Gillespie, one of the best-known leveraged finance lawyers of his generation, has been a senior figure within A&O’s banking practice and had been nominated as its strategy development partner following a management rejig two years ago.
Kirkland & Ellis partner Jim Learner said: “We’re very excited to have Stephen join us. He’s a tremendous talent and will help us expand our private equity practice, particularly on the acquisition finance side.”
Allen & Overy announced Gillespie’s resignation to partners this morning, but the terms of his exit have not yet been finalised.
Managing partner David Morley said: “Stephen has made a broad contribution to the finance practice and we wish him every success for the future.”
Gillespie declined to comment.
Gillespie is the latest in a series of high-profile finance partners to leave A&O for US firms. Last year sponsor finance partner Tony Keal joined Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and banking partner Clive Wells signed for Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. Meanwhile, capital markets partners Julian Tucker and Angus Duncan left for Shearman & Sterling and Cadwalader respectively.
Gillespie’s decision to join Kirkland & Ellis completes the US firm’s UK private equity offering. That UK practice was dramatically kickstarted last month by the hires of Graham White and Raymond McKeeve from Linklaters.