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Two Corporate Attorneys Move Over to McDermott from Kirkland & Ellis

02/03/14

Two Corporate Attorneys Move Over to McDermott from Kirkland & Ellis


Two corporate lawyers, Stephanie McCann and Leonard Klingbaum have moved over from Kirkland & Ellis LLP to join as partners at McDermott Will & Emery, the WSJ Law Blog reported. McCann advises on the portfolio of private equity companies and the companies themselves on financial matters, while Klingbaum oversees the debt-finance transactions and represents companies, private-equity firms and lenders.

The lateral moves have made news because Kirkland & Ellis is known to have one of the strongest teams doing private-equity and bankruptcy work and is one of the highest-grossing U.S. law firms. According to the American Lawyer magazine, Kirkland had revenue of $1.9 billion in 2012, while McDermott made $851 million, an amount significantly less than Kirkland.

The partner moves were fueled not just by better financial prospects for the lawyers concerned, but by opportunities to participate in more meaningful roles in a law firm structure. Both the law firm partners who shifted base are attracted by the opportunities of growth at McDermott and the prospects of contributing to upgrading the capacity of practice areas at their new law firm.

McDermott co-chair Peter Sacripanti told the Wall Street Journal Law Blog: "We have been quietly building and upgrading our private-equity capacity … We have also been building the bankruptcy practice, and one of the components of that is distressed debt."

The new partners would be helping in these areas, and the firm is focused on increasing the depth and sophistication of their services provided to middle-market transactions. And in trying to expand those services, Sacripanti observed, "you need lawyers that have those skills, especially in the finance area, and that is where Stephanie and Leonard come in."

The lateral moves by the law firm partners were taken in good grace by Kirkland and a spokeswoman of the firm said the firm wished both the partners well in their future endeavors.

As the WSJ law blog confirmed, the departure of these partners are not a sign of the weakening of Kirkland's finance practice to any extent, and even last year, Kirkland worked on global buyouts worth a combined $50 billion, only during the first three quarters: a feat that Law360 described as "dwarfing its nearest competitors."

Kirkland & Ellis has also been making lateral hires from other big law firms. Some recent such hires include Sean Rodgers from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Rick Madden from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

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