William Sorabella, a two-time American Lawyer Dealmaker of the Year, has left Kirkland & Ellis for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
Sorabella had been at Kirkland since 2003, and joined Gibson Dunn as a partner in New York on Tuesday.
“I was able to work on terrific matters and mature as a lawyer [at Kirkland], but for me this is a really terrific opportunity,” he said.
Sorabella started his career at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in 2000, and he has been a partner at Kirkland since 2006.
“One of the things I’ve always enjoyed in my entire career is helping to grow and strengthen relationships,” he said. “I’ve done that with clients, I’ve done that as part of an internal team, and I’m really excited to help grow existing relationships and to help develop and grow new client relationships.”
In May 2018, Gibson Dunn lured a four-lawyer corporate and private equity team away from Kirkland, including three attorneys who had been partners at the firm for at least 14 years. Sorabella said that those familiar faces, with whom he’d practiced for years, added to the appeal of the move. But he also praised his new colleagues.
“The culture here has been so welcoming since I started having discussions with them,” he said. “Each and every partner has been incredibly welcoming and made me feel at home.”
Sorabella was named one of The American Lawyer’s Dealmakers of the Year in 2011 and 2013. The first time, he was recognized for his work on behalf of 3G Capital in its $4 billion acquisition of Burger King Holdings Inc. in 2010. Sorabella was later one of two Kirkland partners who represented Burger King in a 2014 merger with Canadian quick-serve coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons Inc.
He made the list again in 2013 with his Kirkland colleague Stephen Fraidin, representing two private equity firms that executed a $2 billion acquisition of Collective Brands Inc., a footwear company that owned Payless ShoeSource as well as several shoe brands. (Fraidin has also left Kirkland, serving as vice chairman of Pershing Square Capital Management before joining Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft last June.)
Sorabella’s other corporate clients have included Tronox Limited, Murray Energy Corp., Restaurant Brands International Inc., Huntsman Corp. and Exelon Corp.; while his private equity clients have included GTCR LLC, The Carlyle Group and L Catterton Partners.
“We thank Bill for his contribution to Kirkland and wish him well in his future endeavors,” the firm said in a statement.
“Bill is an exceptional, highly regarded M&A lawyer, who has worked on a number of high-profile transactions. We are delighted to have him join our corporate group,” said Ken Doran, Gibson Dunn’s chairman and managing partner, in a statement. “His deep experience and his excellent reputation, especially in the public company deal community and among private equity sponsors, will be an excellent addition to our strong M&A platform.”