Kirkland & Ellis partner class hits highs after lucrative year

Signage is seen outside of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Washington, D.C.
Signage is seen outside of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • The firm promoted 151 lawyers to partner
  • The biggest group of new partners are in M&A and private equity

(Reuters) - Kirkland & Ellis elevated 151 attorneys to partner on Friday, which appears to be a record class size for the nation's highest-revenue law firm.

Kirkland's latest round of promotions outpaced last year's by six lawyers, and bested 2017's partner class by 54. The firm's partner class has expanded each year since 2017.

Chicago-founded Kirkland has grown at a rapid clip in recent years, and nearly hit the $5 billion annual revenue mark in 2020, according to data from the American Lawyer. It's also one of the larger Big Law firms by headcount, with approximately 2,900 attorneys spread across 18 offices around the world.

Kirkland’s Chicago and New York offices saw the largest number of partner promotions this year, at 30 each. The London office is home to 19 new partners, and Houston also saw 19 new partners promoted.

The firm did not immediately respond to requests for data on the gender balance of the new partner class.

Big Law firms have frequently been criticized in the past for failure to promote women, minorities and other diverse lawyers through their ranks.

Nearly a third of Kirkland’s newly elevated partners – 47 –are in M&A and private equity, two of the best-known practices at the firm. Another 36 are in litigation or intellectual property litigation practices. And 18 of Kirkland’s new partners practice in the investment funds space.

The firm has been expanding aggressively in recent months. It opened an Austin, Texas office in April, and last month announced that it was launching in Salt Lake City with three partners moving over from other existing offices.

Read more:

Kirkland continues Texas expansion with new Austin outpost

Kirkland eyes local law schools with Salt Lake City office launch

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at