A legal giant—both in size and reputation—Kirkland is the perfect firm for self-starters who are ready to take control of their legal careers. Associates at the firm agree that with the firm’s robust training and the firm’s name on their resumes, their futures are bright. Kirkland & Ellis, one the world’s most elite law firms, is known for its corporate, intellectual property, litigation, M&A, private equity, and restructuring work. With more than 2,900 lawyers, the firm is regularly recognized as one of the most s...

Firm Stats


Total No. Attorneys (2021)

2.5K - 3K


Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100


No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2021)



No. of Summer Associates (2021)

307 total (276 2Ls; 31 1Ls)


Base Salary

Base Salary (2021)


No. of U.S. Offices


Vault Verdict

The hiring process at Kirkland is competitive—which is no surprise given its elite status. The firm seeks top students with impeccable resumes who also demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit that will help them succeed with the firm’s free-market system. Diversity and inclusion is also a key hiring factor as well as an overall priority for the firm. Associates receive billable credit for engaging in diversity-related activities like recruiting and appreciate the firm’s commitment, but they’d like to see more representation at the partner level. Kirkland has a work hard, play hard atmosphere—work hours can be intense but lawyers at the firm are a social group who love to spend time together. Associates feel like they’re part of the team from the start, with partners trusting them wi...

About the Firm


Kirkland & Ellis, one the world’s most elite law firms, is known for its corporate, intellectual property, litigation, M&A, private equity, and restructuring work. With more than 2,900 lawyers, the firm is regularly recognized as one of the most successful in the world.

Extra, Extra!

In 1909, fresh-faced attorneys Stuart Shepard and Robert McCormick struck up a partnership in Chicago. McCormick’s grandfather founded the Chicago Tribune, and McCormick left the firm in 1920 to become the paper’s publisher—a move that he used to send more business the firm’s way, tapping Kirkland trial lawyer Weymouth Kirkland to defend the Trib in defamation suits. Kirkland soon eclipsed the firm founders as the face of the outfit, carving a l...

Associate Reviews

  • “Work hard, play hard. Extremely dedicated to client service but with plenty of great perks. Pre-COVID, it was very common for lawyers to socialize--it was definitely part of the fabric of the office to be very engaging. During COVID, it's naturally less common but people still find time to catch up on calls or message one another.”
  • “Kirkland is a place where people work hard and deal with tremendous stress, but I've always felt like part of a team. The best part of Kirkland is that in the rare event you run into someone with a bad attitude you never have to work with them again. The free-market system really does weed out bad apples and encourage a collegial atmosphere. I am genuinely friends with most of my colleagues. I've never felt like there was no one I could turn to if I encountered a work problem or issue with a client. It feels like everyone is working towards the same goal. I cannot imagine doing work like this anywhere else. …”
  • “There is an intensity in the air but you see pretty quickly that it’s just people working hard and they are actually friendly and fun.”
  • “Things are a little different now with COVID, but generally, the firm is very social with the majority of attorneys attending practice group dinners and events. The firm has also started monthly practice group happy hours to allow for more informal interaction. Aside from firm organized events, there are also many attorneys who are friends with each other and go to lunch, coffee, drinks, etc. regularly.”

Why Work Here

Kirkland & Ellis is one of the world’s most elite law firms and is recognized for our exceptional service to clients in private equity, M&A and other complex corporate transactions, litigation and dispute resolution/arbitration, restructuring, and intellectual property matters. We believe in creative solutions fueled by teamwork and are dedicated to providing our clients with superior results. We invest in our talent and build dynamic teams that operate at the pinnacle of their practice. With lawyers coming from the world’s finest law schools, Kirkland is known as an industry leader in recruiting, retaining and advancing the brightest legal talent. Our reputation for excellence is recognized globally.

Diversity at Kirkland & Ellis

"At Kirkland, we believe our ability to function at the highest level of our profession is enhanced by building a team of lawyers who bring us the benefits of a broad range of socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and personal backgrounds. Our commitment to diversity is reflected not only in the Firm's policies, programs and committees, but also through our efforts to maintain a culture that values and gathers strength from difference. Kirkland's commitment to diversity and inclusion is ensured by our Firmwide Diversity Integration Task..."

Getting Hired Here

  • “Kirkland is looking for self-starters who can thrive in the open assignment system.”
  • “… An entrepreneurial mindset is crucial to being recruited, because most other comparable BigLaw firms put you on a rigid conveyor belt and tell you everything you need to know and do and you don't have to think for yourself ever. At Kirkland, you have the most freedom to define your own practice and it takes a certain mindset to navigate the open assignment system (which is really easy, but you have to be confident enough to reach out and take advantage of opportunities on your own).”
  • “The school you attended and what you did while you were in school (journals, grades, etc.) matter a ton. T15 or so are by far the biggest feeder schools. However, there are also a fair number of people who are recruited from other schools. I also think that if you have a pretty good work experience prior to law school you have a leg up in getting a job here.”
  • “As one of the top law firms, we obviously have a very competitive hiring process. A reasonable effort is made to promote diversity in the workplace, both by hiring individuals from a variety of schools and hiring from minority groups.”

Practice Area Q&A’s

Aparna Yenamandra


Kirkland & Ellis
Tracie Bryant & Matthew Summers

Partner & Associate

Kirkland & Ellis
Mathew Eapen


Kirkland & Ellis
Abby Litow & Kyle Calhoun

Partner & Associate

Kirkland & Ellis
Shubi Arora & Josh Peary

Partner & Partner

Kirkland & Ellis

Perks & Benefits