Kirkland Institute

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Overview of Kirkland Institute

Kirkland provides attorney training that combines a cutting-edge legal practice with a year-round series of formal training programs including mock exercises, lectures and presentations.  

From their first days at our Firm, junior Kirkland lawyers typically have front-line opportunities to take and defend depositions, draft transaction documents, argue motions in court and draft securities filings. By performing such work under the guidance of senior colleagues, Kirkland lawyers learn through hands-on experience.  

Kirkland trains its junior lawyers not only by giving them substantial responsibility on sophisticated client matters, but also through extensive formal programs covering all of the Firm's practice areas. These programs ensure that each of the Firm's summer associates and junior lawyers has the opportunity to develop a broad set of basic skills that are critical to his or her practice. This summary describes some of those programs.

Litigation Training

Kirkland offers its litigation and intellectual property litigation associates year-round formal litigation training, including lectures, mock trials, and workshops.  

For more than 30 years, the foundation of Kirkland litigation training has been the Kirkland Institute for Trial Advocacy, or KITA. Patterned after the nationally renowned programs offered by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA®), KITA consists of a series of programs throughout the year, the highlight of which is a full two-day jury trial conducted by the associates in 2-3 person trial teams, with experienced Kirkland partners serving as judges and instructors and local actors playing the witness roles. Associates from all of Kirkland's U.S. offices work together in these trials, divided up into three groups based roughly on experience level, and assigned to three trial facilities in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.  

A simplified version of the KITA trial program is offered each summer under the auspices of Kirkland's summer associate program.  

Kirkland's KITA training has been widely and frequently recognized as among the best in the country. Kirkland has ranked among the top two firms nationally for formal training in each of the last 10 editions of Vault's Guide to the Top 100 Law Firms — an independent survey of partners and associates from the most renowned law firms around the country, capturing the number one ranking in seven out of the 10 editions. Chambers & Partners' 2006 guide to "America's Leading Lawyers for Business," noted that "[Kirkland's] coverage of the market is strengthened by its commitment to training attorneys 'from top to bottom' to a high standard of advocacy..."  

In addition to the KITA jury trials, Kirkland's litigation training includes programs on the nuts and bolts of litigation, professional responsibility, evidence, written discovery, working with experts, legal writing and taking and defending depositions. Every year, about three-quarters of the Firm's litigation share partners, including the most senior, personally participate in one or more of the KITA programs, along with a number of the most experienced junior partners. 

  • Nuts and Bolts of Litigation: This program — offered to all incoming litigation associates within a few weeks of their arrival at the firm — covers exactly what its name suggests: basic litigation responsibilities and tools that associates need to know to work effectively as the junior person at any stage of a case.
  • Professional Responsibility: Also one of the first programs to be offered in the fall, this program — presented by the Firm's partner in charge of professional responsibility — covers the important provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct and applicable firm policies.
  • Evidence: In advance of and in conjunction with the KITA jury trials, one of the Firm's senior litigation partners offers a refresher on the most common evidence issues faced in the courtroom.
  • Written Discovery: This program addresses the rules applicable to interrogatories, document requests, and requests for admission, along with strategies for preparing and responding to each.
  • Working with Experts: This program addresses one of the most common situations faced by new litigation associates at Kirkland — finding, retaining, and working with expert consultants and witnesses.
  • Effective Legal Writing: This program is conducted every year by Brian Garner of LawProse — a nationally renowned legal writing coach and lecturer. The program covers the five major skills that legal writers need to acquire: framing issues effectively; achieving a lean style; creating smooth transitions from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph; quoting authority well; and using an efficient method for producing written work.
  • KITA Deposition Training: This program is again patterned after NITA®. Associates are divided into small groups and alternate taking and defending mock depositions. Senior Kirkland trial lawyers act as judges, providing instruction and critique, and actors are hired to serve as witnesses.

KITA's deposition training and jury trial programs use case files developed by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (two of them based on Kirkland cases) for NITA's advanced trial advocacy program. Each case file consists of pleadings, deposition transcripts, witness statements, and exhibits from a fictional or partly fictional lawsuit. These mock cases involve an accident at a nuclear power plant resulting in the plaintiff's exposure to radiation, the sinking of an ocean-going oil tanker and resulting damage from the oil spill (a file based the 1977 wreck of the crude oil carrier Cadiz off the coast of Normandy); the failure of a suture following a heart-transplant operation resulting in the death of the patient (also based roughly on an actual event); the great Chicago flood of 1992, an insurance coverage claim resulting from millions of dollars of damage to residential housing units from termite infestation, and a claim of breach of a license agreement for video game technology.

Patent Infringement Litigation Training

In addition to the general trial advocacy training provided by KITA, Kirkland's intellectual property litigators receive further training through the Kirkland Institute of Patent Infringement Litigation (KIPIL), which offers monthly videoconferencing with topics covering the legal and procedural issues that recur in patent infringement litigation.

Corporate Training

The cornerstone of the Firm's transactional training program is the Kirkland Institute of Corporate Practice, or KICP.

Each summer, Kirkland partners lead KICP sessions designed to familiarize summer associates with the various transactional practice areas, including private equity, securities, secured lending, tax, intellectual property and real estate. In addition, the New York and Chicago offices offer a one-day negotiation workshop to the summer associates. During this program, summer associates are involved in two mock negotiations in which partners observe and then provide feedback to the summer associates.

The KICP training sessions for Kirkland’s new full-time transactional associates are run by the Firm's senior transactional partners. Upon arrival at Kirkland each fall, new associates gather to participate in the KICP Basic Training Academy — one week of discussion-based seminars on the "nuts and bolts" of transactional practice. Lunchtime KICP sessions are held weekly for 12 weeks and cover transaction-related topics, such as initial public offerings, high-yield debt offerings, accounting, credit agreements and fiduciary duties. The final KICP program of the year is a two-day seminar in our Chicago office (for which non-Chicago associates travel to Chicago) focusing on the structuring of complex transactions, such as new business formations, mergers, acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, contested takeovers and fund formations.

Restructuring Training

The Kirkland Institute of Restructuring Training (KIRT) offers training on restructuring, insolvency, workout and bankruptcy in a lecture format. KIRT provides the Firm's restructuring attorneys with an opportunity to reinforce and enhance their knowledge and skills through regular meetings with senior members of the practice. These meetings, conducted on a regular basis, ensure that practice members remain current with developments in the field, and provide a forum for the development of the practice as a whole.

Insolvency Training

The Kirkland Institute of Insolvency Training (KIIT) offers litigation training for restructuring attorneys.  Attorneys participating in KIIT conduct a mock trial using a case study involving current restructuring topics, as well as recurring issues such as valuation. To complement KIIT, restructuring attorneys also participate in some components of KITA, particularly KITA's deposition training.

Tax Training

The Kirkland Institute of Tax Practice (KITP) offers in-depth training to its tax associates on a wide variety of issues relevant to Kirkland's transactional and controversy tax practices. The semi-monthly sessions are conducted by Kirkland partners and senior associates and are intended to provide the Firm's tax associates, particularly junior associates, with the foundation necessary to be a successful tax attorney at Kirkland.

Private Equity Training

The Kirkland LBO/Private Equity Seminar teaches clients and associates the basics of private equity and leveraged buyout transactions. Senior Kirkland partners have been offering the workshops every two years for almost two decades. The unique training format is designed to make the transaction process more understandable — and the learning curve more enjoyable.

Intellectual Property Training

KTECH offers training for intellectual property attorneys. KTECH begins with an introduction boot camp on the basics of intellectual property law. The boot camp is followed by monthly sessions on issues in intellectual property and technology transactions. These sessions typically run from October through May.

Diversity Training

Kirkland retains, nurtures and advances its diverse professionals by providing development opportunities on an inclusive basis, maintaining training programs that foster diversity and inclusion, and promoting its professionals on the basis of their individual merit and contributions. Kirkland is currently instituting a Firmwide Diversity Training Program. The focus of the program is to promote inclusion by enhancing our lawyers’ ability to work effectively across diverse social, economic, cultural and personal backgrounds.

Professional Responsibility Training

Kirkland offers professional responsibility training to all of its attorneys across all of its practice areas. Kirkland’s partner in charge of professional responsibility regularly travels to Kirkland’s offices to give a presentation on the topic and has developed similar presentations specific to clients’ requests.

Continuing Legal Education Seminars & Client Training

Kirkland recognizes the importance of continuing legal education activities and encourages attorneys to attend seminars and conferences to further their legal careers.

Kirkland sponsors a variety of seminars for clients targeted to specific practice areas and topics. These seminars include in-house seminars at Kirkland’s offices, seminars at our clients’ offices and seminars held in public forums. Many of Kirkland’s in-house training programs offer CLE credit. The Firm’s offices are accredited providers for CLE credit for the states of California, Illinois and New York.

Related Files:

Kirkland Institute Brochure
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