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Getting on the board: Lucas takes role on Kirkland’s executive committee and top spot in its City office

Following some speculation as to who would become Kirkland & Ellis‘ de facto head in London, finance partner Stephen Lucas has taken up the role and has been appointed to the firm’s executive committee, just one year after joining the firm.

He was voted onto Kirkland’s 15-member global management executive committee last week and will assume the City head role; although the firm does not maintain an official London managing partner title, winning the committee seat usually indicates who will assume the role in an unofficial capacity.

Lucas joined the global top-ten firm in its debt finance practice in May last year from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, after he was brought in on a three-year guarantee worth around $8m a year.

The position became vacant after former de facto London head Graham White left the firm in October last year, to join Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson as its London managing partner and head of private equity in Europe.

Since then, both Lucas and Kirkland’s previous de facto head Jim Learner – who re-joined Kirkland in February 2015 following a two-year stint as managing partner of private equity firm HGGC in California – were understood to be in the running.

Learner’s re-hire followed the exit of Kirkland’s senior partner and European debt finance practice head Stephen Gillespie, who announced in December 2014 that he would leave the firm after nearly nine years to join Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

However, Kirkland made a significant coup this year recruiting two partners from Linklaters, with UK competition chief Paula Riedel joining just last week (1 May), after hiring head of real estate M&A Matthew Elliott, who quit the Magic Circle firm after 17 years in a bid to boost Kirkland’s private equity offering in the real estate sector.

While lateral movement at a firm like Kirkland is considered the norm, in terms of revenues, the firm has continued to perform solidly. Kirkland posted a 6.6% increase in global revenues to $2.15bn last year, an increase from the previous year when turnover rose 4% to $2.02bn, while partner profits were equally strong, surpassing the $3.5m mark, and rising 7% to $3.51m.