There’s no denying that Kirkland & Ellis is one the nation’s greatest law firms. Not only does the firm offer a compelling combination of prestige, profitability, and pay, but now it’s once again shattering the market on partners — in a HUGE way.
Bigger continues to better at Kirkland, because the firm just announced its largest-ever partner class. We’re not exaggerating when we say this class is absolutely gigantic — 28% larger than last year’s class, in fact. This year, the firm welcomed a partner class of 193, up from 2021’s then-record class of 151, 2020’s then-record class of 145, 2019’s then-record class of 141, and 2018’s then-record class of 122. Noticing a trend here? Kirkland’s partnership classes have been growing larger every year.
The American Lawyer casts the firm’s latest and largest partner class against this time of economic turmoil for other firms:
The new partnership class at the No. 1 ranked Am Law 100 firm is even more significant, considering 2022 has seen a large drop in M&A deal value and volume. Global M&A value is down about 34% year-over-year and deal volume is down 17.4%, according to the initial data from Refinitiv.
It also comes as law firms across the Am Law 200 and others are making a series of personnel moves to adjust to economic headwinds, including hiring freezes, layoffs timed to performance reviews and delayed associate start dates and as rumors of associate layoffs are circulating amid high inflation and interest rates.
But how many of these new partners will enter the firm’s equity ranks? Last year, Kirkland had 490 equity partners and 763 nonequity partners. The firm recently made it easier for nonequity partners to become equity partners (down from four years as a salaried partner to three), but it’s still quite difficult to make equity at the firm.
As far as diversity is concerned, Kirkland opted once again not to show photos of its new partnership class. In the past, the firm’s new partners were looking mighty male and mighty white. It’s important for firms to know that these subjects won’t go unnoticed. Diversity and inclusion matter — to a firm’s current lawyers, to potential recruits, and perhaps most importantly, to clients.
Kirkland Promotes Record Class of Lawyers to Partner [American Lawyer]
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.