Kirkland lawyers flock to private equity positions

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Nine Kirkland & Ellis attorneys held in-house private equity positions in the first quarter of 2021, most moving on to chief legal positions.

Kirkland partner Nadia Karkar left the firm’s San Francisco office last month to join TPG Global LLC as general counsel based in the same city. Elizabeth Freechack, a New York-based mergers and acquisitions and private equity firm, joined private equity firm L Catterton as deputy general counsel, also in March.

Among other notable exits, Andrew Fleischman, a New York-based corporate partner, joined FTV Management Co. LP in February as general counsel. Joshua Merrill, a newly promoted private equity and mergers and acquisitions partner in Dallas, also left this month to become chief legal officer of Echo Investment Capital.

Large firms like Kirkland, while keen to hang on to talent, could also benefit if lawyers leave their ranks for internal positions with coveted clients. Once these recruits are in their new positions, they may be in a good position to direct legal work to their former employers.

Kirkland declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding the departures. The firm confirmed the outings when Bloomberg Law inquired about them.

Kirkland, known for its legions of non-equity partners and restructuring expertise, has a leading private equity practice geared towards global buyout companies.

Bloomberg Law reported this week that private equity deals were partly responsible for Kirkland’s strong performance at the top of the quarterly M&A charts.

In January, Kirkland’s Chicago partner Gerald “Jerry” Nowak joined private equity firm Thoma Bravo LLC as managing director, general counsel and chief executive officer. Nowak told Bloomberg Law at the time that before joining Thoma Bravo, he had been the buyout firm’s main outside advisor for 20 years.

Nowak’s move came after another Kirkland private equity client, Paine Schwartz Partners LLC, turned to the company when it needed a new in-house general counsel last year.

TPG, a long-time Kirkland client, has hired Karkar to be the best advocate for its Growth & Rise fund, which focuses on investments that will generate returns and have a positive social and environmental impact.

Karkar, who once served as CEO of a luxury real estate agency in his native Australia, did not respond to a request for comment on Kirkland’s departure for TPG.

She joined Kirkland in 2016 from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where she spent approximately five years as a partner in New York and Hong Kong. Karkar left Weil in 2012 but returned to the company in 2015 after completing his tenure as CEO.

Freechack now works in Greenwich, Connecticut, in the office of L Catterton, a French-American buyout firm that is also an investor in Equinox Holdings Inc. The luxury gym chain lost $ 350 million last year. due to the coronavirus pandemic and retained Kirkland for restructuring advice.

Fleischman, before moving in-house with FTV, led a team from Kirkland in January that advised the company on its investment in residential solar finance platform Sunlight Financial LLC, which agreed to go public by merging with a SPAC. Kirkland also managed a $ 1.2 billion fundraiser by FTV last year.

Echo Investment Capital, which hired Merrill, is an Oklahoma City-based investment firm founded by founder and CEO of Echo Energy LLC, Christian Kanady. Echo Energy, like many other US energy companies, filed for bankruptcy last year.

The other Kirkland lawyers who left for the private equity world this year are:

Alisha Patterson – The Boston-based private equity and fund training partner scrambled in January to join Canadian private equity firm Whitehorse Liquidity Partners Inc. as General Counsel in Toronto.

Jacob hansen – The New York-based partner firm joined buyout giant Cerberus Capital Management LP in January as a director and deputy general counsel for Cerberus Operations and Advisory Co. LLC. Kirkland advised Cerberus and Koch Minerals & Trading LLC in March on its $ 1.1 billion purchase of a performance chemicals company from PQ Group Holdings Inc.

Peter Anderson – The Chicago-based partner firm joined the private equity firm AFV Partners LLC of Tony Aquila, a private equity firm based in Argyle, Texas, as general counsel in January. AFV called on Anderson after several acquisitions – he bought Seattle Avionics, RocketRoute Ltd. and Aircraft Performance Group LLC over the past year. Kirkland has represented AFV and Aquila in litigation.

Sara Ashley Moreno – Cardinal System Holdings LLC, a family-owned holding company that makes strategic investments in various industries, hired Houston-based Moreno as general counsel in January. Cardinal System’s operations are primarily located in Houston and Tampa.

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