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One in, one out: Deal star Johnson to exit Kirkland as Membrillera joins from Paul Weiss

Roger Johnson, among the first wave private equity stars to defect to Kirkland & Ellis from the Magic Circle, has left the Chicago powerhouse’s London office.

The move was quickly followed by news that Kirkland has hired the well-respected private equity partner Alvaro Membrillera from Paul Weiss in the City, where he was London managing partner.

Johnson, a leading individual for high-value private equity according to The Legal 500, was Linklaters’ influential Nordic dealmaker when his departure in 2015 for Kirkland sent shockwaves around the market.

He was believed to have joined Kirkland on a $5m package after turning down an offer from White & Case and had as a key client Swedish private equity house EQT.

Johnson made the move from Linklaters to Kirkland hot on the heels of rising star Matthew Elliott the same year. His move also prompted other corporate partners to leave Linklaters, including the high-profile David Holdsworth and Stuart Boyd.

A spokesperson for Kirkland said: ‘We do not comment on personnel matters.  But we can confirm that Roger Johnson is no longer affiliated with the firm.  We wish him well in his future endeavours.’

For his part, Membrillera acts for private equity firms and their portfolio companies on cross-border M&A and leveraged transactions across Europe.

Jon Ballis, chair of Kirkland’s executive committee said of the hire: ‘Alvaro is one of Europe’s top private equity lawyers with substantial experience leading complex cross-border transactions for sophisticated financial sponsors. We’re very pleased that the Kirkland platform continues to attract leading talent like Alvaro, particularly in Europe, which is one of our fastest growing markets.’