Nine Kirkland & Ellis lawyers took on in-house private equity positions in the first quarter of 2021, most of whom departed to the role of legal director.
Kirkland Corporate Partner Nadia Karkar left the San Francisco office last month to join TPG Global LLC as General Counsel in the same city. Elizabeth Freechack, a New York-based merger and acquisition partner and private equity partner, also joined private equity firm L Catterton in March as associate attorney general.
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 M&A partner in Dallas, also left the company earlier this month to join Echo Investment Capital as legal chief.
Large corporations like Kirkland, while keen to retain talent, also benefit when lawyers leave their ranks for internal positions with sought-after clients. Once these recruits have filled their new positions, they may be able to direct the legal work to their previous employers.
Kirkland declined to discuss the circumstances of the departures. The company confirmed the outcomes when Bloomberg Law inquired about them.
Known for its numerous non-equity partners and restructuring expertise, Kirkland has an outstanding private equity practice targeting global buyouts.
Bloomberg Law reported this week that private equity deals are partly responsible for Kirkland’s strong performance at the top of the quarterly M&A tables.
In January, Kirkland corporate partner Gerald “Jerry” Nowak joined the Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo LLC as managing director, general counsel and chief administrative officer. Nowak told Bloomberg Law at the time that he had been the buyout firm’s primary outside attorney for 20 years prior to joining Thoma Bravo.
Nowak’s move came after another Kirkland private equity client, Paine Schwartz Partners LLC, reached out to the firm when it needed a new in-house legal officer last year.
TPG, a longtime client of Kirkland, hired Karkar as the top attorney for its Growth & Rise fund, which focuses on investments that generate returns and have positive social and environmental impacts.
Karkar, who once served as the CEO of a luxury real estate agency in her native Australia, did not respond to a request for comment on leaving Kirkland for TPG.
She joined Kirkland in 2016 from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where she worked as an associate in New York and Hong Kong for about five years. Karkar left Weil in 2012 but returned to the company in 2015 after ending her time Down Under as CEO.
Freechack is now based in L Catterton’s Greenwich, Connecticut office, a US-French buyout company that also invests in Equinox Holdings Inc. The luxury gym chain lost $ 350 million last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and kept Kirkland for restructuring advisors.
Before joining FTV, Fleischman led a Kirkland team in January that advised the company on its investment in residential solar finance platform Sunlight Financial LLC, which agreed to go public through its merger with a SPAC. Kirkland also ran an FTV fundraiser last year for $ 1.2 billion.
Echo Investment Capital, which Merrill has hired, is an Oklahoma City-based investment firm founded by the founder and CEO of Echo Energy LLC, Christian Kanady. Like many other US energy companies, Echo Energy filed for bankruptcy last year.
Other Kirkland lawyers who traveled into the private equity world this year include:
Alisha Patterson – The Boston-based private investment and fund formation employee stepped down in January to join Canadian private equity firm Whitehorse Liquidity Partners Inc. as Director of Legal in Toronto.
Jacob Hansen The New York-based corporate partner joined buyout giant Cerberus Capital Management LP in January as Director and Deputy General Counsel for its Cerberus Operations and Advisory Co. LLC. Kirkland advised Cerberus and Koch Minerals & Trading LLC in March on the acquisition of a performance chemicals business from PQ Group Holdings Inc. valued at $ 1.1 billion.
Peter Anderson The Chicago-based corporate partner joined aviation data investor Tony Aquila as General Counsel of Argyle, Texas-based private equity firm AFV Partners LLC in January. AFV launched Anderson after several acquisitions – it bought Seattle Avionics, RocketRoute Ltd. and Aircraft Performance Group LLC last 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.