Kirkland & Ellis has continued its recruiting drive to build out its new Boston office, this time by adding Christian Atwood, co-chair of the private equity group and a member of the executive committee at Choate, Hall & Stewart.
Atwood, whose hired by Kirkland was announced Monday, specializes in M&A deals with a focus on private equity funds and their portfolio companies. During his nearly 18 years at Choate Hall, Atwood has represented private equity clients like Avista Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Intervale Capital, New Heritage Capital and The Blackstone Group.
Atwood said he was convinced that he would spend his entire career at Choate Hall, a Boston-based Am Law 200 firm he joined as a summer associate in 2000. But after Kirkland set up shop in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood in May 2017, Atwood received a call from Kirkland corporate partner and executive committee member Jon Ballis in Chicago, who asked to meet for a cup of coffee and discuss the possibility of him coming aboard.
“The more I thought about it and the more we talked about it, the more excited I became about what I thought I could do on this platform and with the additional resources that Kirkland brings to bear,” said Atwood, who was named a “Boston Rising Star” by sibling publication The National Law Journal in 2015.
Atwood, who spoke with Forbes.com last year about Choate Hall’s middle-market focus in the private equity arena, admitted that part of his attraction to Kirkland was the opportunity to capitalize on the global legal giant’s geographic platform, its various subject matter experts and the depth of its bench to service his existing clients, including those based inside and out of Boston. What also enticed Atwood, he said, was the opportunity to be entrepreneurial in building out a new office in Boston for a large, well-established firm like Kirkland.
“I think we can build a really successful office here with the Kirkland brand, with the talent that’s already here and with additional talent that I’m sure we’ll add over time,” Atwood said.
Kirkland, which has had success in recent years using strategic lateral hires to quickly acquire scale in new cities, such as Houston (where the firm set up shop in 2014), has been busy in recent months hiring in Boston. In late December, Kirkland added McDermott Will & Emery partner Michael Sartor in the city, only a few months after recruiting Ropes & Gray private equity partner Jason Serlenga and Proskauer Rose partners Sean Hill and Stephanie Berdik.
But Kirkland isn’t the only large law firm trying to carve out a niche in Boston, a key hub for the life sciences, engineering, private equity and technology sectors. DLA Piper recently reeled in Adam Ghander, co-chair of the private equity group at Boston-based Nutter McClennen & Fish, while Sidley Austin last month added Latham & Watkins private equity partners Alexander Temel and William Schwab and Hogan Lovells bolted on local litigation boutique Collora.