Kirkland hit by exit of restructuring star Sprayregen

US firm Kirkland & Ellis has been rocked by the departure of Chicago-based superstar and head of bankruptcy and restructuring James Sprayregen.

Sprayregen, who has been with the US firm for 16 years, will leave the firm early next month (July) to join Goldman Sachs in a non-legal role. He will help lead the bank’s practice advising clients in restructuring and distressed situations.

Sprayregen said in an email to his clients: “The opportunity to work at Goldman Sachs is a new challenge that I could not resist”.

Sprayregen, who was most notably United Airlines lead bankruptcy legal adviser, is considered one of the top US bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers. His other clients include Conseco, Tower Automotive, NRG Energy and Trans World Airlines.

Kirkland has not yet confirmed Sprayregen’s successor as head of restructuring, although the firm’s chair Tom Yannucci said Kirkland “looks forward to working closely with Jamie in his new position”.

The loss follows the announcement that the co-founder of the firm’s London office, Stuart Mills, will also leave the firm in September.

As first reported in The Lawyer (8 May), Mills, one of the two founding partners of Kirkland’s London office in 1994, plans to return to the US in order to “pursue other interests”.