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Kirkland & Ellis Training Contracts & Interview Questions

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Law Training Contract: Application Dates and Information

Kirkland & Ellis suggests that it places a particular emphasis on those who have gone through its Vacation Schemes. The vacation schemes are designed to provide you with an insight into how the London office operates. Vacation placements run throughout April and June. Applications will open at the start of October each year and close at the beginning of January the year after. You can apply directly for the training contracts from the beginning of April until the middle of July. 

Firm Overview

Kirkland is the highest-grossing firm in the world. It posted a revenue of $4.83 billion in its last financial year. The revenue in London increased by 29% in that same year to around $550 million. It was also the first law firm to break the $4B barrier.

Profit per equity partner has climbed to $6.2 million in recent years.

The firm is Chicago-founded, and has managed to become synonymous with private equity. It is placed number one in the world by Chambers Global for this area of work. It is also considered to be an elite firm in capital markets, corporate and M&A, banking and finance, and restructurings. 

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Firm Specialisms & Training Contract Seats

Trainees are split by their experiences at the firm, with some believing the training is somewhat lacking when compared to Magic Circle firms, although they feel that the hands-on training is more than good enough. In other words, lectures, seminars, workshops etc are lacking. You should expect to take a seat in each of corporate, investment funds, and debt finance. You will then be offered further experience which you can choose, with the majority of trainees trying to work in the investment funds department. You will also have the chance of a secondment abroad in Hong Kong, New York, or elsewhere.

Law Training Contract: Past Interview Format & Questions

The format of the assessment centre is typically along the following lines, per previous applicants:

9am Arrival and ice breaker

9:45 Partner Q & A

10:45 Break

11:00 Group Interview

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Partner Interview

1:40 Written Exercise

2:30 ish Leave

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Group Exercise

Per previous applicants, the group was asked to each pick a CEO for ‘Kirkland enterprises’ which must be someone famous (i.e. a celebrity). There was no particular rationale needed for why the CEO was chosen – it did not need to be a business figure. You are then asked to choose, as a group, one person between those who each person has suggested. The trainee’s group chose John Legend in the end. You will then be asked to present this choice of CEO to the associates who are judging the group. Seemingly, this exercise is more one that requires people to work together and understand each other than one that requires knowledge of commerce and law. This is perhaps rather different to what you might expect from Kirkland. Applicants report feeling very time pressured during this as people begin to debate why their choice for CEO is better than others’.

Partner Interview

The partner interview is described as being relatively informal, although very different depending on the partner that you get. It seems there is no set structure or questions.

Previous questions include:
– Why do you want to be a lawyer?
– Where do you see your career going in the future?
– Why Kirkland in particular?

– When have you shown resilience in the past?
– How are you finding your degree currently?
– How do you organise yourself?
– How do you ensure that you perform your work to a high standard?
– What is private equity?
– How does private equity work?
– What is private equity in layman’s terms?
– A brief scenario in which the partner outlines a private equity problem or situation (drawn out in rough on a piece of paper) and then asks how the money is shared between the private equity firm and the bank after the exiting of an investment.
– When have you shown initiative?
– Where does Kirkland sit in the market?
– Why an American firm?
– What is leveraged finance?
– Why not apply to a UK founded firm?

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