With the boldness the market has come to expect from the world’s highest-grossing law firm, Kirkland & Ellis has again broken its own partnership promotion record, making up 151 globally and 19 in London.
As with last year when the Chicago-bred giant outpaced itself with 145 global promotions and 16 in the City, the move continues an ascent that shows no signs of being thwarted by coronavirus concerns or any other.
In London, four new partners have been added in M&A/private equity: Henry Birch; Nick-Raj Birdi; James Hunn and Cillian Moynihan, while three have been promoted in debt finance – Stefan Arnold-Soulby; Kanesh Balasubramaniam and James Collins.
Restructuring has seen three partner promotions in Ian Clarke, Hannah Crawford and Kai Zeng and investment funds has two new partners – Agne Eriksson and Katerina Syomina.
Antitrust and competition has added two in the form of Philipp Gnatzy and Athina Van Melkebeke with financial services regulatory partner Zach Milloy also making the grade, along with technology and IP transactions lawyer John Patten, IP transactions lawyer Peter Pereira, tax lawyer Art Ward and capital markets attorney Samita T. Ali-Khan.
Perhaps the most pressing matter on the minds of law firm leaders is the thorny issue of talent retention in a post-pandemic market where careers are more fluid than ever.
However, the now 2,900-lawyer firm has an unusual model in that it makes up large ranks of salaried partners before considering promotions to its tightly-held equity. Operating a fast track, associates can make salaried partner six years after qualification – bucking the wider trend of pushing back promotions on a less clear career track.
The rest of Kirkland’s new partners have been made up in the firm’s global offices spanning Austin, the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, Paris and Washington DC.
The promotions coincided with Kirkland’s announcement that it has hired Linklaters partner Julia Dixon to its financial services regulatory practice in London.
In April, Kirkland said it had added $680m to its top line to beat Latham & Watkins yet again to remain the world’s highest-grossing law firm, as global turnover surged 16% to $4.83bn.
Profit per equity partner (PEP) hit $6.2m, up 19% on the $5.2m for 2019 even as Kirkland’s headcount grew 5% in 2020 to 2,725 lawyers. Revenue per lawyer increased 11% from $1.6m to around $1.8m.
The firm does not disclose regional breakdowns but London was believed to have substantially outpaced global growth at around 29%, growing revenue from $425m to roughly $550m.