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Sidley Austin reunites Willkie partner with incoming Kirkland private equity team

Sidley Austin has filled a hole in its City finance debt team with the hire of Willkie Farr & Gallagher corporate leveraged finance partner James Crooks.

Former Kirkland partner Crooks has officially resigned from Willkie Farr and accepted an offer from Sidley. He will re-join six former Kirkland partners – private equity partners Christian Iwasko, Erik Dahl and Fatema Orjelam alongside banking partner Bryan Robson, corporate partner Sava Savov and tax partner Oliver Currall – at the new shop.

Crooks had worked closely with debt finance specialist Robson during his time at Kirkland. Crooks left Kirkland in 2014 to join Willkie Farr as the firm was building its City debt finance practice. He specialises in debt finance, including syndicated lending, leveraged acquisitions and general banking with significant experience in private equity, capital markets and debt restructuring transactions.

The hire is a significant coup for Sidley which is clearly investing in the City, which in the past had no serious private equity offering. The firm also hiked all associate pay in the City office to at least £100,000 to secure seven associates moving across with the Kirkland team.

Sidley also gave some of the new partners and the joining team of seven associates a signing-on fee of up to £100,000 each in addition to their salaries.