Kirkland Shortens Track to Equity Partnership

Kirkland & Ellis is shortening the amount of time it takes for its lawyers to qualify for equity partnership.

The firm, which is the world’s largest by revenue, previously required its lawyers to be associates for six years and then an additional four years as a salaried partner before they could be considered for equity partnership.

The firm announced internally today that it is reducing the amount of time lawyers need to be salaried partners before they can progress, to three years, according to a memo obtained by International. The move means lawyers who make it that far will take nine years, rather than 10, to become equity partners.

The changes apply globally and come into effect in time for this year’s equity promotions, which are currently being decided, according to one person with knowledge of the matter.

A Kirkland spokesperson confirmed the change but declined to comment further.

The shortening of the equity track offers the firm’s more junior lawyers the chance to share in the profits of the firm more quickly at a time when law firms are fiercely competing for talent.

Kirkland’s average equity partner profits are $6.2 million. It is ranked third in the world for PEP, behind only Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Kirkland currently has 476 equity partners and 682 non-equity partners according to the latest data from ALM Intelligence tool Legal Compass. It also has 1567 associates, according to the data tool.

In October the firm named 151 new salaried partners. The firm has grown rapidly over recent years, adding about 1,000 lawyers to its ranks globally since 2017.

Kirkland’s Memo:


TO:                 Firmwide Partners

FROM:          Firm Committee

RE:                 Announcement – Share Partnership Track Change

As described this morning, we are very excited to formally announce that we are shortening our track for consideration to share partnership.  Partners will now first be considered for equity following their ninth year out of law school.  Given the talent of our partnership and the increased responsibilities and experience gained in today’s environment, we believe that consideration for equity a year sooner is appropriate.

We thank each of you for your effort and dedication towards the continued success of K&E.

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