The Legal Cheek View
One of the firms at the forefront of the MoneyLaw trend, Kirkland & Ellis is paying London newly qualified solicitors a whopping dollar-tied figure that has risen as high as £147,000. These levels of cash may seem eye-watering, but they are nothing compared to what the firm’s partners earn: last year profit per equity partner at K&E stood at an astonishing $3.604 million (£2.7 million).
You have to work hard to earn such sums, of course. One London rookie sums up the deal: “I don't really have an issue with the hours, as whilst they are sometimes very intense it is usually for a very short time period (i.e. a week or two of intense hours, followed by a few weeks of 7-10pm finishes). However the 24/7 email culture (even on weekends and holidays) gets pretty wearing.”
The Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey found the average going home time at Kirkland to be 9:14pm. Still, it’s worth noting that K&E lawyers arrive later in the office than most, starting work, on average, at a leisurely 9:44am.
The other sweetener to those long hours is Kirkland’s delightful London office – located on the 19th-25th floors of Sir Norman Foster’s Gherkin building in the City. Not a bad place to wile away those days (and nights) at the coalface of private equity law, Kirkland’s core practice area.
Training-wise, this isn’t the sort of firm that holds new recruits’ hands, but for those who can cut it the quality of work is top notch. “You get as much as you're willing to take on,” one insider tells us.
Travel opportunities are quite good, with over 20% of trainees spending time on secondment, mostly in Hong Kong but sometimes in New York. Meanwhile, despite the riches, the firm’s culture is pretty down-to-earth. We’re told that “regular socials and a young entrepreneurial team mean that everyone knows each other and get along well.”
What wannabe lawyers shouldn’t expect from K&E is gimmicky perks (the money and the office are the perks). If, and it’s a big if, you can handle the workload and lifestyle, the corporate law experience doesn’t get much purer than K&E.