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Jeffrey Hammes, left, and Jon Ballis, right, of Kirkland & Ellis. (Courtesy photos)

When Jon Ballis assumes the title of chairman of Kirkland & Ellis‘ 15-partner global executive management committee in 2020, he will likely be leading a group comprising no fewer than six partners who began their careers at other firms, himself included.

Part of the legacy Jeff Hammes will leave at Kirkland after leading the firm for a decade is a willingness to pay top dollar for star lateral recruits—and also to entrust those partners with leadership positions. Jim Hurst, Andrew Calder, Stephen Lucas and David Higgins all joined Kirkland from rival firms since 2014 and are today part of the firm’s leadership committee. Ballis joined from Sidley Austin in 2005, and David Fox, another committee member, came on board from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom just before Hammes assumed the chairman title in 2009.

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