Kirkland & Ellis International
Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis employs more than 1,500 lawyers and is amongst the world's top-grossing law firms. Kirkland has cemented its status and global position through its key practice areas: corporate, finance, intellectual property, litigation, and restructuring.
Fast paced, dynamic and outgoing.
- Strong team ethic among the trainees
- Partners and associates are very approachable and happy to help
- Small teams, good exposure to a variety of work and early responsibility
- Very decent salary
- Amazing views from the office in the Gherkin
- Trainees are kept fully involved in all matters they're working on
- The hours, the hours... especially during busy periods
- There doesn't tend to be a great amount of socialising, due to the nature of the work making it hard for everyone to attend
- The in-house kitchen
Training Contract: The majority of our applications for training contracts come from penultimate-year law students and final-year non-law students. However, graduates and post-graduates are also eligible to apply. Academically, you will have an excellent all-round record. Trainees generally come to us with an expected or achieved 2.1 in any discipline. So beyond your qualifications, you really need the right personal qualities to succeed with us. First and foremost, you must have a clear ambition to be an outstanding lawyer in one of our practice areas. You’ll need the drive, determination and work ethic to thrive in a true meritocracy. A confident, inquisitive team player, you will also come to us with plenty of initiative and ideally some prior understanding of the work we undertake in our London office.
When to Apply: For a 2015 training contract, the deadline is 31st July 2013.
Salary: Our current starting salary for trainee solicitors is £41,000, rising to £44,000 in the second year of training.
Vacancies: We offer up to 10 places for graduates from any discipline.
Find Out More
Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis employs more than 1,500 lawyers, ranked in the top ten for average profit per partner globally in 2012, Legal Business Global 100, and is amongst the world’s top-grossing law firms. Kirkland has cemented its status and global position through its four core areas of expertise: corporate and tax, intellectual property, litigation, and restructuring. In the City, the firm’s office in the Gherkin is home to approximately 120 lawyers.
Kirkland & Ellis was founded in 1909 by Stuart Shepard and Robert McCormick. As the grandson of the founder of the Chicago Tribune, McCormick eventually left the firm to become the newspaper’s publisher. However, as a result of his outspoken editorial policy, he soon required a defamation defence team – in steps the eponymous Weymouth Kirkland, who had joined the firm in 1915. Together with a young associate, Howard Ellis, the duo played parts in many prominent trials, setting the firm on course to become one of the most powerful litigation practices in the US.
In the ‘90s, Kirkland’s largest private equity clients, the likes of Bain Capital and Madison Dearborn, were starting to invest their vast chests in assets on the continent – setting up their own London offices and European funds. So in 1994, Kirkland & Ellis followed them to the City to assist in structuring their investments. Even before the firm added UK law capability to its London practice in 2001, Kirkland would advise these American institutions on their deals, calling on local lawyers to help out where necessary. Additional offices followed, with the firm opening its second European office in 2004 in Munich, and expanding to Asia with a Hong Kong office just two years later, before cracking the bubbly again in Shanghai in 2009.
Half of Kirkland’s lawyers are litigators, so it probably shouldn’t come as any great surprise that their work accounts for half of the firm’s revenue. Kirkland is known for its doggedly aggressive approach, and while settlement is always an option, this is a firm that is ready, eager and confident to go to trial. The firm boasts an impressive private equity practice, with some 300 lawyers practising in the US alone. And while the firm’s M&A practice may get overshadowed by the renowned PE team, it doesn’t invalidate the fact that it does top-notch work. Some of Kirkland’s high-profile clients include Bain Capital, Motorola and General Motors.
In 1982, the firm established the Kirkland & Ellis Foundation, for the purpose of providing financial support to not-for-profit, charitable and law-related organisations – serving a wide range of communities, initiatives and people. Although focussing predominantly on groups that help improve legal services, the foundation actively seeks to partner with organisations committed to enhancing quality of life – through improved health care, educational opportunities, cultural awareness, emergency relief and humanitarian efforts, youth programs, public policy and community outreaches.Read all 141 employee quotes
Kirkland & Ellis is highly regarded as one of the most successful American law firms in the City and in turn looks to recruit ‘confident and charismatic individuals who are independent workers’ and who are ‘ready to take the initiative’. The London office is duly situated in one of the most iconic buildings in the City – the Gherkin. The firm only takes on a select number of trainees each year with up to ten training contracts available.
Trainees are generally very satisfied with their training which involves ‘great exposure’ to high-quality work and ‘as much responsibility as you can handle’. As one trainee tells us, you may frequently find yourself ‘working on tasks usually carried out by junior associates at other firms’. There is close and continuous contact between partners and trainees, and the ‘very open-door culture’ makes Kirkland & Ellis ‘a friendly place to work’.
The structure of the training contract resembles that of most other law firms in the City, consisting of four six-month seats typically in corporate (a compulsory seat), banking, restructuring, funds, IP, tax or international litigation/arbitration. ‘As the number of trainees is very small, there is a great degree of choice involved’ and trainees are particularly drawn to the fact that secondments can be completed in the firm’s international offices – trainees have been to New York and Hong Kong.
Due to the small intake, Kirkland & Ellis can be very selective in picking its candidates so the recruitment process is suitably competitive and extensive. The firm looks for confident, intelligent people that will fit in quickly and easily, and have an interest in the work the firm does. When you apply you’ll go through several rounds of interviews with a mix of partners and associates. Interviews are said to be ‘formal, but honest, relaxed and very fair’. The firm has a tendency ‘to recruit from Russell group universities’ and current trainees recommend that potential applicants ‘use their initiative and research the firm and the areas in which we specialise’ thoroughly before applying.
Kirkland & Ellis Graduate Recruitment Info
Graduate Recruitment Specialist
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7469 2000
Training Contracts: 31st July 2013
Vacation Scheme (summer): Applications close 31st January 2013
No. of lawyers firm-wide: 1,500
No. of lawyers in London: 120
Trainee intake: 10
Trainees retained: 85% (2012), 100% (2011)
No. of applications per year: Approx. 800
KIRKLAND & ELLIS: 2013 LAW RANKINGS
# 19 Most Reputable Law Firm (6.44/10)
# 1 in Selectivity (9.50/10)
# 1 in Offices (9.75/10)
# 1 in Trainee Retention (9.50/10)
# 1 in Diversity (9.50/10)
# 1 (Tie) in Career Prospects for Solicitors (8.00/10)
# 2 in Salary (9.00/10)
# 4 in Pro Bono (8.00/10)
# 6 (Tie) in Overall Satisfaction (8.50/10)
# 6 (Tie) in Satisfaction with Work (8.17/10)
1st year trainee: £41,000
2nd year trainee: £44,000
Newly qualified: £97,000
Compare all Salaries for London Law Firms
Antitrust & Competition
Corporate chef, car service, lawyers bringing us out for lunches/dinners, high budget for firm events.First year traineeHelpful?
One interview with three partners - it was one of the most relaxed interviews I have had. But that being said not everyone has it so easy. I was asked about myself and my life and nothing challenging.Second year traineeHelpful?
No official statistics; firm-wide has increased women and ethnic minorities.First year traineeHelpful?
Ability, hard work and good relations with colleagues and clients alike will help you advance.Newly qualifiedHelpful?