Mergers and acquisitions specialist Sarkis Jebejian became one of the few Cravath, Swaine & Moore partners to make a lateral move out of the firm when he joined Kirkland & Ellis’ New York office yesterday. Like most lawyers who practice there, Jebejian, 43, began his career at Cravath, which he joined after graduating from Columbia Law School in 1994. Since being promoted to partner in 2001, he has worked on major domestic and cross-border M&A transactions for such clients as BAE Systems, British American Tobacco, the independent directors of General Motors, NextEra Energy, and Northrop Grumman. His recent assignments include representing Flagstone Reinsurance in connection with its $623 million sale to Validus Holdings in August; Genpact on a $1 billion investment by Bain Capital that same month; and BAE Systems in connection with the sale of its Safariland subsidiary for $114 million in May.

Sarkis Jebejian

Jebejian is just the second partner this year to leave Cravath, a firm that rarely finds itself in the lateral movement fray. In January, Cravath lost environmental practice head Jeffrey Smith to Crowell & Moring. Jebejian said it was a “tough decision” to leave Cravath, but that he was attracted to the “once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity” to join what he describes as Kirkland’s more entrepreneurial practice. He is the first lateral M&A partner Kirkland has hired since recruiting New York-based David Fox and Daniel Wolf from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in 2009 to bolster the firm’s M&A practice (Kirkland did hire a private equity partner, Taurie Zeitzer, from Latham & Watkins in August. It also lost New York M&A partner Karyn Koiffman to Baker & McKenzie in June).