Well, we may not know what 2020 will bring for the economics of Biglaw, but we are getting the 2019 results right about now. While not every firm has yet reported their financials, we do know what Kirkland & Ellis — the reigning top revenue pile in Biglaw — did in 2019. And, you guys, they had a banger of a year.
That’s right, in 2019, Kirkland saw their revenue rise by an impressive 10.6 percent, bringing them to a crazy $4.154 billion in revenue. Wow. And profits per equity partner were also up — 3.13 percent to $5.195 million.
The firm is also busy getting bigger. In 2019, Kirkland’s headcount went up 12.6 percent, with the London office leading the way with a 3.3 percent headcount increase, bring that office to ~307 lawyers. However, all the headcount growth does have a downside, with revenue per lawyer dipping 1.8 percent to $1.59 million.
As reported by Law.com, a big part of the firm’s growth — in both headcount and money — has been their mergers and acquisitions practice:
Among the deals Kirkland lawyers worked on last year was the $90 billion acquisition of Celgene Corp., a Summit, New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company, by Bristol-Myers Squibb, in one of the largest pharma industry acquisitions ever.
The firm’s 2019 lateral hires reflected its continued focus on M&A and private equity work. Among the 20 lawyers Kirkland poached from Proskauer Rose in March 2019 were several partners whose work centered around private equity. The firm also added Adrian Maguire from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; corporate lawyers Vincent Ponsonnaille and Laurent Victor-Michel; Latham’s Debbie Yee; and David Klein of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to its ranks over the past year.
They also had some big-ticket litigation victories on behalf Boeing and Facebook. Plus the restructuring practice also had a great year. They worked on the Toys “R” Us restructuring as well as the bankruptcies of FullBeauty Brands, Things Remembered, Forever 21, Destination Maternity, Pier One, Acosta, McDermott International, Vanguard Natural Resources, Jones Energy, and Murray Energy.
Congrats to Kirkland on a great 2019.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).
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