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Kirkland & Ellis LLP


Kirkland & Ellis LLP - Chicago
  • 300 North LaSalle
  • Chicago
  • Illinois
  • USA
  • IL 60654
  • Tel:+1 312 862 2000
  • Fax:+1 312 862 2200
  • Email:Contact Us
  • Web:Visit website
  • Number of partners: 756
  • Number of other lawyers: 860
  • Website: www.kirkland.com
  • INTERNATIONAL OFFICES China, Germany, Hong Kong, United Kingdom

Firm Overview:
For more than 100 years, Kirkland & Ellis has provided exceptional service to clients around the world in complex corporate, intellectual property, litigation, real estate, restructuring, tax and counseling matters.

Main Areas of Practice:
Kirkland is a full-service law firm focusing in the following core practice areas:

Kirkland’s corporate lawyers cover the full spectrum of corporate transactions important to businesses in today’s global marketplace. Because of the firm’s consistently high volume of complex transactional engagements, it has developed a broad vision of the issues that confront business organizations and an aptitude for developing novel, creative and constructive solutions. Kirkland’s emphasis on teamwork allows it to synthesize the specialty areas needed to support a toptier transactional practice for the benefit of its clients. For two years in a row, Chambers and Partners named Kirkland as ‘Private Equity Law Firm of the Year’. In 2010, Kirkland’s Private Funds Group was recognized with an Award for Excellence from Chambers and Partners. In 2012, for the second year in a row, Kirkland was ranked No. 1 in Global Buyouts by volume and No. 1 for US M&A by Volume in mergermarket’s League Tables of Legal Advisers to M&A for Year End 2012. The firm was also one of five selected M&A ‘Practice Groups of the Year’ in 2011, and Private Equity ‘Practice Groups of the Year’ in 2011 and 2012 by Law360.

Intellectual Property:
Kirkland’s Intellectual Property Practice Group is one of the oldest such practices in a full-service firm in the country, having been an integral part of Kirkland since 1925. Located in the firm’s Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Washington, DC offices, Kirkland’s intellectual property lawyers are experienced in a variety of technical disciplines and registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Kirkland’s lawyers have been recognized for their experience in litigation, transactions, counseling and administrative matters involving all areas of intellectual property. In 2008, Kirkland was named one of three finalists in The American Lawyer’s ‘IP Litigation Department of the Year’ survey. In 2009, Kirkland was recognized with an Award for Excellence in the IP Litigation Team category by Chambers and Partners. Kirkland was one of five selected IP ‘Practice Groups of the Year’by Law360 in 2011.

Litigation & Arbitration:
Kirkland litigators expect – and are expected – to try cases. The firm believes that the best litigation results happen when the lawyers and client form a team that assumes it will try the case.Because of this trial-ready philosophy, the firm is able to offer clients a deep bench of lawyers who have been taking cases to verdict since the early stages of their careers. Whether in the courtroom, at the bargaining table or helping clients avoid risks without litigation, Kirkland has a long and proven track record of generating successful results for clients in their most high-stakes cases. In 2012, for the 11th consecutive year, Kirkland was named a ‘go-to’ firm for litigation in the Corporate Counsel survey‘Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies?’. Kirkland was named as a 2010 finalist and 2008 winner of The American Lawyer ‘Litigation Department of the Year’ competition. Kirkland’s appellate and class action practices were selected as 2012 ‘Practice Groups of the Year’by Law360.

Real Estate:
The members of the Real Estate Practice Group pursue an interdisciplinary approach to sophisticated real estate transactions to offer clients flexible and creative solutions to difficult problems across a broad range of transactions in the commercial real estate industry. In the summer of 2011, Kirkland recruited 10 seasoned real estate partners in New York and Chicago to add depth and breadth to several areas that involve important aspects of the real estate market, including joint ventures, complex debt restructurings,workouts and equity recapitalizations, fund formation, first mortgage and mortgage financings, capital markets and tax, in addition to core real estate transactional and development work. In 2011, Kirkland was one of five selected Real Estate ‘Practice Groups of the Year’by Law360.

By combining sophisticated business advisory and crisis management skills with extensive experience in domestic and international insolvency matters, Kirkland’s Restructuring Practice Group navigates clients through the turmoil of situations involving financially troubled companies. The firm has earned a distinguished reputation by achieving positive results for a wide range of global clients in complex corporate restructuring, workout and bankruptcy planning, negotiation and litigation. The practice was named second in ‘best in practice’ in the 2013 Vault Guide to the Top 100 Law Firms and was one of five selected Restructuring ‘Practice Groups of the Year’ by Law360 in 2011.

Tax, Benefits & Estate Planning:
The firm’s Tax Practice Group has handled an array of matters for clients in the courtroom and the boardroom, with proven results in the fund formation,merger and acquisition and tax litigation arenas.Kirkland’s employee benefits lawyers provide traditional employee benefits counseling and creative approaches to issues arising in the transactional, post-transactional and restructuring settings. Through the firm’s trusts and estates lawyers, individual and corporate fiduciaries receive counsel in connection with the preservation, management and transfer of wealth. In 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, Kirkland was honored as ‘Chicago Tax Firm of the Year’, and in 2012 as the ‘Americas Tax Restructuring Team of the Year’ at the International Tax Review’s Americas Tax Awards.

Kirkland also has lawyers with significant experience in the areas of antitrust and competition, regulatory, government, internal investigation and white-collar criminal defense, and securities enforcement. Kirkland’s competition and securities practices were selected as 2012 ‘Practice Groups of the Year’by Law360.


  • 333 South Hope Street,
  • Los Angeles,
  • California
  • USA
  • CA 90071
  • Tel +1 213 680 8400
  • Fax +1 213 680 8500
  • Email : mark.holscher@kirkland.com
  • 3330 Hillview Avenue,
  • Palo Alto,
  • California
  • USA
  • CA 94304
  • Tel +1 650 859 7000
  • Fax +1 650 859 7500
  • Email : adam.phillips@kirkland.com
  • 555 California Street,
  • San Francisco,
  • California
  • USA
  • CA 94104
  • Tel +1 415 439 1400
  • Fax +1 415 439 1500
  • Email : david.breach@kirkland.com
  • 655 Fifteenth Street, N.W.,
  • Washington, DC,
  • District of Columbia
  • USA
  • 20005-5793
  • Tel +1 202 879 5000
  • Fax +1 202 879 5200
  • Email : eugene.assaf@kirkland.com
  • 601 Lexington Avenue,
  • New York,
  • USA
  • NY 10022
  • Tel +1 212 446 4800
  • Fax +1 212 446 4900
  • Email : lefkowitz@kirkland.com

Banking & Finance - California

THE FIRM This expanding California group displays particular strength in representing private equity clients and their portfolio companies in a diverse range of debt finance matters. The firm's standout transactions have included a number of acquisition financings, restructurings, dividend recapitalizations and refinancings. Clients of the firm include Oaktree Capital Management, Huntsmen Gay Global Capital and Golden Gate Capital.

Sources say: "A highly responsive firm which offers good quality advice. The attorneys achieve the right balance between business and legal matters."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Christopher Kirkham is noted by interviewees who observe: "He has experienced a lot of deals and his knowledge and insight are very valuable." His abilities span the field of corporate finance, with notable strengths to be found in secured and unsecured debt finance, workouts and restructurings.

Samantha Good has taken a lead role in a number of noteworthy transactions, including a $4 billion out-of-court restructuring for Kerzner International, which owns and manages the Atlantis and One & Only holiday resorts.

Corporate/M&A - California

THE FIRM This firm is admired for the depth of its capabilities in transactions for private equity funds and their portfolio companies. Its immersion in this space allows the firm to deliver sophisticated advice on all manner of private equity transactions, including LBOs. Oaktree Capital Management, Shamrock Capital Advisors and The Carlyle Group are all clients of the firm, and its recent highlights include representing Singapore-based Flextronics International in its acquisition of Stellar Microelectronics.

Sources say: "The team brings an incredible quality of work product and ethic to the table that is head and shoulders above other firms with which I have worked." "We are at a distinct advantage when we are represented by Kirkland."

KEY INDIVIDUALS "An extremely talented lawyer and a very skilled negotiator," John Weissenbach is singled out by clients in the private equity world as someone with "great business instincts." Recently, he advised Oaktree Capital Management on its acquisition of Osmose Holdings.

David Breach is "an outstanding professional and an expert in investments, divestments and M&A." Sources say: "His devotion to client service is spectacular – he goes out of his way to be available and to gather the right resources within or outside of the firm to answer any question."

David Dixon "plays the role of quarterback on deals," said one source. Another added: "He is solution-oriented and does a nice job of moving negotiations forward with little need for supervision."

Rick Madden is a recent addition to the team from Skadden. Madden is "always available and highly pragmatic." Madden is a rising star of the private equity arena. 

Intellectual Property - California

THE FIRM This full-service national firm has an active IP litigation practice in its Los Angeles, Palo Alto and San Francisco offices. The team's work includes patent, trademark, copyright, internet and trade secrets cases, as well as transactional matters. Intel is a key client of the firm, as are Oracle, Yahoo! and Apple.

Sources say: "They are strong, hard-working lawyers. No stone will be left unturned on any case."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Luke Dauchot is a key practice contact for the West Coast.

IT & Outsourcing - California

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis is particularly well established in the field of outsourcing and continues to be singled out for its strength in this area. The team has also developed a breadth of experience across the technology sector, and is recognized for its prowess in investments, acquisitions and associated litigation. Lawyers in the firm's San Francisco and Palo Alto offices regularly act on behalf of established and emerging growth companies.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Karen Spindler is a key contact.

Litigation - California

THE FIRM This group is another of the major nationwide litigation firms with a presence on the West Coast, with three offices around California. Sources point out its abilities in class action litigation and this expertise has been brought to bear representing Facebook in a multitude of class action and shareholder claims following the company's IPO in 2012. Other clients include UBS and RBS.

Sources say: "I have enormous confidence when I have them on a case."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Mark McKane practices across a range of complex commercial disputes and has over 15 years' experience in this area. He acted for the special committee of Green Valley Ranch Gaming in an internal investigation relating to suspected illegal financial activity following a recapitalization.

Antitrust - District of Columbia

THE FIRM This solid all-around antitrust practice includes a significant Hart-Scott-Rodino filing presence on the transactional side. It also undertakes a plethora of cases in the pharmaceuticals and energy sectors. Highlights include representing Bristol-Myers Squibb in two acquisitions in the pharmaceuticals arena, worth a combined $9.5 billion.

Sources say: "I always respect Kirkland & Ellis - they have a very good, strong litigation practice, even in regulatory matters."

KEY INDIVIDUALS "Outstanding" of counsel Timothy Muris remains a "very highly regarded" figure within the antitrust world and is particularly praised for his knowledge and connections at the agencies and his work on Hart-Scott-Rodino second requests. He recently represented Teva in its $6.8 billion acquisition of Cephalon.

Clients say they "can really rely on" the "terrific" Mark Kovner for his expertise in merger-related antitrust matters. He recently co-led the team representing NRG Energy in its $1.7 billion acquisition of GenOn Energy.

Christine Wilson is another younger partner at the firm who is establishing a fine reputation for her "take-charge attitude" and "excellent understanding of the law." She co-led on the Bristol-Myers Squibb matter mentioned above.

Corporate/M&A - District of Columbia

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis continues to enjoy a stellar reputation in DC, acting for high-profile clients such as Exelon and MidOcean Partners. The team recently represented Constellation Energy in a highly publicized $7.9 billion merger with Exelon, and now represents the new entity. Kirkland's global capabilities in both mid and large-cap M&A and its private equity prowess are also identified by interviewees as significant strengths offered by the firm.

Sources say: "They do a great volume of transactions and there is very little they haven't seen."

KEY INDIVIDUALS "Force of nature" George Stamas is credited by market observers as having played a key role in the success of the firm in DC. He is typically involved in the largest transactions handled by the team, with recent highlights including advising MidOcean Partners on an investment into pet food manufacturer Freshpet, among other matters.

Mark Director is identified as a talented practitioner with "a really unusual level of business acumen and legal insight." He acts as an "invaluable resource" to clients in strategic negotiations, and recently advised Arlington Capital Partners on its sale of Consolidated Precision Products to Warburg Pincus.  

Andrew Herman has developed a respected practice focusing on LBOs and M&A transactions, among other matters. He recently worked alongside Mark Director on the $660 million acquisition of UK-based SHL by The Corporate Executive Board Company.  

Environment - District of Columbia

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis is well known for its strength in environmental litigation. The team handles disputes relating to Superfund matters, government enforcement actions, toxic tort suits, class actions and challenges to federal and state rulemaking. The group also has expertise in compliance and regulatory work, including waste management, air and water permitting and environmental site investigation and cleanup. Major clients include BP, Tronox, GM and Berry Plastics.

Sources say: "A very reputable, cost-effective firm that delivers high-quality legal advice and representation."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Walter Lohmann enjoys a market-leading reputation for his environmental transactions practice, and is praised as "one of the top transaction lawyers in DC." He advises a number of private equity investment firms on environmental issues arising from acquisitions and divestitures.

Brian Land earns praise for his knowledge of the field and his skills as a negotiator. Recent work highlights include providing cleanup counseling to CF Industries.

Stuart Drake is applauded as "a true expert in the field of US federal and state motor vehicle regulation. He is a tough negotiator with a strong work ethic who delivers quality work and good value for money."

Observer highlight Granta Nakayama as "a top-flight lawyer with especially good insight and experience in matters involving government enforcement." He brings considerable industry experience to his role at the firm.

Intellectual Property - District of Columbia

THE FIRM The DC office of this leading national IP player is probably best known for its strengths in litigation at district court, appellate and ITC levels. The team recently acted for Abbott Laboratories on defending challenges to its use of Revigor in its Ensure line of products. Other prestigious clients include GlaxoSmithKline, IBM and Siemens.

Sources say: "The quality of the work is very, very high."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Gregg LoCascio recently led the team in the aforementioned matter for Abbott. He is a "superb trial lawyer" with "a good talent for talking to our management and taking on board their concerns," according to one interviewee.

Edward Donovan is a veteran of numerous complex, high-stakes patent litigations and has tried cases in the country's most demanding jurisdictions for such matters, such as the Eastern District of Texas and the Northern and Southern Districts of California. Interviewees describe him as "a fine lawyer."

The "very talented" Daniel Attridge has decades of experience in patent infringement, antitrust and unfair competition actions. He has distinguished himself in cases concerning chemical, medical device and pharmaceutical patents.

Litigation - District of Columbia

THE FIRM This renowned firm houses a sizable team of talented attorneys singularly dedicated to litigating complex and high-value disputes. The team demonstrates its broad legal knowledge and versatility by handling cases across a huge array of areas, and is highly regarded for its trial experience. Its recent work includes representing Constellation Energy Group in the defense of multiple shareholder class action suits filed after its announced merger with Exelon. Other notable clients include Hershey, ConocoPhillips and Boeing.

Sources say: "They are very practical lawyers who know the law very well and write brilliant appellate briefs and motions, but also tie advice to what the client wants to do from a business perspective."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Thomas Yannucci has a celebrated commercial litigation practice and offers particular expertise in class actions. He is praised as being "very articulate and business-minded," and continues to defend Hershey in a raft of antitrust actions brought against it. 

Neil Eggleston has a glowing reputation in the litigation arena for his specialist skills in white-collar criminal defense, with clients enthusing: "Neil is a person you definitely want to have fighting your corner." He also renowned for his expertise in securities litigation.

Eugene Assaf is characterized as "an extraordinarily bright, analytical and responsive" commercial litigator who is also "articulate in explaining the law in a way that the layperson can understand." He is able to handle a wide range of cases, with recent highlights including acting for Honeywell in a much-publicized False Claims Act case brought by the DOJ.

Media & Entertainment - District of Columbia

THE FIRM This excellent practice continues to demonstrate strength in the areas of First Amendment, libel and general media issues. It deals predominantly with traditional media entities but continues to expand its work advising online and other new media clients.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Peers describe Thomas Yannucci as a "first-class litigator" who is "smart, experienced and thorough." He maintains a fine track record for class action work in IP, defamation and First Amendment matters.

Antitrust - Illinois

THE FIRM Like many of the leading firms in Illinois, this group has a truly national antitrust scope. Within Chicago, it is frequently seen in the largest class action suits and is widely recognized by peers for its formidable bench strength. Among its numerous litigation highlights it has been defending Bain Capital against a putative nationwide class action suit estimated at $10 billion. Other notable cases include acting for Hitachi on the settlement of the TFT-LCD flat panel class action, which alleged price-fixing, and representing the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in an ongoing nationwide action that could potentially impact some 100 million Americans insured by the BCBSA.

Sources say: "Very good lawyers: on the ball, aggressive and smart. They're on everyone's list."

KEY INDIVIDUALS The terrific James Mutchnik is "very professional, bright and responsive," according to sources. In addition to the Bain Capital and Hitachi cases, his extensive recent resume also includes work for Navistar International against an allegation of monopolization of the heavy-duty truck transmission market, and for EVA Airways, which he represents in three separate civil and criminal antitrust matters.

Daniel Laytin is described as "outstanding" and a "go-to guy" who is particularly praised for his "ability to think and react on his feet while doing an excellent job of staying several steps ahead of the game." Laytin is taking the lead in the BCBSA case.

Andrew Langan is a litigator with wide experience in antitrust work and is currently heavily involved in general commercial litigation on the defense side in the BP Deepwater Horizon case.

David Zott has a "wealth of litigation experience," according to one source. Although he practices in a number of areas, he has been heavily involved in plasma derivative antitrust litigation on behalf of Baxter, as well as playing a significant role in the BCBSA case.

Banking & Finance - Illinois

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis has a strong client base of borrowers and lenders, which it advises on matters from real estate financing through to hedging devices and alternative pricing mechanisms. The team is seen as one of the first ports of call for large and complex deals, as demonstrated by its representation of Madison Dearborn Partners in its sale of TransUnion to Advent International and GS Capital Partners, a $3 billion deal. Other clients include Six Flags Entertainment, Molson Coors Brewing and Bain Capital.

Sources say: "Great practical legal advice." "They really do help think about our particular issues and help us as a management team."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Debt finance group head Linda Myers "does an incredible job and is an incredible attorney," say sources. Of late, she led the team representing Burlington Coat Factory in the refinancing of a term loan, as well as an asset-based lending facility amendment and restatement of maturity. She also led on the Madison Dearborn Partners matter. 

Christopher Butler "knows how lenders think, what they work like, and has a perspective that he brings that many others don't," according to interviewees. His practice has a focus on acquisitions and leveraged financings, and in a recent highlight he led the team acting for Infor Global Solutions in the refinancing of its senior debt. Sources also particularly commend his work ethic.

Michelle Kilkenney represents borrowers and lenders in all matters relating to secured and unsecured financing transactions. Observers comment that she "knows how to make a deal," and also applaud her practicality, market knowledge and efficiency.

Maureen Sweeney is singled out by sources for her well thought-out responses and creative, solution-oriented approach. Her practice covers the gamut of financing transactions, including mezzanine and subordinated debt issues.

Michael Wright represents private equity groups and corporate borrowers in a broad range of matters. He recently led the team representing VWR Funding and Madison Dearborn Partners in the amendment and extension of a series of US and European loans and revolving credit, a $1.1 billion deal.

Bankruptcy/Restructuring - Illinois

THE FIRM Kirkland's Chicago restructuring group maintains its outstanding reputation in the bankruptcy and restructuring arena. The firm has a preeminent debtor-side practice, and a widely respected creditor-side caseload. The team's work representing Apple during Eastman Kodak’s bankruptcy in a dispute over patents is a notable example of recent highlights. The firm also acted for Hawker Beechcraft in its Chapter 11 proceedings. The team is also noted for its superb out-of-court restructuring expertise. It has considerable experience in many different industries including aviation, shipping, and a variety of other transportation types, as well as in the energy, media, real estate, oil and gas, and chemical sectors.

Sources say: “Number-one law firm in the world for restructuring.” “The most sought-after team in the USA for both debtors and creditors.”

KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources recommend James Sprayregen for his “gravitas and wisdom,” and as a seasoned bankruptcy specialist. He has a formidable presence in the market representing leading companies in complex out-of-court restructurings and bankruptcy situations. He also represents both buyers and sellers of distressed assets in a variety of industry sectors.

The “terrific restructuring lawyer” Anup Sathy is experienced in acting for a wide range of clients in restructurings, workouts and reorganizations. He has recently worked on some of the group's most significant restructuring matters including its representations of Centerbridge Partners and YRC Worldwide.

Patrick Nash has a “great presence” in the sector and is described by sources as “well-rounded and good at everything.” He works with a variety of clients in matters involving debt restructurings, reorganizations, troubled M&A and other financing issues. Nash recently acted for Black Diamond Capital Management on the restructuring of GSC Group.

David Eaton represents debtors, financial institutions, bondholders, unsecured creditors and committees in a range of restructuring and bankruptcy-related matters. He is known as a “quality and driven attorney” who is able to “take large cases and manage them with very little support.”

David Seligman is noted for his “extraordinary knowledge and responsiveness.” He regularly becomes involved in the group's most notable cases, including its recent representation of Apple during Eastman Kodak's bankruptcy, and Corus Bankshares in its restructuring matters.

James Stempel recently represented Friendly Ice Cream Corporation in its Chapter 11 cases, in which the business emerged from bankruptcy just three months after filing. He is described by observers as a “wonderful lawyer.

Corporate/M&A - Illinois

THE FIRM This impressive and comprehensive practice remains at the market's vanguard, and handles all aspects of M&A and private equity matters. Recently, the group represented Accel-KKR Capital Partners in the $1 billion sale of Endurance International to Warburg Pincus Private Equity and Goldman Sachs. In a further highlight, the team acted for Bain Capital on its acquisition of Physio-Control, a $487 million deal. The group's stellar client portfolio also includes Sun Capital Partners, Baxter International and The Boeing Company.

Sources say: "Kirkland has knocked my socks off." "They have every corner of the market absolutely nailed. They man the corporate market with such force you're never going to ask a question that someone hasn't asked before."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Jon Ballis handles sophisticated commercial transactions, including private investment in public equity (PIPE) and strategic mergers. "He does a nice job of bringing all the different pieces together," notes one enthusiastic source, who goes on to describe him as "very practical and very strong in deal work."

The "exceptional" Scott Falk is "thoughtful and has great judgment." He is well versed in securities offerings and M&A, and recently led the team acting for Molson Coors Brewing on its agreement to acquire StarBev.

The "obviously terrific" Sanford Perl has a broad-based practice that encompasses IPOs, debt and equity restructurings, and fund formation. Sources commend him for his ability "to communicate very complex issues with very few words." Recently, he acted for KRG Capital Partners on its investment in Ansira Partners.

Stephen Ritchie undertakes sophisticated business transactions, within which he places an emphasis on leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations, workouts and M&A. In a recent highlight, he led the team advising GTCR on its high-value acquisition of CAMP Systems International.

Matthew Steinmetz handles transactional cases and is noted for his fund formation strengths. Sources appreciate his ability to take a commercial perspective and stay levelheaded in matters. 

Douglas Gessner's practice includes representing venture capital and private equity sponsors across the spectrum of investment matters, and he comes recommended for his expertise in leveraged buyouts and fund formation matters. He recently acted on behalf of the Friendly Ice Cream Corporation in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy and sale to Sun Capital Partners.

Walter Holzer focuses on leveraged buyouts, in addition to divestitures and M&A. In a recent highlight, he represented Cardno in its $106 million merger with ATC Group Holdings. Sources single out his "expertise, common-sense approach and commerciality in the M&A space," and also appreciate his ability to understand the needs of the client.

Sources are quick to assert the "impressive" Edward Schneidman's "great judgment." His practice covers the spectrum of securities and corporate law, and he is sought for his wide-ranging experience in public offering activities for companies with a real estate focus.

The seasoned Jeffrey Hammes continues to enjoy an excellent reputation in the market, and is well versed in matters involving the structuring and negotiation of sophisticated commercial transactions.

Insurance - Illinois

THE FIRM This market-leading firm has a wealth of experience in disputes involving sophisticated insurance programs and high-stakes coverage litigation involving a range of professional and product liability claims among other issues. Key policyholder clients include Abbott Laboratories, Boeing and Aon. The practice has recently acted in coverage litigation for Viking Pump against multiple insurers regarding liability claims for asbestos products.

Sources say: "These guys will travel anywhere and do consistently great work."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Nader Boulos worked on behalf of TOUSA against 12 D&O insurers in a high-value coverage action. Sources recommend him as "a very skillful litigator and strategist who is extremely smart and creative and very responsive."

Michael Foradas is known for being "a fantastic lawyer and good litigator who gives good business advice." He has a specific focus on insurance coverage as part of a broad litigation practice.

Intellectual Property - Illinois

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis retains its impressive reputation for patent litigation. The firm's ability to match national firm resources with litigation expertise rivaling specialist IP shops makes it one of the standout practices in the Chicago market. The team recently acted for Pfizer, defending a patent infringement and defeating a temporary restraining order on a pharmaceutical product. Other key clients include IBM, BlackBerry, and Dyson.

Sources say: "A very good firm that you hear a lot of in IP cases. They did a nice job – very professional and very good to work with."

KEY INDIVIDUALS The deeply experienced Kenneth Adamo is "someone that everyone knows in the IP world," with market sources praising his "great court skills." His recent highlights include advising IBM on a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Financial Systems Technology.

Russell Levine recently represented Coskata in a trade secret and tortious interference dispute with INEOS, reaching an out-of-court settlement after counterclaim.

William Streff is known as a "high-power, recognized individual in the IP community." He has extensive experience in computer, telecom, semiconductor and fuel system technologies.

Litigation - Illinois

THE FIRM This superb team has a well-earned reputation for its ability to handle difficult, high-profile and high-stakes cases. The team has acted for Abbott Laboratories in a series of cases concerning the drug Humira. In the white-collar crime and government investigations space, Kirkland is one of the firms leading the defense of BP in the plethora of investigations stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Other A-list clients include ExxonMobil and Dow Chemical. 

Sources say: "They are creative and strategic on substantive legal issues."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Mark Filip has a key role in Kirkland's defense of BP in the Deepwater Horizon matters. Sources say he is "one of the brightest people out there." Observers go on to praise his strategic thinking and comment that he is just "terrific." 

Richard Godfrey is also closely involved in the firm's work for BP. He has an outstanding reputation for commercial litigation, including class actions and appellate work.

Robert Kopecky recently defended GM and its board of directors in a securities class action. He is seen by some sources as "one of the leading securities lawyers."

Emily Nicklin well known for her litigation skills. She focuses her practice on torts, employment discrimination, professional liability and contract law. She has represented Medtronic in a securities fraud action.

Sallie Smylie specializes in litigation involving pharmaceutical and medical device product liability. She is also very experienced defending corporate clients in a wide range of class actions. 

Real Estate - Illinois

THE FIRM Transactional real estate is at the heart of Kirkland & Ellis's practice and the group handles related matters nationwide and internationally. The team specializes in first mortgages, REIT formation and joint ventures of all types, and has a strong line in restructuring work. A recent work highlight for the firm was representing Equity LifeStyle Properties in its acquisition of a large portfolio of home communities, a $1.43 billion deal. Its client portfolio also includes Archstone, Square Mile Capital Management, LaSalle Investment Management and KKR.

Sources say: "Excellent lawyers."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Daniel Perlman is an "effective real estate lawyer," say market observers. He has a strong focus on real estate financing of all kinds and advises lenders and borrowers on related matters. 

Andrew Small focuses his practice on commercial real estate and related financing and development. Sources comment that he is "a hell of a lawyer" and are appreciative of his approach.

Rachel Brown concentrates on real estate finance and associated matters, including workouts and foreclosures.  

Tax - Illinois

THE FIRM The Chicago team of this international giant undertakes tax planning on transactions as well as controversy issues challenged by the IRS or overseas state tax entities. In a recent highlight it acted for Bain Capital on its acquisition of Securitas Direct from a private equity firm for $3.4 billion. Other clients in the team's impressive portfolio include Archstone, Constellation Energy, Walton Street Capital and Tronox Incorporated.

Sources say: "Not only are you getting the best expertise and advice, but it's from a group that are enjoyable to work with." 

KEY INDIVIDUALS Todd Maynes enjoys a fine reputation in the market, and is routinely called upon to handle tax litigation, debt restructuring and bankruptcy. According to one impressed interviewee, he is "one of those standout individuals where you have total faith that he's giving great advice."

The "excellent" Donald Rocap handles transactional tax work and is an expert in matters concerning private equity fund formation. He is "incredibly intelligent and creative in terms of how to tackle problems," notes one source.

Clients say that Jeffrey Sheffield is "the consummate tax attorney and has excellent judgment on tax issues." He is particularly praised by sources for his work involving M&A and tax planning for publicly traded companies.

"Excellent lawyer" William Welke undertakes work involving sophisticated corporate transactions, and also maintains a fine track record in tax controversy matters. 

Rising star Natalie Keller is well versed in all areas of tax controversy, including IRS matters, and is also noted for her expertise in transfer pricing matters.

Gregory Gallagher undertakes work on transactional tax matters in the domestic and international arenas. He recently led the team acting for Bain Capital on its $487 million purchase of Physio-Control.

Technology - Illinois

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis is well known as a pioneer in the outsourcing market, and the practice remains a group of choice for companies seeking advice on complex procurement initiatives, supply chain management and ITO and BPO transactions. Its lawyers represent both customers and vendors in matters that arise throughout the outsourcing cycle. Key clients include CIGNA and Goldman Sachs.

Sources say: "They are very smart and very practical. I count on them to deliver great results and they do. They are consummate professionals who listen to, and understand the needs of, their clients."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice chair Gregg Kirchhoefer "has the command of the room and the respect of everyone," note interviewees, who also view him as "a real go-to guy for the tough issues." He has a keen expertise in technology-related transactions, which builds upon his previous experience in the computer industry.

"Thought leader" Neil Hirshman is applauded for the realistic nature of his advice: "Some tell the client what they want to hear – he will tell you his honest view and assessment." He practices at a domestic and international level and is recognized for his expertise in complex outsourcing and licensing and development transactions. Recent work highlights include structuring and completing the last of seven outsourcing transactions for National Grid.

Dan Lewis is described as "the best associate" by one enthusiastic source. He is building a name for himself in IP and technology-based transactions, with sources commending the quality of his work on strategic alliances, outsourcing deals and licensing agreements.

Advertising - Nationwide

THE FIRM The advertising team at this international firm is part of its large national IP department. The team's skilled and experienced litigators handle a variety of advertising matters, representing clients before the FTC and in state and federal courts. It also has extensive experience both defending and challenging NAD claims. Key clients include DIRECTV, Abbott Laboratories and American Standard Brands.

Sources say: "An amazing team."

KEY INDIVIDUALS The team is led by Chicago-based Ross Weisman.

Antitrust - Nationwide

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis maintains an impressive presence in nationwide antitrust, with strong offices in both Chicago and Washington, DC. The Washington, DC branch is particularly respected for its expertise in transactional matters and has been involved in such major recent matters as acting for Constellation Energy Group on its $7.9 billion merger with Exelon. The firm is also lauded for its litigation expertise, having recently represented, for example, Bain Capital Partners in a putative class action alleging fixing of stock prices.

Sources say: "They were outstanding, not only at addressing the issues of the day, but also planning carefully and anticipating problems down the line."

KEY INDIVIDUALS The leading lawyers in this practice group include Timothy Muris and Mark Kovner in Washington, DC, and James Mutchnik and Daniel Laytin in Illinois.

Appellate Law - Nationwide

THE FIRM This large group is adept at handling appellate cases in every possible setting, including the Supreme Court, and state and federal appellate courts. The team purposefully maintains a broad-based approach to litigation, and so can offer an impressive set of skills across a wide range of cases and industries. Current clients range from Barr Pharmaceuticals to Morgan Stanley.

Client Service "One of the great things about this firm is that if you're hiring them in a new area they catch up very quickly. They are very adaptable and flexible, and are very open to dialogue."

Commercial Awareness "They are very practical lawyers who know the law extremely well, write brilliant appellate briefs and motions, and try to tie in advice to what the client wants to do from a business perspective."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Christopher Landau is singled out as a "superb appellate attorney" who is "a very effective advocate, both orally and in written briefs." His recent work includes achieving a significant result for client Morgan Stanley in the Supreme Court in a long-running case concerning Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Banking & Finance - Nationwide

THE FIRM Kirkland's banking and finance group is an acknowledged presence in the market as counsel to an array of private equity firms, with whom the practice enjoys strong standing. The group's standout deals this year display an array of strengths in areas such as acquisition finance, complex restructuring and refinancing matters. Key work includes its representation of Kerzner International Holdings in a $4 billion out-of-court restructuring.  

Commercial Awareness "They are bright guys who know the market well. They represent a lot of sponsors, from big to small, so they know this work inside and out. The breadth of deals they do is incredible - they have seen it all."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Jay Ptashek has a strong presence in the market and elicits particular praise for his "very commercial" approach to matters. He is noted for his strength in sponsor side representation and also has significant expertise in the leverage finance space.    

Chicago-based Linda Myers is singled out as possessing "the relevant experience and a great demeanor in negotiations." She recently completed a $1.135 billion refinancing for theme park company Six Flags Entertainment.

Bankruptcy/Restructuring - Nationwide

THE FIRM This powerhouse financial restructuring practice has preeminent teams operating out of Chicago and New York. The depth and experience in this group is renowned throughout the US and globally, with the group primed to undertake large-scale, complex debtor-side representations in particular. It also stables increasingly recognized creditor-side expertise. The group's notable highlights include representing well-known aviation businesses Hawker Beechcraft and Global Aviation Holdings in their respective Chapter 11 bankruptcies. It has also successfully completed a number of high-value out-of-court restructurings, including engagements for Barneys New York and luxury resort developer Kerzner International.

Client Service "They worked around our time and our hours but at the same time they were always available to us. They were very good at understanding our business and the sensitivity of the industry – that got us through the bankruptcy a lot quicker."

Commercial Awareness "There is a depth of experience; the team provides a wide range of expertise and has seen and done just about everything. A strength of theirs is making win-win deals; understanding the desires and needs of all parties but particularly their client." 

KEY INDIVIDUALS Richard Cieri is one of the more senior partners in the group, with sources noting that "he has been around a long time and has great market recognition." He is described by interviewees as "outstanding, creative and effective." He is currently advising Hawker Beechcraft on its Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

James Sprayregen is one of the leading practitioners in the industry. He divides his time between Kirkland's Chicago and New York offices. Clients look to him as someone who is "providing leadership and strategic guidance on the big issues." "Tireless and very creative," Sprayregen is described as "very good in complicated and difficult situations."

Paul Basta recently represented Barneys New York and Kerzner International during their respective out-of-court restructurings. He is praised as a "very effective lawyer who is practical in his approach."

As part of "the next generation of leaders," Jonathan Henes has built his name on the back of exemplary successes for his clients. He has been "very active with a strong presence" during the past year, with highlights including his representation of Global Aviation Holdings in its $495 million bankruptcy proceedings.

Marc Kieselstein recently represented women's fashion retailer United Retail Group in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. He is given "the highest marks" by interviewees who praise him for "adding clarity and humor to what can be a dreadful experience." 

The "very smart and practical" Anup Sathy continues to develop a reputation as a prominent player in the market. He garners respect as "a great negotiator – he is personable and knows how to talk to a business guy and structure things." 

Edward Sassower is a "professional, business-savvy deal-maker." He is an accomplished practitioner with broad-ranging expertise.

Capital Markets - Nationwide

THE FIRM The team at this firm is particularly praised by sources for its representation of private equity funds and their affiliate companies on debt and equity transactions including high-yield debt matters. Recent highlights include advising Clear Channel Outdoor on its issue of $2.2 billion senior subordinated notes due 2020 by its subsidiary, Clear Channel Worldwide. Other key clients include Apax, Avis Budget and Kellogg.

Client Service "They are very prompt and accommodate us no matter how unfair our timetable is."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Joshua Korff is "highly smart," "highly practical" and is commended by sources for his business-minded approach to issues. He has notable expertise in public and private financings.

Capital Markets - Nationwide

THE FIRM This firm is recognized for its representation of issuers of ABS, particularly those backed by vehicle assets. It is also held in high regard for its underwriter-side practice. Recent highlights include representing Barclays Capital in two offerings and Citigroup Global Markets in one offering of term securities backed by dealer floorplan receivables originated by Ford Motor Credit.

Sources say: "I am impressed with the depth of their knowledge, their response speed and the fact that they give very good advice."

KEY INDIVIDUALS "Fantastic attorney" Kenneth Morrison is "extremely intellectual" but is also praised for speaking in a language businesspeople understand. His highlights include advising Ally Bank and Ally Financial on the $1.2 billion Ally Auto Receivables Trust series 2012-3.

Climate Change - Nationwide

THE FIRM Kirkland's climate change group is renowned for its expertise in complex litigation, and regularly acts on behalf of clients in criminal, administrative and civil matters, including toxic tort, Superfund and environmental class actions. The team successfully defended ConocoPhillips in a high-profile case in which the plaintiffs were seeking damages for the alleged effects of global warming on the Alaskan coast. The firm also acts for GM, Suzuki and the US Chamber of Commerce.

Client Service "We could not have asked for better client service."

KEY INDIVIDUALS The "really smart" Stuart Drake is highly thought of in the industry. He is a skilled litigator, and has substantial experience advising companies whose products are affected by EPA air pollution control regulations.  

Corporate/M&A - Nationwide

THE FIRM Having firmly established itself as a driving force on the national M&A scene, Kirkland continues to assert its strength across its New York, California, Washington, DC and Illinois bases. It invites mandates from some of the most active and distinguished players in the market, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Teva and Burger King Worldwide. Marquee private equity clients also flock to this firm for guidance on major transactions; Kirkland recently acted for Bain Capital on its $1.6 billion purchase of Apex Tool Group, and for Oaktree Capital Management and JSA International Holdings on the $1.4 billion disposal of Jackson Square to Mitsubishi.     

Client Service "Client service is also great as the team is always available regardless of hour. We get high-level partner attention when needed, but less vital work is appropriately shared with junior resources to help defray costs."

Commercial Awareness "They are most commercially minded, and are able to think like me better than any other group I work with."

KEY INDIVIDUALS New York partners David Fox and Daniel Wolf are key members of the corporate team.

Energy & Natural Resources - Nationwide

THE FIRM This firm draws plaudits for its transactional expertise in the electricity space, and has been involved in some truly significant work over the past year. It has handled a number of matters for NRG Energy, including advising it on a $3 billion refinancing matter, as well as assisting with its purchase of Energy Plus Holdings, a large, independent energy company. Other clients include National Grid, BP Pipelines and Constellation Energy.

Sources say: "They are as always doing a fantastic job for us. They have very talented, efficient lawyers."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Woods is a key contact.

Environment - Nationwide

THE FIRM The environmental group at this firm excels in major litigation, offering clients a wealth of trial experience at the local, state and federal levels. The team also comes highly recommended for its skill in transactional matters. Recent highlights include its representation of Berry Plastics in its acquisition of LINPAC Packaging Filmco. The team's impressive client list also includes Dow Chemical, GM and BP.

Sources say: "They're a good team; it's always a pleasure to work with them."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Granta Nakayama works out of the firm's Washington, DC office. His expertise includes representing clients in Congressional matters and agency rulemakings, as well as regulatory litigation and enforcement defense.

Intellectual Property - Nationwide

THE FIRM One of the top IP practices in the country, this group is known in particular for taking on heavyweight, precedent-setting cases. It has a nationwide structure and so staffs matters from the pick of its offices across the country. The firm's already muscular patent litigation practice, traditionally weighted toward high-technology electronics, has in recent years been boosted by the recruitment of top partners specializing in life sciences. Its clients range from the Associated Press, Colgate-Palmolive and Fox Entertainment to IBM and the Tetris Company. 

Commercial Awareness "Everyone there knows what's going on, and we get answers really quickly. From a strategy perspective they are one of the most creative firms."

KEY INDIVIDUALS William Streff, one of the cochairs of the IP practice, is based in Chicago, while Robert Krupka in Los Angeles is one of the firm's premier IP litigators.

International Trade - Nationwide

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis represents an impressive array of technology industry clients as both complainants and respondents. The team advised Cisco Systems on several cases, including one claim brought by a patent licensing firm and another brought by ChriMar Systems. In other highlights, the firm achieved a successful result for IBM in a dispute over the alleged infringement of two patents.

Sources say: "An excellent firm which I'd happily refer others to."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Gregory Arovas joins the rankings this year following strong feedback from interviewees, who describe him as "really a superb lawyer."

Investment Funds - Nationwide

THE FIRM Kirkland's fund formation team stands out for its stellar relationships with numerous private equity luminaries such as Golden Gate Capital, CVC and Starwood Capital Group. It is frequently the recipient of complex and cutting-edge mandates, and is particularly noted for its ability to handle global work due to its seamless integration across all offices in its network. Capitalizing on its impressive capabilities in fund formation, Kirkland has developed leading emerging markets and secondaries practices in order to best serve clients in the constantly evolving private equity landscape. The team's work is supported by sophisticated tax, ERISA and regulatory lawyers throughout the firm.  

Client Service "They are extremely smart and thoughtful. I'm constantly amazed at the response time, the thoughtfulness and how quickly they provide really good advice on anything I ask them."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Bruce Ettelson's clients are consistently impressed with his thorough and dedicated approach, praising him as an "authority on private equity fund work and structuring." He recently acted on the Golden Gate Capital Opportunity Fund's final closing, which raised approximately $3.7 billion in commitments.

"Phenomenal lawyer" John O'Neil is acknowledged for his strong track record representing large sponsors. Water Street Healthcare Partners selected him to guide its buyout fund to a $750 million final closing.  

Chris Kallos offers experience in representing clients on both the sponsor and investor side. He acts for some of the firm's largest clients in a wide range of private equity fund activity, including formation, spin-outs and investments.  

Sarah Kirson is praised for her leadership abilities, with one source describing her as "extraordinarily effective." A recent highlight saw her acting on behalf of Symphony Technology Group on its $871 million buyout fund.

New York-based Andrew Wright is praised by one client as being "a genuine partner in our business." He is highlighted as being an "extraordinarily knowledgeable and responsive" attorney, who "stands out for his breadth of expertise."

Life Sciences - Nationwide

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis works with life sciences clients on M&A, antitrust litigation, product liability litigation, licensing and regulatory matters. The firm has a well-regarded IP litigation practice, bolstered by the recent addition of six former Kaye Scholer lawyers, including patent and appellate litigator Leora Ben-Ami. Key clients include Pfizer, Teva, Bristol-Myers Squibb and GlaxoSmithKline.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Leora Ben-Ami is an IP specialist and "fantastic trial lawyer," whose practice covers pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, chemistry and medical devices. One client comments: "I have immense confidence in her presenting cases, taking very complex concepts and making them understandable for judge and jury."

Outsourcing - Nationwide

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis continues to be respected as a strong presence in the outsourcing field. The team recently represented National Grid in the completion of a series ITO transactions dating back to 2009, and also represented Xchanging as the vendor in a high-value outsourcing agreement with BAE Systems. Other key clients include Goldman Sachs and Cigna.

Client Service "From a client perspective they just do a fantastic job of training lawyers to be business-minded and responsive. This is important and rare."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Neil Hirshman's "excellent business judgment" and "realistic advice" show an understanding of the market that is valued by those who work with him. His practice is focused on IP and technology-related transactions such as the ITO matters for National Grid.

Group leader Gregg Kirchhoefer stands out as "a real go-to guy for the tough issues." Interviewees think very highly of him, noting that "he commands the room and the respect of everyone." He advises on technology, IP and communications-focused matters.

Private Equity - Nationwide

THE FIRM This market-leading private equity team continues to enjoy a fine reputation in the field, and represents a significant volume of high-end and midmarket funds. Notable recent highlights for the group include representing Bain Capital in its acquisition of Apex Tool Group, valued at $1.6 billion. The team also acted on behalf of Spectrum Equity Fund as part of a buyout group led by Permira in connection with the $1.6 billion acquisition of Ancestry.com.

Sources say: "Very responsive and commercial, and very thorough in their work."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Jeffrey Hammes enjoys a strong reputation among peers, and concentrates his practice on complex business transactions, including leveraged buyouts and private equity compensation matters.

Douglas Gessner represents private equity and venture capital sponsors in a wide range of matters, including leveraged buyouts, growth equity investments and recapitalizations. 

Products Liability - Nationwide

THE FIRM Market commentators applaud this firm's litigation capabilities and deep bench of experienced trial lawyers. Toxic torts, pharmaceutical, tobacco and aviation work are some of the areas in which the group has particular expertise. It serves as nationwide counsel for Abbott in litigation concerning allegations that the company failed to warn about severe side effects from its drug Humira. Other key clients include BP America, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Boeing.

Sources say: "They deliver not only thoughtful but also practical advice. They are at the top of my list in terms of go-to firms."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Andrew McGaan garners praise for his advocacy skills, with one source commenting that he is "good on his feet and a good person to work with." He is particularly known for his tobacco work. He acts for R.J. Reynolds on the recovery of contested reductions in its yearly payments under the Tobacco Litigation Master Settlement Agreement.

Leslie Smith is another talented litigator highly regarded in the pharmaceuticals sector. "She absolutely spoils me in terms of how accommodating and easy to work with she is. She is very good at understanding our strategic goals and working towards achieving them," reports a client.

Real Estate - Nationwide

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis is rated for its expertise in the real estate funds space. It represents prominent private equity fund sponsors, pension organizations, investors and sovereign wealth funds, among others. The team recently assisted General Growth Properties with the formation of a joint venture with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for the $500 million acquisition of St. Louis shopping center Plaza Frontenac. Other key clients include Garrison Investment Group, Archstone and Equity Lifestyle Investments.

Commercial Awareness "They are responsive and commercially oriented – they focus on the context of the transaction, and on getting it done."

 KEY INDIVIDUALS Key contacts include Daniel Perlman and Andrew Small in Chicago.

Securities - Nationwide

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Tax - Nationwide

THE FIRM The Kirkland & Ellis tax team has had a busy year, particularly with regards to structuring, private equity and finance matters. The firm's superb Chicago and New York teams provide it with a breadth of practice that sees it attract big-name clients such as Tronox and NRG Energy, and also ensures that the group maintains its national reputation. The tax practice has great expertise in tax planning, and is also highlighted for its knowledge of restructuring matters. 

Client Service "Excellent, and very responsive." "Great customer service."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Todd Maynes heads up the department from the firm's New York office. In Chicago, notable practitioners include Natalie Keller and Jeffrey Sheffield.

Transportation - Nationwide

THE FIRM This firm has a noted degree of expertise in complex aviation disputes, regularly acting for airlines, aircraft manufacturers and component manufacturers in accident and product liability cases. Clients include Boeing, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

Sources say: "Very good analytically; the lawyers are superb writers and very good practical strategists."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Craig Primis is a key contact.

Wealth Management - Nationwide

THE FIRM This Chicago-based private client practice earns praise for the high quality of its work. The lean and efficient team focuses on providing high net worth clients with tailored and sophisticated advice. It is strongly supported by one of the country's leading private equity practices, resulting in significant mandates to advise private equity principals on their various asset planning needs. It also currently represents several large families in their respective transactions.

Sources say: "The team has done an excellent job – very thorough, detailed and knowledgeable."

KEY INDIVIDUALS David Handler in Chicago is the firm's leading practitioner in the private client field. He is highly rated by clients, one of whom explains: "We enjoy working with him – he has a tremendous intellect and great judgment, is very detail and risk-oriented, and has tremendous technical knowledge."

Bankruptcy/Restructuring - New York

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis is internationally renowned as one of the deepest and most successful restructuring groups in the country. The team offers a comprehensive array of experts covering every aspect of distressed and restructuring situation, nationally and internationally. Kirkland is particularly recognized for large-scale debtor-side representations, with roles in a number of the nation's most significant bankruptcies in recent years. Highlights include advising prominent aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft, as well as Global Aviation Holdings, in their respective Chapter 11 bankruptcies. The team has also advised on high-value out-of-court restructurings for Barneys New York and luxury resort developer Kerzner International. 

Sources say: "They worked around our time and our hours, but at the same time they were always available to us. They were very good at understanding our business and the sensitivity of the industry - that got us through the bankruptcy a lot quicker." "There is a depth of experience; the team provides a wide range of expertise, and has seen and done just about everything." 

KEY INDIVIDUALS The "spectacular" Richard Cieri is described as a "real rainmaker" by interviewees, many of whom recognize that "he has been around along time and has great market recognition." His recent highlights include representing Hawker Beechcraft in its aforementioned Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. He is also representing Ally Financial and Ally Bank during the large-scale bankruptcy of its wholly owned mortgage subsidiary, Residential Capital (ResCap). 

James Sprayregen is among the most respected bankruptcy attorneys in the country, with interviewees describing him as "tireless and very creative. He is very good in complicated and difficult situations - he just knows how to work the process on the legal side and, more importantly, the deal side of it. He balances those dynamics well." Sprayregen splits his time between the firm's Chicago and New York offices.

Paul Basta receives praise as a "very effective lawyer who is practical in his approach," and is described as "incredible when it comes to court and credibility with the judges." He has played leading roles in a number of the firm's most significant bankruptcy matters, having recently advised both Barneys New York and Kerzner International on high-value out-of-court restructurings. 

Commentators describe Jonathan Henes as one of the "next generation of leaders" in the industry. He continues to build his prominent profile, recently representing Global Aviation Holdings in connection with its $495 million Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Interviewees describe him as "very active, with a strong presence."

Clients give Marc Kieselstein "the highest marks" for his superb and personable approach, with many commenting on his excellent responsiveness and ability to "add clarity and humor to what can be a dreadful experience." His recent highlights include advising women's fashion retailer United Retail Group in relation to its Chapter 11 restructuring.

Edward Sassower continues to build on his reputation as a "professional, business savvy deal-maker." "He has shown a good soft touch to clients," report interviewees, "and has a good relationship with all the other professionals as well, which transcends the adversarial aspect of the case." Sassower operates across the spectrum of bankruptcy-related issues.

The "extremely smart, capable and responsive" Joshua Sussberg played an integral role in the out-of-court restructurings of Barneys New York and Kerzner International. He advises clients on all types of bankruptcy issues.

Corporate/M&A - New York

THE FIRM This M&A group acts on the full range of corporate and transactional matters for strategic buyers and private equity groups, and has established a reputation for working on unsolicited bids and hostile takeovers. The team advises Bristol-Myers Squibb, Burger King Worldwide and Avis Budget Group, among others. Recent highlights include handling NRG's $4.1 billion acquisition of GenOn Energy. 

Sources say: "They have the talent to assist companies in all aspects of business and legal strategies." "It's a terrific firm to work with."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Department head David Fox is widely praised for his expertise in public company M&A. Commentators say he is a "no-nonsense" lawyer who "helps clients get their transaction done in an expeditious way." He recently led on Bristol-Myers Squibb's $7 billion acquisition of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, and on its $3.4 billion agreement to collaborate post-closing with AstraZeneca on developing Amylin.

Sources commend Daniel Wolf for providing "comprehensive, unembellished and strong tactical negotiating advice." Others add he has "an encyclopedic mind as it relates to the law," and is "utterly tireless." He recently led a team representing Tronox in its $3.4 billion acquisition of industrial sands operations from Exxaro Resources.

Stephen Fraidin is particularly commended for his expertise in board governance and his "unique ability to articulate and manage difficult, complex issues and problems." He recently advised the special committee to the board of directors of Expedia on Expedia's announced spin-off of TripAdvisor.

Rising star Leo Greenberg is held in high regard by market sources. Clients praise him as "commercial, extremely hard-working and extremely relationship-focused."

Also up-and-coming is William Sorabella, whom clients have described as "extremely creative, highly commercial and very much willing to step outside the box." He recently acted for Solutia alongside Fox on its $4.7 billion acquisition by Eastman Chemical Company.

Sarkis Jebejian recently joined the firm from Cravath. Clients say he is a "commercially astute, responsive" lawyer who "can put together a high-quality legal team on very short notice to handle any project." He recently represented BAE Systems in the sale of Safariland to a Kanders & Company-affiliated acquisition vehicle.

Intellectual Property - New York

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis continues to go from strength to strength as a top destination for leading companies looking for representation across the spectrum of IP law. Its patent litigation offering, already one of the best with regards to hi-tech and electronics, has bolstered its pharmaceuticals and medical devices expertise in recent years. The New York office is also home to one of the city's leading copyright, trademark and branding practices.

Sources say: "From a strategy perspective, they are one of the most creative firms."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Leora Ben-Ami is considered one of the best-known pharmaceutical patent litigators in the country, and the firm continues to count its blessings for having welcomed her into its ranks. Sources praise her "excellent" strategic thinking and her practical, plain-speaking approach.

Dale Cendali chairs the firm's copyright, trademark, internet and advertising practice group. As one of the most celebrated lawyers in this field in the country, she is something of a talismanic figure for the firm, and has an enviable client roster which includes Fox Entertainment Group, JK Rowling and Disney. 

Gregory Arovas is, according to sources, a "superb lawyer" and a "go-to" for in-house counsel at some of the world's best-known technology companies. He has argued sophisticated patent cases before district and federal courts, and the ITC in DC.

Steven Cherny is an IP litigator other lawyers would "recommend in a heartbeat," and is valued by clients for being "very effective at quickly grasping issues and boiling down what they mean to the case, their implications on long-term strategy as well as short-term goals." 

Claudia Ray is a copyright, internet law, trademark and unfair competition specialist with a particular emphasis on the consumer products, financial services, hi-tech, and media and entertainment sectors.

Litigation - New York

THE FIRM There is no doubt that Kirkland has a leading nationwide litigation practice, and its New York office is another example of this strength. Its attorneys are highly skilled at trial and appellate levels, and offer an impressive breadth of expertise across a wide range of commercial dispute types. The team also focuses on white-collar criminal defense and securities litigation, while maintaining strength in numerous other areas, including product liability and environmental disputes. Key clients include UBS Financial Services, CIGNA and Facebook.

Sources say: "They are extremely consistent, deliver a high-quality work product and are very easy to work with. Their advice isn't just thoughtful but practical too."

KEY INDIVIDUALS William Pratt is an extremely experienced commercial litigator, and is highly praised for his trial expertise. His recent work includes successfully representing Verizon in a jury trial relating to environmental tort claims. "He has very creative arguments," said one impressed source, "and is able to respond to any questions that are put to him as he has instant access to the facts of the law - he has a gift!"

Jay Lefkowitz is held in high regard by commentators for his impressive trial and appellate expertise, and is considered a "master strategist and tactician." Clients particularly value his dedicated commitment to cases and the experience he brings as a "brilliant Supreme Court advocate."  

Andrew Genser is a noted white-collar criminal defense litigator, and is held in high regard for his dedication to client service. His recent work has seen him represent companies and individuals in significant investigations and litigation.

Sources commend Joseph Serino as a "great trial lawyer" who "has a command of every aspect of a case." He is particularly noted for his experience in the securities litigation space, and has represented a wide range of financial services clients.

Media & Entertainment - New York

THE FIRM This international firm houses a formidable litigation team noted for its trial experience. The team is known for its outstanding expertise in copyright, trademark, patent and advertising disputes. It advises some of the entertainment industry's leading individuals and corporations, including JK Rowling, the Associated Press and Fox Entertainment, the latter of which it is currently defending in a copyright infringement claim.

Sources say: “A first-rate firm with a great trial litigation and patent practice.”

KEY INDIVIDUALS Dale Cendali is a formidable litigator, considered one of the best in her field. She has been litigating some of the most prominent IP cases for various media giants, and is currently leading the team in the aforementioned copyright lawsuit for Fox.

Real Estate - New York

THE FIRM This firm's real estate practice offers particular experience in advising major real estate private equity funds, and guides clients through joint ventures, financing transactions and debt restructuring. The team recently acted for Starwood Capital on the formation of a joint venture and the subsequent acquisition of seven shopping malls from Westfield Group. An impressive client list also includes Kerzner International Holdings, Archstone and Lubert-Adler Partners.

Sources say: "They are respectful of their client's time and they're well organized. It's a pleasure to work with the Kirkland people." "Very creative and very available."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Scott Berger is a very highly regarded figure in the real estate market, with vast experience in private equity issues. His multifaceted practice includes advising international as well as domestic interests on transactions, financings and joint ventures.

Interviewees appreciate the way Jonathan Schechter can "draw on a wealth of prior transactional experience," and also highlight that he is "very responsive and diligent." He advised Starwood Capital on the formation of a joint venture for the purpose of developing a New York eco-friendly hotel and condominium community.

The "very commercial" Jennifer Morgan is "very calm, doesn't overreact to things and is always looking for constructive solutions." She focuses her practice on real estate private equity, and recently advised Kerzner International on the restructuring of $3 billion of debt.

Tax - New York

THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis's admirable tax group offers in-depth expertise in a range of sophisticated transactions, including domestic and international M&A, bankruptcies, restructurings, fund formation, buyouts, financings and executive compensation arrangements. It also represents clients engaged in disputes with state and foreign tax authorities, and with the IRS. Its clients include Burger King, 3G Capital Management and Apax Partners. The team recently represented ABB in connection with the multibillion-dollar acquisition of Thomas & Betts.

Sources say: "A very experienced team that is able to handle European tax, US tax and wider international tax jurisdictions. They have a very commercial approach."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Patrick Gallagher is widely respected for his handling of cross-border acquisitions and divestitures, restructurings, public offerings and fund formation. Much of this work is undertaken on behalf of private equity clients. His recent highlights include representing WideOpenWest (now known as WOW!) in its high-value acquisition of Knology. "I have a very positive impression of him," states one interviewee.

Steven Clemens is admired by peers for his assured and accomplished manner. He is an expert in the fields of domestic and cross-border M&A, private equity and investment fund formation, and securities. His distinguished clients include TowerBrook Capital Partners and ABB.

Greer Phillips handles a range of sophisticated domestic and cross-border transactions, including spin-offs, joint ventures, workouts and bankruptcies, and M&A. He recently led on behalf of Burger King in its high-value partial sale to the shareholders of Justice Holdings. 

The talented Russell Light is admired by clients for bringing a creative approach to complex transactions, including in private equity investments, M&A and buyouts. Clients describe him as "a very personable guy who is very front-footed in terms of tackling quite complex issues, and very commercial."