Kirkland & Ellis

International Top 30 position: 10
Asia-Pacific International 50 rank: 38

To read about this firm’s Asia Pacific practice, please click here

The Asia Pacific profile is an edited version of a full write-up that appears in The Lawyer Asia Pacific 150, a comprehensive analysis of the legal market in the region that ranks the top 100 local firms and leading 50 international players by headcount. For more information and to purchase your copy please click here

Chicago-headquartered Kirkland & Ellis posted a global turnover of $1.75bn in 2011. The firm has six offices in the US — Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Washington DC — and four other offices in London, Munich, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The turnover for the firm's London office was $112m, which placed it in 10th place in The Lawyer Top 30 International Firms leader board. According to 2011 figures, 103 lawyers work out of Kirkland's London office.

The office had an unexpected change in management in 2012 when Jim Learner resigned suddenly from the firm to join a US private equity house and private equity partner Graham White was appointed London office managing partner.

In spite of this hiccup, 2012 was a strong year for the firm and in the early part of the year partners from the London office joined forces with Kirkland's San Francisco corporate partner David Breach to steer Visa Equity Partners through its $2bn acquisition of UK software company Misys.

Another prime example of the firm's cross-border expertise was shown in September 2012 when the firm was instructed by Chinese insurer, Ping An Life Insurance Company, in a landmark arbitration case against the Kingdom of Belgium. The case, which is being led by Kirkland's London arbitation head Chris Colbridge, is believed to be the first such case to be filed by a Chinese company at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (Icsid).

Asia Pacific

No. of lawyers: 54
Offices: 2

It was only in 2011 that a senior figure at the Chicago-based firm told The Lawyer that while Asia was definitely on the firm's radar, its global practice-watchers shouldn't expect a rash of office openings. “We tend not to open offices unless there is a very compelling reason,” said a management team partner. “We normally build out our practice before we open an office.”

Two years down the track the firm maintains a discreet practice on the ground, having launched in the autumn of 2011 a full-service transactional and Hong Kong law facility through aggressive lateral hiring.

Elsewhere in the region, the firm's Shanghai office is billed as acting for Chinese and foreign private equity and corporate clients on complex deals around M&A, equity investment and fund formation. It also targets Chinese businesses for outbound investment advice.

Briefings from Kirkland & Ellis

  • Break-up fees — picking your number

    During the course of negotiations of every public company deal, inevitably the conversation will turn to the amount of the break-up fee payable by a target company to a buyer if the deal is terminated under certain circumstances.

Analysis from The Lawyer

  • money

    SJB and the problem with private equity

    When a firm shouts loudly about a landmark merger, as SJ Berwin did when it joined forces with King & Wood Mallesons, departures are always likely to come under the spotlight.

Browse This Firm’s


30 St Mary Axe

Firmwide revenue 2011 ($m): 1,750
Global lawyers 2011: 1,457
No. of lawyers (Asia Pacific): 54
Offices (Asia Pacific): 2