Kirkland & Ellis is recognized as one the nation’s greatest law firms. Not only does the firm offer a compelling combination of prestige, profitability, and pay, but it continues to shatter the market on partners — in a HUGE way.
Bigger continues to be 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 — 6% larger than last year’s gigantic class, in fact. This year, the firm welcomed a partner class of 205, up from 2022’s then-record 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:
Despite a difficult year for many elite firms, Kirkland grew in revenue and profits in 2021. The firm grossed roughly $6.5 billion in 2022, and increased profits per partner to around $7.5 million, while increasing its partner and overall lawyer headcount. Significant litigation work, a second-half jump in restructuring and solid middle-market performance helped keep the firm humming despite a difficult global deal environment.
But how many of these new partners will enter the firm’s equity ranks? In 2021, for example, 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 Crosses 200 in Latest Record Round of Partner Promotions [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 and Threads or connect with her on LinkedIn.