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DLA Piper’s Chicago office is losing another pair of rainmakers.

Steven Napolitano, co-chair of the global legal giant’s U.S. private equity practice, and Brendan Head, the co-managing partner of its Chicago office, are set to join Kirkland & Ellis as partners in the firm’s vaunted private equity practice, according to two sources familiar with the moves.

Both sources said the pair had a large book of business, mostly representing private equity clients, worth up to $30 million.

“We wish Steve and Brendan all the best and look forward to collaborating with them in the future,” said a statement from a DLA Piper spokesman.

Steven Napolitano

A Kirkland spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment on the matter, nor did Napolitano and Head. The departure of both lawyers follows closely on the heels of another major exodus from DLA Piper’s U.S. practice.

In March, McDermott Will & Emery began a raid that would grow to nearly 50 lawyers with its hire of DLA Piper partner Michael Poulos in Chicago. A former co-managing partner of the Americas at the firm, Poulos ran a litigation practice that several sources said was worth around $30 million in business.

McDermott also brought aboard Michael Sheehan, the former co-chair of DLA Piper’s global employment practice and chair of its U.S. employment practice. And the firm added a real estate finance team headlined by Jeffrey Steiner, the former New York-based global co-chair of DLA Piper’s finance practice.

In a letter to its partners, McDermott chairman Ira Coleman said the firm had hired 22 partners from DLA Piper, a mass lateral move that it expects to add $100 million in annual revenue. (McDermott’s gross revenue was $925.5 million in 2017.)

For Kirkland, which broke the $3 billion gross revenue mark in 2017, the move is yet another splashy addition to its leading private equity practice.

In February, the firm hired Jennifer Perkins, the former co-chair of Latham & Watkins’ global private equity practice. Prior to that, Kirkland added Christian Atwood, a former co-chair of the private equity group at Choate, Hall & Stewart and a member of the firm’s executive committee.

Kirkland’s appetite for lateral acquisitions has been fueled by an almost unprecedented run of financial growth within the past decade. In April, Kirkland hired two lawyers from Cravath, Swaine & Moore, including former litigation head Sandra Goldstein, only four months after it brought on ex-Cravath M&A partner Eric Schiele.

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Roy Strom

Based in Chicago, Roy Strom has been reporting on the legal world since 2011. He covers law firms with a focus on how the Big Law business model is changing. He writes a weekly column for Law.com called "The Law Firm Disrupted," covering changes in the legal services market. He can be reached at rstrom@alm.com. On Twitter: @RoyWStrom

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Christine Simmons

Christine Simmons writes about the New York legal community and the business of law. Email her at csimmons@alm.com and find her on Twitter @chlsimmons

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