Kirkland & Ellis has opened an office in Dallas in the latest move in the firm’s recent growth spree.
The office is the firm’s second in Texas, ninth in the U.S., and 14th worldwide. Its team will kick off with six partners focused mostly on transactional work: Michael Considine and Alex Rose, who join from Jones Day; Kevin Crews, who comes from Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Thomas Laughlin and Lanchi Huynh of Vinson & Elkins; and Dilen Kumar of Winston & Strawn.
The new partners there will work closely with the team in Kirkland’s Houston office, which opened in 2014 and now has approximately 140 lawyers, according to Andrew Calder, a Houston-based partner who sits on Kirkland’s 15-member Global Management Committee.
“We’ve been incredibly busy in Houston and more broadly, we’re one of the dominant, if not the dominant M&A advisors in Texas,” Calder told Bloomberg Law. “We looked at where the next natural extension of the brand in Texas would be.”
He said the decision to open a new office was also based in part by the needs of attorneys working in Dallas.
“What we found when we tried to recruit up there was many attorneys were keen to join the Kirkland brand, but they didn’t want to move from Dallas to Houston,” Calder said. “That community is very strong.”
The new hires in Dallas will be joined by tax partner David Wheat and corporate partner Ryan Gorsche, who joined Kirkland earlier this year. Approximately 10 associates have also been hired in Dallas, according to Calder.
Earlier this year, Kirkland overtook Latham for the top spot on The American Lawyer’s ranking of the 100 U.S. law firms ranked by gross revenue. The firm reported $3.16 billion in 2017 gross revenue, up 19.4 percent from the previous year.
The firm has been on an aggressive growth spree, poaching top talent across practice groups including M&A and private equity.
Yet Calder denied the firm has an expansion mindset. “Kirkland is opportunistic and wants to have the best legal talent on its platform,” he said. “We don’t grow for the sake of growth. We’re very strategic about where we go.”
He said the Dallas expansion is “independent of any other strategy at the firm.”
Calder said the firm has no immediate plans to grow the Dallas office further, but he did not rule out the possibility.
“There’s no fixed plan for how big we have to get,” he said. “But if the client demand is there, we’ll grow to meet that client demand. My assumption, based on the very strong group we’ve put together here in the first inning, is that we’ll have significant client demand and we’ll have to grow quickly.”