Stand out from the crowd
04 Be part of the team
07 An international reputation
Stand out from the crowd
10 High-profile clients
12 Meet Rajinder Bassi
09 Meet Arun Sohan-Pall
15 Steer your own career
16 Meet Tilly Kersley
19 A friendly environment
Choosing which firm to start your legal career with is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make.
At Kirkland & Ellis we combine the benefits of a small trainee intake with the excitement of being part of a global firm, employing over 3,000 lawyers in 19 offices around the world.
20 Multiple practice areas
22 An inspirational culture
24 Our contribution to society
It’s the best of both worlds, ensuring you have both the support and space you need to grow.
Talent, drive and enthusiasm. That’s what makes a Kirkland & Ellis lawyer.
27 Meet Sam Sherwood
28 People that fit
30 How to apply
“Trainees at Kirkland & Ellis seize the opportunity to take ownership of every task and make things happen for their clients and team. We reward them with real responsibility.”
At Kirkland & Ellis, we work on the biggest and most complex global private equity transactions. These are dynamic, challenging and high-profile deals that stretch your intellect and require you to be a business advisor as well as a lawyer. You will meet extremely talented clients from the most successful businesses and financial sponsors on transactions across a diverse range of industry sectors. Each year we recruit up to 20 trainees who join a team of over 450 lawyers. We look for people who have a genuine interest in private equity and transactional legal work as well as individuals who are self-motivated, driven and ambitious. We have a track record of promoting our associates to partner after six years; our aim is to provide all our lawyers with an accelerated career path, the best technical and deal experience, and client development opportunities. On top of the essential academic qualifications, we’re interested in individuals who can demonstrate initiative and who have the confidence and ambition to thrive in an environment that places no limits on how successful you can be.
At Kirkland & Ellis, we have close-knit deal teams of partners and associates. As such, all our lawyers get the opportunity to work across every aspect of a transaction, right from day one. This will give you full exposure to how deals come together and a greater appreciation of the importance of the tasks that you will be involved in. With an understanding of the big picture, you will quickly become an integral part of the team, putting forward ideas and finding solutions to complex legal and deal issues. Join a firm that is highly successful, entrepreneurial, energetic and fun. Kirkland & Ellis is a place where individual thinking is encouraged and where the view of each lawyer is respected. Everyone gets fully involved and takes ownership of their work to achieve the best result for the client. Read on to learn more about the experiences of some of our lawyers, and apply for our Vacation Scheme to experience it for yourself. We look forward to meeting you.
“There’s almost no trainee role. You just dig in and do it.” Trainee
“We operate small teams which means everyone has a role and our trainees gain exposure to everything that goes on.”
Be part of the team from day one
“You’re given problems to solve which makes you feel part of the team immediately.” “You learn here by doing and as a trainee you have to show you want to be involved.”
We believe in giving our trainees ready access to associates and partners because it means you hear about the work going on and the role you can play.
You’ll be heavily involved with real deals and cases, not just listening and learning but relied upon to make a valuable contribution to the team.
“This kind of training is challenging in some ways but there is always support there.”
“We have international work in the London office as well as working with our colleagues overseas on international projects.” Partner
“You learn different
ways of working when you’re involved in deals for international clients.”
Work for a firm with a strong international reputation
“We’re not just an English law practice. A great deal of the work we do in London is international, involving the US, Europe and Asia.”
Kirkland & Ellis is a recognised major force on the global stage, practising English, US and international law. Our global footprint of offices and international outlook means we’re trusted by many of today’s biggest global brands. The organisations we work with in London and the size of the transactions means we handle frequent matters across multiple jurisdictions. We have a reputation for managing our clients’ international objectives very effectively.
“I’ve worked on a deal that involved 11 jurisdictions.”
Trainee Solicitor Arun Sohan-Pall Graduate in Law, London School of Economics
“Being a Kirkland trainee has exceeded every expectation I had of my training contract. In a short amount of time, I have had exposure to a range of deals that have left me excited about my future as a lawyer.”
I completed the summer vacation scheme in 2019. I sat in Debt Finance but was encouraged to seek work from a range of different teams. It became apparent very quickly that Kirkland prides itself on developing junior lawyers by giving them responsibility early on. For example, I completed several pieces of work that were used on live transactions. Despite their busy schedules, associates and partners were always willing to sit down and speak to me, be it to explain legal concepts or to offer general advice on navigating a career in law. Upon receiving my training contract offer following the scheme, accepting was a straightforward decision. I am currently sat in Corporate having done my first seat in Debt Finance and second seat in Financial Services Regulatory. It has been fascinating to see the different angles of private equity transactions. In all my seats, I have been treated like an important member of the team from day one.
Within the first week of my training contract, I was emailing the CFO of a company and was trusted to take the lead on running junior processes. Although this can be daunting, you always feel supported – I have never felt like I can’t reach out to someone to ask for help. Trainees also sit with a supervisor who are always there to offer advice and guidance. It is remarkable how much you can learn from just sitting in the same room as an experienced lawyer operating at the pinnacle of the legal market. It is easy to stay motivated here when surrounded by driven and ambitious individuals. The energy is infectious, and encourages you to go beyond what you think you are capable of. Looking back, the training contract has involved a lot of hard work, but I have had so much fun along the way. I could not imagine being a trainee anywhere else.
“You have direct client contact early on and they’re fine with that. With the whole team involved, the client knows they’re
“Our clients are often young, very dynamic and innovative. They look to us for solutions to get their transactions done.”
getting a quality product.” Newly Qualified Associate
Work with high-profile clients from the start
One of the exciting things about the work we do at Kirkland & Ellis is advising clients from well-known companies – businesses we see around us every day. Everything from retail companies to healthcare, real estate to hospitality. It’s not unusual for the deals we’re involved in to be covered in the business pages and sometimes the headline news. It gives all of us a lot of satisfaction – no matter how long we’ve been in the business – to know we’re operating at that level and at the top of our game.
“You’re quickly working with your peers in client companies in investment banks and private equity firms.” “With the clients we have you need to be commercial, intellectual and entrepreneurial.”
“You shouldn’t come to Kirkland & Ellis for the sake of being a lawyer. You should want to be part of the business and commercial world.”
Training Principal Rajinder Bassi
“Trainees spend the majority of their time working on real deals and cases gaining exposure to partners who are working at the top of their game.”
During the first weeks at Kirkland & Ellis, all trainees participate in an induction process that introduces them to every department we have. Our aim is to ease you into working life and integrate you into the firm. Everyone will be aware of your arrival and will be looking forward to meeting you. You’re seen as a valuable new resource for partners and associates to draw on – something you need to live up to. Over the next four months there are lunchtime training sessions for you to participate in, which cover different aspects of each practice area. These are delivered by partners and are the more formalised part of our training programme. They give you valuable grounding in the practice areas that you may experience during your seat rotations. The opportunities to play to your interests are enormous and the self-starters we’re looking for will always be talking to associates and partners about the projects going on and the work they can get involved in. Your supervisor in each seat will help you control your workload so you can deliver on all of the responsibilities you’re eager to fulfil.
A desire for responsibility is one of the common threads amongst Kirkland & Ellis trainees. We’re a firm that’s happy to give it to you based on your proven ability to deliver. With our mid and end of seat reviews we give you feedback on your development and the opportunity to develop and mould your capabilities and approach in response. Feedback is a two-way street, however. An important cultural aspect of our firm is the dialogue we encourage. Doors are always open to trainees who have ideas and initiatives they want to put forward and our non-hierarchical and meritocratic approach means great ideas will be responded to far quicker than they would be elsewhere. Our responsiveness is a key feature of our entrepreneurial culture. We’re a firm that doesn’t stand still, always finding new and better ways to do things for the success of our clients, our firm and our people. So if you want opportunities in abundance, have the confidence and drive to act on them yourself, and have the personal skills you need to build a network and become part of the team, Kirkland & Ellis is a place you will flourish without question.
“It was enlightening discovering how the partners handled things.” Trainee
Take responsibility for your own career
“The firm looks for self-starters who will take opportunities to learn.”
The culture of the firm is friendly and informal, the training process feels open and flexible. You can talk to anyone about the work you’re doing and are encouraged to ask questions. You can get involved in private equity work, leveraged financings, financial restructurings, taxation arrangements on domestic and international transactions, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory and fund formation matters, and competition issues, as well as litigation and arbitration cases.
There is a lot to choose from!
“If you take the initiative people will help you get involved and explain things.”
Associate (Former Kirkland Trainee) Tilly Kersley Graduate in French and German, Leeds University
“This is a meritocratic firm, where trainees aren’t limited by a fixed view of what trainees can do. If you work hard and do well, you get the opportunities to do better, more challenging work and keep progressing.”
It’s incredible to realise where I am today compared to four years ago. My legal knowledge has grown exponentially, becoming broader and deeper. I attribute that to hard work but also the training approach at Kirkland & Ellis. There’s a relatively small intake, you learn on the job, alongside the formal training sessions, and collaborate with lawyers at all levels of the firm. All of which ensures you learn at pace, gain exposure to people and deals, get to demonstrate your capabilities, and take on new challenges. You’re very much part of the team from day one and can set your own course by putting yourself forward for the legal work you’re interested in. Everyone is genuinely invested in helping you go as far as you can. Associates and partners alike, take the time to go through things with you.
I hadn’t considered private equity work until I met Kirkland & Ellis lawyers at a graduate fair. Their passion for the work came across immediately. They explained what it involves, clearly and intelligently, and I was able to make an educated decision about applying to the firm. Even on the Vacation Scheme, you’re involved in proper, substantive legal work straight away. I discovered the whole process of a deal, had to complete tasks independently, and really felt my opinion was valued even then. Being a trainee at Kirkland & Ellis means being committed to your career. This isn’t just a job. People at Kirkland & Ellis are passionate and driven about what they do but also really approachable. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by such motivated and talented people. The firm isn’t looking for cookie-cutter applicants. Be yourself, and if it’s right for you then there is no better place to train.
“Everyone was really welcoming and keen to help.” Associate
“It’s always fine to ask questions.”
A firm where people really matter
“We place a lot of trust in our trainees to understand and manage their own work, which for the kind of people we hire is very motivating.”
Pursuing a career in law and working for Kirkland & Ellis is challenging but everyone here is behind your success, whether that’s your supervisor during each seat, associates you collaborate with, or partners who share their knowledge and expertise. Our open culture gives you access to everyone and through regular progress meetings you can share any concerns as well as discuss your ambitions. We also give you the freedom to manage your own time, so you can deliver what’s been asked of you and fulfil your interests and commitments outside of work.
“Being in control of my own work gives me a great sense of ownership and makes me want to do it well.”
Post-qualification training Your training and development does not stop after your Training Contract. We continue to invest in your professional development through regular lunchtime training sessions and workshops. These are tailored specifically to the work of the London office, such as corporate and finance update sessions. Nearly all of our teams have dedicated Professional Support Lawyers, dedicated to ensuring you receive the highest quality training throughout your career. In addition, you will follow certain sessions from the Kirkland University, our firmwide training programme. At Kirkland & Ellis your career is our business, so we are focused on helping you become the best lawyer you can be.
High-quality training is the hallmark of our trainee training programme at Kirkland & Ellis – we have been awarded the LawCareers.Net “Best Trainer – US Law firm in the City” accolade on numerous occasions. Your success goes hand in hand with ours, so we are passionately committed to your personal development and career progression. Join us and you will receive quality training right through to qualification and beyond. You will have four six-month seats. Three of our main practice areas are corporate, debt finance and investment funds so it is likely you will spend a seat in each of these. Your other seat(s) will be allocated from one of our other complementary practice areas. Your training The formal training programme we run for the first four months of your Training Contract covers primary practice areas in detail, building on the skills you have already learned, while also introducing new topics. There are also opportunities for soft skills training.
Superior training across multiple practice areas
Start your training on our Vacation Scheme.
Before joining our firm as a trainee, you can get to know us on our Vacation Scheme. It’s designed to give you valuable hands-on experience across a range of practice areas, as well as crucial insights into how our London team operates.
Rewards & benefits First year trainees receive a starting salary of £60,000 and this rises to £65,000 in the second year. We pay the fees for your compulsory qualification prep courses and exams and provide a competitive maintenance grant for the year of study. On top of that we also offer: Private medical insurance Life insurance
We offer vacation scheme placements in spring and summer each year, and on top of training participants enjoy a busy social calendar. Most importantly you come away with a crucial network of contacts.
Dental plan GP consultation service Fertility and family forming Employee assistance plan Cycle to work scheme Free breakfast
Emergency back-up child/ elder care Subsidised lunch Wellbeing apps Kirkland concierge 25 days holiday Season ticket loan
Income protection Travel insurance Pension scheme Corporate gym membership
We were delighted to win the 2020 LawCareers.Net Best Work Placement Scheme in the City award for our successful Vacation Schemes.
“There’s a real openness about the firm which makes it easy to be yourself.” Associate
“Our commitment to diversity is reflected not only in the firm’s policies, programmes and committees, but also through our efforts to build and maintain a culture that values and gathers strength from difference.”
A working culture that inspires you
Our trainees feel the benefit of this culture from the moment their Training Contract begins, through an induction programme that eases them in to their new working environment, with a focus on integration and making sure names and faces are quickly known amongst the whole London team. All of our partners operate an open door policy, ensuring any questions about cases or deals or an individual’s role and development are dealt with in an unhindered way. The atmosphere this helps to create encourages all of our associates and trainees to collaborate, share knowledge and inspire each other too. The result for our clients is a team of highly motivated and informed lawyers working on their projects, with everyone
Our lawyers have to work hard but in the supportive and collaborative environment we nurture, the results we deliver are significant and the sense of achievement equally so. Diversity Kirkland & Ellis’s commitment to diversity has made the firm more vital, more competitive, and better able to serve a broad and varied client base in complex matters. Diversity at Kirkland & Ellis transcends race, gender identity, gender, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Our lawyers boast rich and varied backgrounds, knowledge and skills, and we value and encourage diversity with respect to each individual’s work style, career path and experiences. We work closely with diversity organisations such as Aspiring Solicitors and SEO and many of our current trainees and associates came through this route.
Everything we’re proud of at Kirkland & Ellis stems from our open, dynamic, friendly, inclusive and professional culture that we’re committed to maintaining.
making the most of each other’s knowledge and experience to get the best result.
It’s not just about work. Our lawyers and staff get together in our café at breakfast and lunchtimes and we have lots of events throughout the years such as our Halloween pumpkin carving competition, our annual quiz night, and our summer and winter parties. We also have firm netball and football teams for anyone who is interested, whatever your ability.
“Using our legal skills to better lives, communities and our profession.” Partner
A firm that takes its role in society seriously
Over the last year, lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis London have provided Pro Bono services to a diverse range of organisations and benefitted enormously from the experience of clients and challenges outside of their usual legal work. More importantly, they have really made a difference to the people for whom they have worked. Pro Bono hours are billable hours for associates and our Firm aims for each associate to spend at least 20 hours per year on Pro Bono work. Pro Bono opportunities are available to attorneys at all levels, including Vacation Scheme students and trainees. We have highlighted some of the Pro Bono projects in which attorneys at the Firm have been involved. Kirkland has partnered with the University House Legal Advice Centre, one of London’s oldest legal aid organisations, to provide volunteer staff for its weekly housing clinic in the East End of London. Since the housing clinic’s inception in 2017, 90 Kirkland attorneys from the London office have dedicated over 1,300 Pro Bono hours and assisted over 300 Legal Advice Centre clients in need. The clinic provides free legal support to vulnerable individuals facing housing issues including homelessness, evictions, and poor living conditions. Since the autumn of 2015, Kirkland attorneys have represented clients in welfare benefits appeals. The national average success rate for such appeals with representation stands at around 70%.
Teams of Kirkland attorneys have achieved between 90% and 100% success rates in each of the six full calendar years that Kirkland has worked on these projects. Since 2018, Kirkland attorneys have represented clients in unpaid wages claims to assist individuals who have been subject to wage theft, denied the minimum wage, or who are owed holiday, sickness or notice pay. In total, 167 Kirkland attorneys have dedicated 9,100 Pro Bono hours, assisting more than 150 clients in need through these projects. In 2021, Kirkland attorneys around the world, devoted over 15,500 hours to immigration focused pro bono work, including an ongoing fight in the US for a nationwide class of immigrant teenagers unlawfully transferred to adult detention centres on their 18th birthdays. The court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs and ordered a permanent injunction against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. Amicus is an apolitical, non-campaigning, non-profit organisation that helps provide legal representation to those facing the death penalty in the United States. It aims to provide better access to justice, and raises awareness of potential abuses of defendants’ rights through frontline work. Since 2020, 111 attorneys have each committed at least 20 hours per annum to one of a number of Amicus supported files.
In 2021, Kirkland & Ellis worldwide devoted more than 122,000 hours to organisations and individuals on pro bono matters. Our commitment as a firm to providing legal services without charge to those who cannot afford legal counsel is based on our goals of helping to improve clients’ lives, bettering communities and deepening the professional experience of our team. “At Kirkland, we are committed to advancing the local and global communities in which we live and work. To fulfil that mission we dedicate substantial energy, talent and resources to an array of meaningful causes and initiatives that reflect our values and vision.”
Partner (Former Kirkland Associate) Sam Sherwood Graduate in Law, Nottingham University
“I joined Kirkland & Ellis having trained at another law firm. I was attracted by the big deals and the truly international nature of the work.”
I know from conversations with my peers in other law firms that you can get far more responsibility as a junior qualified lawyer at Kirkland & Ellis than you do elsewhere. You can really forge your own career but also get all the necessary support when you need it. They help you learn as quickly as possible by giving you lots of exposure to different clients and deals. If you put the hard work in you can become a partner at six years qualified, as I did. In my first year I had the opportunity to spend two months in our Hong Kong office. I was working on a deal with a client in Australia and it made sense to be in a closer time zone. It was fantastic getting to know my colleagues in Hong Kong.
I worked on incredible deals from day one and had a real sense I was part of a firm working at the top of the market. That’s very motivating and makes you even more passionate about your work. Whether you want to train here or, if like me you join from another firm, you have to be genuinely interested in private equity and have an understanding of what it involves. Enthusiasm is essential, as is self-motivation. You’re treated like an adult, with the responsibility that goes with it, so you have to be driven. Moving to Kirkland & Ellis has been the best career choice I could have made.
“Take the time to have a proper dig around to learn more about what we do.”
“Graduates need to show us why they’re right for this firm.” Partner
All of this is possible
“We’re a young, modern firm looking for self-starters who’ve figured out through their research that they like the kind of work we do.”
When we interview we look for graduates who’ve got to know our business and understand the kind of work we do. Then we look for their excitement about doing it. There are common traits among the people we hire. Intelligence, focus, a commercial outlook. They’re independent and capable of managing themselves. But we also look for personalities that will fit with our open culture, mix well with our clients and engage fully with colleagues at all levels of the firm.
These are the people who will make partner at around six years post qualification experience.
“We want inquisitive people who are always asking, is this the best way of doing things.”
“We love finding the right people for our firm.” Partner
All of this begins with us
We’re recruiting trainees for 2025, with vacancies open to both law and non-law students and graduates.
Applications for our 2023 Spring and Summer Vacation Schemes open on 1 October 2022 and close on 1 January 2023. Applications for our Training Contracts open on 1 April 2023 and close on 2 July 2023.
All applications should be made via our website ukgraduate.kirkland.com
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