J. David Kirkland Jr.
Partner, Baker Botts
J. David Kirkland Jr. is right at home in the world of big deals. In 2011, Kirkland served as lead counsel for Pride International Inc. when the Houston-based company was acquired by Ensco PLC, a London-based global provider of offshore drilling services. Work on the $8.6 billion deal began in 2010 and the transaction closed in May 2011. Kirkland says while working on the transaction he had to ward off a behind-the-scenes takeover attempt by Norwegian contractor Seadrill Ltd.
“That made things even more complicated,” he says.
Kirkland worked on an even bigger deal in 2010 when he represented oilfield services company Schlumberger Ltd. in its acquisition of Smith International Inc. That deal was complicated by a joint venture that the two companies had had for several years, Kirkland says. The transaction was valued at approximately $11 billion.
Other recent deals include Kirkland’s representation of Eastern Resources Inc., a Pennsylvania-based oil and gas company, when it was bought by Shell Oil Co. for $4.7 billion in 2010. Kirkland represented Perot Systems Corp., a Ross Perot company acquired by Dell Inc. for $4 billion in 2009. On the securities side of his practice, Kirkland handled Newfield Exploration Co.’s $1 billion public offering of senior notes earlier this year and Forum Energy Technologies Inc.’s $435 million initial public offering of common stock in 2011.
It is not surprising that Kirkland decided to practice business law. He says his maternal grandfather and his father were both transactional lawyers. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University in 1980, Kirkland went on to Yale Law School. After he earned his law degree in 1983, he joined Baker Botts, where he currently chairs the firmwide corporate practice.
Kirkland says he prefers deal work to litigation because he believes that he is helping companies achieve their objectives. He also says such transactions are integral to how the capital system works in the United States.
Notes Kirkland, “You’re sort of the glue that helps the capital system work.”
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
“I think he’s an excellent negotiator. He’s also very thoughtful and deliberate . . . and very effective.”
“He thinks on his feet well.”
“He’s very trustworthy. Opposing counsel can trust him.”
“He’s very positive. He always has a good idea when deals get troubling.”
“He’s very experienced; he’s a very smooth negotiator.”
“His deals folio is very impressive.”
Michael D. Wortley
Dallas Office Managing Partner
Vinson & Elkins
“He’s as bright and capable a lawyer as I’ve ever seen. He has a total grasp of all the intricacies of acquisition transactions.”
“Mike is a lawyer’s lawyer. He’s superb technically, great negotiating skills. Mike is as good as it gets.”