Kirkland & Ellis International LLP brochure 2021/22

Stand out from the crowd

03 Welcome

07 An international reputation

09 Meet Tilly Kersley

Stand out from the crowd

11 An incredible location

12 Meet Rajinder Bassi

14 High-profile clients


17 Steer your own career

18 Meet Holly Donovan

21 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 2,900 lawyers in 18 offices around the world.

22 Multiple practice areas

24 An inspirational culture

26 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.

28 Meet Sam Sherwood

30 People that fit

32 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 around ten trainees who join a team of over 350 lawyers, based in London’s iconic Gherkin building. 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.”

Finance 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 three 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 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. When I started at the firm as a trainee, my first seat was debt finance. I’d experienced a taster workshop at the graduate fair and my interest continued from there. Debt finance was also my third seat – on secondment to our Hong Kong office. I was there for six months and I gained experience of banking deals you don’t always get exposure to in the UK. The training culture is consistent with the UK – you’re given immediate responsibility but also a lot of support from a friendly and collegiate team. It was great to experience working in a new city and to build on my Kirkland & Ellis network. 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.



“Before you apply, make sure you understand what we do.”

“There’s a different energy to transactional work.”

Work in one of London’s most iconic buildings

“Our high-profile location in the Gherkin corresponds to the high-profile work we’re involved in.”



Look out of the windows at Kirkland & Ellis and you’ll see the City where the big deals and transactions we’re involved in are taking place.

Go up to the top floor and you’ll really feel the buzz of working in the Gherkin. It’s one of the most admired buildings in the world for its prime location and truly distinctive shape.

Of course, it’s easy to forget what an incredible building it is when you’re busy working. But when your clients, friends and family pay a visit you’ll remember once again. We love being here. Right at the heart of things.

Training Principal Rajinder Bassi

“Our small trainee intake each year gives us the freedom to run a less rigid training programme than most big firms. 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.



“You have direct client contact early on and they’re fine with that. With the whole team involved, the client knows they’re getting a quality product.” Newly Qualified

“Our clients are often young, very dynamic and innovative. They look to us for solutions to get their transactions done.”

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 companies.” “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.”

“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.”



Training programmes at many other law firms are far more rigid and formalised than they are at Kirkland & Ellis because of the number of trainees they have in their intake. 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.”

“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.”

Corporate Associate (Former Kirkland Trainee) Holly Donovan Graduate in Law, Oxford University

“My final seat was corporate – a secondment to our New York office. I worked on wholly US deals, as well as international ones, and gained fresh perspectives that really helped once I returned to working in London.”

As a trainee you’re exposed to interesting projects and collaborate on deals involving household names. One I worked on made headline news. My final seat was corporate – I went on secondment to the New York office. It was a fantastic experience to spend six months living and working in Manhattan. I worked on wholly US deals, as well as international ones, and gained fresh perspectives that really helped once I returned to working in London. It was noticeable on qualification how ready I was to fulfil my responsibilities. Because you learn on the job at Kirkland & Ellis, you gain great experience. Plus, because the intake is small – it was ten in my year – you’re given responsibility for important work straightaway. Your supervisor helps you navigate how much work you have on and what you’re ready for, but you can put yourself forward for new work as well. It’s a hard-working, committed environment and people are extremely motivated to be involved in deals.

Everyone is very supportive and the close team environment really works. The lack of hierarchy and open access to associates and partners, makes Kirkland & Ellis a friendly and sociable place to be as a trainee. By the end of your four seats, you’ll pretty much know everyone in the office, both lawyers and support staff, and whether you fancy a quick drink after work or decide to take on a charity triathlon (a few of us did recently), you’ll find people who are enthusiastic about joining in. Knowing people across the firm is one of the best things about training at Kirkland & Ellis. It’s another way that the transition from trainee to associate is made easier. You’re already familiar with the people and teams, and how things are done, and they know what you can do.



“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.”

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. 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.

Our small intake of trainees allows our training programme to be less rigid than at many other law firms. 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, funds and debt finance so it is likely you will spend a seat in each of these. Your other seat/s will be allocated from the following: • Real Estate Finance • Restructuring • Litigation (IP Litigation and International Arbitration and Litigation) • Antitrust & Competition • Financial Services Regulatory • Tax • Technology and IP Transactions During the second year of your Training Contract you may have an opportunity to apply for an overseas seat.

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 £55,000 and this rises to £60,000 in the second year. We pay the fees for your compulsory qualification prep courses and exams (Solicitor’s Qualification Examination) and provide a £10,000 maintenance grant for the year of study. On top of that we also offer: Private medical insurance Life insurance

We offer around 30 vacation placements each year, throughout spring and summer, 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 Employee assistance plan Cycle to work scheme Free breakfast Emergency back-up child/ elder-care

Subsidised lunch Team activities - netball and football Wellbeing app 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

Pro Bono Over the last year, lawyers from

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 five full calendar years that Kirkland has worked on these projects. Since 2015, 160 Kirkland attorneys have dedicated 8,600 Pro Bono hours, assisting 132 clients in need. In 2020, Kirkland attorneys around the world, devoted over 9,300 hours to LGBT- focused Pro Bono work, including nearly 4,000+ hours to the case challenging the ban on transgender service members in the US. COVID-19 Related Pro Bono To assist businesses affected by COVID-19, Kirkland established the Small Business Remote Legal Clinic in partnership with Lawyers for Good Government and the City Bar Justice Center. In addition, Kirkland’s IP attorneys also provided advice, Pro Bono, for the development of ventilators and the manufacturing of PPE during the height of the pandemic, when these were in short supply globally. In total, Kirkland attorneys have dedicated over 8,300 hours to COVID-related work.

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. 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, 75 Kirkland attorneys from the London office have dedicated over 1,000 Pro Bono hours and assisted over 250 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 Employment and Support, Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments appeals.



In 2020, lawyers across Kirkland & Ellis worldwide devoted more than 138,000 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 & Ellis 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.”

Finance 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 2024, with vacancies open to both law and non-law students and graduates.

Applications for our 2022 spring and summer Vacation Schemes open on 1st October 2021 and close on 2 January 2022. Applications for our Training Contracts open on 1st April 2022 and close on 10 July 2022.

All applications should be made via our website




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