rush In: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Unmaking of AOL Time Warner. Zondervan. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-06-174374-0.
- Erman, Michael; Banerjee, Ankur (January 3, 2019). "Bristol-Myers to buy Celgene for $74 billion in largest biopharma deal". Reuters.
- Tribe, Meghan (June 25, 2019). "Kirkland, Wachtell Advise On AbbVie's $63B Merger With Allergan". Bloomberg.
- "The Deal Awards New York 2020 Winners". Reuters. January 3, 2019.
- Daga, Anshuman; Contractor, Sabahatjahan (June 3, 2019). "Blackstone in record $18.7 billion deal to buy U.S. warehouse assets from GLP". Reuters.
- 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.
- Ruddick, Graham (September 23, 2015). "Volkswagen hires BP oil spill lawyers to defend emissions cases". The Guardian. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- "Litigation Powerhouse: Kirkland & Ellis LLP". Law360. July 29, 2016. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
- "Litigation Powerhouse: Kirkland & Ellis LLP". Law360. July 29, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- Raymond, Adam K. (July 16, 2019). "Lawyer: Epstein's Abuse Continued While He Was on Work Release From Jail". Intelligencer.
- Doe v. United States of America, 411 F. Supp. 3d 3121 (S.D. Fl. 2019).
- 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.
- Stokes, Samantha (June 10, 2019). "Kirkland Secures $56M in Fees for Toys R Us Bankruptcy". The American Lawyer. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- Langner, Christopher; Tu, Lianting (November 26, 2015). "China Fishery Bonds Plunge as HSBC Seeks to Wind Up Company". Bloomberg. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
- 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.
- Kanno-Youngs, Zolan (April 23, 2020). "As Coronavirus Threatens, Teenage Migrants 'Age Out' Into ICE Jails Those initially detained by the government's Office of Refugee Resettlement are being held until their 18th birthday, then transferred to ICE custody". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
- Moore, Robert (May 29, 2019). "'He Started Calling Me Papa Again': A Separated Migrant Father and Son Reunite After 378 Days Apart". Texas Monthly. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
- Witte, Brian (March 17, 2021). "Maryland lawmakers approve $577M to settle HBCU lawsuit". Associated Press. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
- Douglas-Gabriel, Danielle; Wiggins, Ovetta (March 24, 2021). "Hogan signs off on $577 million for Maryland's historically Black colleges and universities". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
- "Boeing's former chief technical pilot on 737 MAX indicted on fraud charges". The Seattle Times. October 14, 2021. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
- "Kirkland & Ellis LLP", ProPublica. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
- Salam, Maya (April 27, 2017). "Senate Confirms R. Alexander Acosta as Labor Secretary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
- "Secretary of Health and Human Services: Who Is Alex Azar?". AllGov. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- Johnston, David (November 21, 1991). "Barr Is Confirmed on Voice Vote As 77th Attorney General of U.S." The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
- "Trump Chooses Bolton for 3rd Security Adviser as Shake-Up Continues". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
- "Kirkland & Ellis Fondly Remembers Former Partner Robert Bork | News | Kirkland & Ellis LLP". www.kirkland.com. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- "Bress confirmation" (PDF). Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- Murphy, H. Lee. "Ruben Castillo Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved May 13, 2021.
- Farias, Cristian (October 17, 2018). "With Legal Storm Looming, Pat Cipollone May Be Perfect for White House Counsel". Intelligencer. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- "President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administration". whitehouse.gov (Press release). June 6, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017 – via National Archives.
- Benner, Katie (January 23, 2021). "Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General". The New York Times.
- Benner, Katie (October 7, 2021). "Report Cites New Details of Trump Pressure on Justice Dept. Over Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
- "Solicitor General: Paul D. Clement". www.justice.gov. October 23, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
- Flint, Joe (September 17, 2018). "Viet Dinh to Become Chief Legal Officer of the New Fox". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
- Palazzolo, Joe (September 12, 2016). "Kirkland & Ellis to Absorb Bancroft". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
- "Chief Architect of Patriot Act to Quit". Los Angeles Times. May 14, 2003. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
- "Controversial law professor John Eastman retires from Chapman University". Orange County Register. January 14, 2021. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
- "Claremont Institute | Recovering the American Idea". www.claremont.org. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
- "Mark Filip, P.C. | Lawyers | Kirkland & Ellis LLP". www.kirkland.com. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- "Brett Kavanaugh Is a Mensch". August 29, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- "Ex-S.E.C. Official, Robert Khuzami, Joins Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office". Retrieved October 2, 2018.
- "Deutsche Bank Appoints Robert Khuzami General Counsel for The Americas". www.businesswire.com. January 13, 2004. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
- Petrella, Dan (September 11, 2019). "Former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joining law firm Kirkland & Ellis as litigation partner". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
- "U.S. Ambassador to Mexico - Christopher Landau". U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico. August 16, 2019. Retrieved April 14, 2021.
- "Lefkowitz, Jay". 2001-2009.state.gov. Department Of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Electronic Information. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- Sfondeles, Tina (September 11, 2019). "Former AG Lisa Madigan joins Kirkland & Ellis". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
- Petrella, Dan (September 11, 2019). "Former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joining law firm Kirkland & Ellis as litigation partner". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
- Paybarah, Azi (December 9, 2008). "Spitzer Aide to Join Spitzer Prosecutor at Kirkland & Ellis". Observer. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
- "President Dallin H. Oaks". www.churchofjesuschrist.org. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
- "U.S. Senate confirms Jeffrey Rosen as No. 2 Justice Department official". Reuters. May 17, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
- Perez, Evan. "Trump's acting attorney general leaves without creating controversial special counsels". CNN. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
- "Nathan A. Sales". United States Department of State. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
- "2007 New York, Summer Associates: Rebecca Sherrill" (PDF). Kirkland & Ellis. 2007.
- "John Bolton joins Ken Starr at Kirkland & Ellis". Retrieved January 22, 2020.
- Bravin, Jess (December 2, 2019). "Supreme Court Appears Unlikely to Expand Gun Rights in New York Case". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
- Bogardus, Kevin; Cama, Timothy (March 22, 2021). "White HOuse: Biden's climate deputy has fossil fuel ties". www.eenews.net. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
- "Klarman, taking Kirkland & Ellis Chair, examines 'Racial Equality in American History' (video) – Harvard Law Today". Harvard Law Today. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
- "Permanent". northwestern.edu. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
- "Chicago firm endows Law School professorship". umich.edu. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
- "Clark, Sherman J. – University of Michigan Law School". umich.edu. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
- "Eric Posner". uchicago.edu. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
- Stewart, James (1983). The Partners: Inside America's Most Powerful Law Firms. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-42023-2.