Kirkland & Ellis continued its streak of big name lateral hires to start 2018, announcing Tuesday its hire of Jennifer Perkins, the former co-chair of Latham & Watkins’ global private equity practice.
The move involves arguably the two biggest firms in the lucrative private equity space. Kirkland has for years ranked atop the private equity deal tables, and Latham has been close behind, ranking No. 2 in Mergermarket’s ranking of volume and value of deals since at least 2016.
Perkins’ move comes on the heels of Kirkland’s raid last month on the partnership at Cravath, Swaine & Moore for dealmaker Eric Schiele, who made the move to Kirkland’s New York office.
At Latham, Perkins had advised private equity clients including Centerbridge Partners, GTCR, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., The Carlyle Group and Vestar Capital Partners Inc., according to her now-expired biography page on Latham’s website. Kirkland also represents a number of those clients, including Carlyle, from which the firm last year hired David King as a partner in San Francisco.
Perkins said that she has worked across the table from Kirkland many times and was excited to join its private equity practice, which she said continues to expand.
“[It] seems like there is still room [to grow],” Perkins said. “I’m very excited about moving to this great private equity platform with a lot of top-notch, excellent attorneys. I’ve really witnessed their quality over time.”
Perkins’ lateral move also involves the two largest firms on the Am Law 100 when ranked by gross revenue. Latham took the top spot in 2017 thanks to its $2.823 billion in gross revenue the year before, while Kirkland’s gross revenue windfall was $2.651 billion in 2016. Kirkland’s profits per equity partner last year were $4.1 million, compared to Latham’s $3.06 million.
At Latham, Perkins also served on the firm’s diversity leadership committee, as well as its training and career enhancement committee. She said she would remain involved and be a “leader” in diversity initiatives at Kirkland.
“Jen is a highly skilled attorney with an exemplary reputation in the private equity space,” said a statement by Jeffrey Hammes, chairman of Kirkland’s global management executive committee. “Her commercial approach to sophisticated transactions makes her an ideal fit for Kirkland’s private equity practice and our New York office.”
Hammes, who became leader of Kirkland in 2010, has been busy on the recruiting front in recent months. Kirkland brought back former partner and ex-Jenner & Block intellectual property transactions chairman Adam Petravicius in Chicago and added former Choate Hall & Stewart private equity co-chairman Christian Atwood in Boston, where Kirkland opened an office last year. In December, Kirkland picked up ex-Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer private equity partner David Higgins in London and brought on a high-profile investment management and funds group from Debevoise & Plimpton in New York.
Kirkland recently welcomed Weil, Gotshal & Manges counsel John Goldman as a partner for its real estate group in New York, where Kirkland just hired restructuring partner Susan Golden from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the U.S. Trustee. Kirkland also snagged ex-Simpson Thacher & Bartlett associate Erland Modesto as a debt finance partner in Houston, where Kirkland set up shop in 2014. Modesto spent the past year as senior counsel at Energy Transfer Partners.
A spokeswoman for Latham wished Perkins well in her new role at Kirkland.