Listed by the Legal 500 as a key partner in Freshfields tier two real estate finance practice, Birks was made up to partner at the Magic Circle firm in 2014.
His practice covers leveraged finance, real estate finance and private equity and he has advised clients such as The Blackstone Group. He will join former Freshfields partner Michael Steele who joined Kirkland in 2015.
In October it emerged Kirkland was taking on corporate partner Doug Bacon from the Magic Circle firm’s New York office. Bacon’s client list includes Novartis, Honeywell International, Blackstone , KKR, TPG, Apax Partners, MSD Capital and First Reserve Corp.
Kirkland private equity partner Matt Elliott said: ‘[Birks] will add significant additional depth to our debt capabilities in real estate private equity, which has grown to become a core practice area of the London office in the past few years.’
Going the other way, Kirkland lost capital markets partner Andrew Hagan to Freshfields, which is steadily building its debt markets team, in February. The hire followed the recruit of high-yield heavyweight Ward McKimm who quit Kirkland to co-head Freshfields European leveraged finance team in London in June 2015.
Freshfields reshuffled its finance practice earlier this year and global finance head David Trott was replaced by Simon Johnson.
The ‘recalibration’ saw leveraged finance split into its own team, giving the department four groups.
Other recent exits from Freshfields finance team include real estate finance partner Jeffrey Rubinoff, who announced his move to White & Case in July this year, and Ian Frost who quit for Vinson & Elkins in February.
Read more on Kirkland’s City practice in: ‘Kiss the ring – patronage, in-fighting and exits threaten to stall Kirkland’s bandwagon’