Kirkland has $ 5 billion in sales as it remains the top-selling company in the world
Kirkland & Ellis added $ 680 million to its return on sales to name Latham & Watkins the world’s top-selling law firm as global revenue grew 16% to $ 4.83 billion.
The Chicago-bred giant saw a sharp surge in private equity work to thank for its stellar 2020 results, which saw sales jump from $ 4.15 billion in 2019.
Earnings per Equity Partner (PEP) were $ 6.2 million, up 19% from $ 5.2 million in 2019, despite Kirkland’s workforce increasing 5% to 2,725 lawyers in 2020 . Revenue per attorney increased 11% from $ 1.6 million to approximately $ 1.8 million.
The company does not disclose any regional breakdowns, but it is believed that London has significantly outperformed global growth at around 29%, increasing sales from $ 425 million to around $ 550 million.
The private equity bonanza came as dealmakers made up for lost time after a post-coronavirus pandemic hiatus while restructuring, M&A and litigation fared well.
Kirkland was noticeably more thrifty on the partners front in London in 2020, adding only one to its partnership in the form of Linklaters tax attorney Mavnick Nerwal. Unsurprisingly, however, the company is still the leader in the number of promotions it runs, breaking its own records year after year.
The Kirkland culture is underpinned by an unusual model in which large numbers of employees come together before they are admitted to their fixed equity. Employees who operate a fast-track system can employ a salaried partner six years after qualification – contrary to the general trend of pushing back promotions. With that in mind, 19 attorneys were formed, including three side promotions, a number that far surpassed the conservative market as a whole.
Observers have got used to the two-horse race between Kirkland and Latham to become the world’s most successful law firm. Last month, Latham posted double-digit growth for the third year in a row as revenue rose 15% to $ 4.33 billion and PEP hit $ 4.52 million. Latham’s 20% increase in sales in London meant the city office now generates roughly $ 540 million.