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Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s office at 825 Eighth AVe.in New York.

Four months after making headlines with its hire of Cravath, Swaine & Moore corporate partner Eric Schiele, Kirkland & Ellis has returned to the firm for two more hires.

Sandra Goldstein, long considered one of Cravath’s most powerful partners and a former head of litigation at the firm, is moving to Kirkland’s New York office with litigation associate Stefan Atkinson, said a source briefed on the matter. Atkinson, like Goldstein, will be an equity partner in Kirkland’s litigation group.

A Friday evening email to Goldstein at Cravath returned a message that she had resigned from the partnership as of April 13. All inquiries on client matters are being directed to Daniel Slifkin, the current head of Cravath’s litigation group. A request for comment sent to Goldstein at Kirkland and her personal email address were not immediately returned by the time of this story.

Goldstein’s move to Kirkland, which was first reported by Reuters and The Wall Street Journal, comes as Cravath and other traditionally lockstep New York firms grapple with challenges to their compensation model from outfits like Kirkland extending lucrative pay packages to recruit high-end laterals.

Kirkland, which last year topped Latham & Watkins to become the nation’s highest-grossing law firm with $3.165 billion in gross revenue, has previously tapped Cravath for new talent. In late 2016, Kirkland hired Cravath M&A partner Jonathan Davis in New York, a move that came four years after former Cravath M&A partner Sarkis Jebejian jumped to Kirkland.

Schiele, who worked alongside Cravath’s presiding partner Faiza Saeed on some of the firm’s largest deals, including The Walt Disney Co.’s pending $66 billion buy of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., made the move to Kirkland in January. In early 2016, Cravath saw M&A superstar Scott Barshay leave its ranks for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which agreed to pay him nearly $10 million per year, according to reporting by The American Lawyer.

The partner exits have put pressure on Cravath’s lockstep model. The firm, which will celebrate its 200th anniversary next year, has made tweaks to the timeline of its partnership compensation structure. But Cravath has also resisted incorporating major changes that some of its contemporaries, such as Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, have made to their own lockstep compensation systems.

In a statement provided in March to the New York Law Journal, Cravath defended its system as encompassing “our approach to talent development, client service and compensation. It is the foundation of our collaborative culture, and it drives the consistency in quality across our platform that enables us to deliver the best advice to our clients in their most challenging matters.”

Saeed, a top Cravath dealmaker who in 2016 became the firm’s first female leader after succeeding C. Allen Parker as presiding partner (Parker subsequently became general counsel at Wells Fargo & Co.), did not return a request for comment about Goldstein’s departure. Kirkland declined to discuss the matter.

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