Corporate at Uber
As Senior Counsel, Corporate for Uber, working at a rapidly growing company that has changed the way we live, Andrew Glickman’s willingness to dive into a new challenge is not only evocative of his adventurous mindset but also a great testament to Kirkland’s entrepreneurial spirit...Read More ...
A Career that Chose Him
Andrew grew up a sports fanatic and long thought that he would make a career in the sports industry. At Northwestern University he studied journalism and held various internships covering sports teams. But, the field of journalism is changing and the chances of creating a viable career-path are slim. Recognizing that he needed to adjust his plan, Andrew considered becoming a sports agent and briefly interned at a top agency. However, the life of a sports agent wasn’t for him, “I knew I wanted to be involved in complex business issues, and being a sports agent is more about managing complex personalities.”
Like many young talented college graduates facing uncertain career prospects, Andrew decided to take the LSAT and go to law school. New York had long been considered home so Andrew decided on Fordham.
An Invaluable Kirkland Experience
After briefly working at another firm, Andrew moved to Kirkland’s New York office in the corporate department. “Right off the bat at Kirkland I decided to take on a lot and gain a ton of experience by just digging in. From day one, I was going full speed.”
Andrew credits Kirkland for teaching him how to be an attorney and also think like a business partner. “Kirkland was a great experience. Every day I was wrestling with interesting clients and complex problems. I was able to learn from some really great attorneys. One thing I recognized when I ultimately left for Uber is that Kirkland allowed me to take ownership of deals as a relatively young attorney. I had experience well beyond my seniority level.”
An Exciting Opportunity at Uber
After several years in New York, Andrew and his wife made the decision to move west to San Francisco. They had long thought about the move, and the time was right, particularly with Kirkland’s thriving San Francisco practice. But as fate would have it, Andrew’s career took a turn when an unexpected opportunity came up at Uber. The managing counsel for corporate legal in San Francisco was just hired at Uber and was looking to build his legal team in short order. He reached out to Andrew through a mutual colleague and, before he knew it, Andrew accepted the job, moved his life, and was working at Uber.
According to Andrew, the work at Uber is fast paced, intense and interesting. Andrew handles corporate work, M&A, financings (equity and debt) and other strategic transactions. In the 22 months since Andrew started, Uber has continued its tremendous growth.
“I love to work at Uber because I get to touch so many different things. We are running at a sprint pace — which obviously can be challenging. But I am getting to take ideas and then build them out and make them happen. It is really very exciting.”
Andrew credits his time at Kirkland for helping him navigate the novel issues Uber confronts; “A lot of the knowledge and experience I gained at Kirkland helps me even in things that are not in the legal realm. The ability I had to work directly with clients and the responsibility I was given early in my career has been tremendously important for me here at Uber.”
Andrew’s can-do spirit served him well at Kirkland and is now helping him contribute to Uber’s mission. We are proud to have him as a colleague for life!
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Legal Officer
Vista Equity Partners
Rising to the very top of the legal world involves many things — determination, hard work, and a spirit that calls on you to jump at new challenges and opportunities. After a hugely successful career at Kirkland, alumnus David Breach now sits as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Legal Officer at Vista Equity Partners. Drawing on a well-earned reputation for closing some of the biggest deals in the world while at Kirkland, David now brings his unmatched energy and strategic insight into growing one of the premier private equity shops in the country. David’s tenacity and commitment to achieving the best results for his partners is a testament to the Kirkland spirit...Read More ...
The Career Before His Career
David’s journey to Vista started in an unlikely place — rural Canada. Born to hard working and self-made parents, David’s father worked as a manager for A&P, the large grocery store chain. Working up the ranks at A&P, David’s father moved the family to Detroit when David was 13 years old.
Always verbal and bright, David started college at 16 years old. Attending classes and studying were not the only things on David’s mind while at college — David began working full time in food sales and finished his studies by taking night classes. David recalls “for as long as I can remember, I liked to work, and I liked to work hard.”
Following in his parents’ tradition of choosing a career and working hard, David quickly rose to become Vice President of a juice bottling company before the age of 25. Despite liking his work, David felt there were bigger things he could do with his drive and determination. He enrolled in law school, ultimately graduating magna cum laude at Michigan. “Since the time I was 8 years old, I always said I wanted to be a lawyer” David maintains. “I absolutely loved law school and have loved being a lawyer.”
Creating a Legacy at Kirkland
Given his propensity for verbal jousting, David always thought he would be a litigator. However, when starting his career at the top-rated Detroit law firm of Honigman, Schwartz and Cohn, David quickly saw that his business experience would be valuable in the world of corporate law. “My work experience helped me talk the language of business and helped me become a more persuasive negotiator. Corporate law was a perfect fit.”
After five years at Honigman, David was hired by Kirkland in 1999 and moved to Chicago. David was put on a team with Jeff Hammes and worked extensively on Bain Capital deals. “I loved Kirkland. It was such a fast-moving place with such great work. I believed then and I believe now — Kirkland is the best firm in the world.”
When Kirkland began considering opening a San Francisco office, David was approached about being part of the team to lead the new office. “I was amazed that the Firm Committee would ask me” David recalls, “but I figured this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have to jump at it.”
David moved out to San Francisco in 2002 and, working closely with Jeff, David was part of the leadership team that grew the office from less than 10 to over one hundred attorneys. “Building the San Francisco office was one of the most professionally rewarding experiences of my life. To help build such a high-caliber team with such great clients remains something that I am really proud of.”
A New Challenge — Vista Equity Partners
In 2015 David moved from Kirkland, where he was a member of the Firm Committee, to Vista Equity Partners. In talking about the move, David says “I had one of the best legal jobs on earth and never thought I would leave Kirkland. I loved my clients and my colleagues. I got the one phone call that could make me rethink my future.”
David had been representing Vista since 2003. “The two co-founders of Vista, Robert Smith and Brian Sheth, had engineered a meteoric rise, built a terrific culture, and wanted me to have a senior leadership role in the continuing growth and future of Vista. It was an exciting opportunity for me and would provide me with a new set of professional development experiences.”
At Vista, David divides him time between leading the operational elements of the firm, advising on the business and legal aspects of Vista’s most important transactions, and developing Vista’s strategic planning and execution. “I am really enjoying Vista because I am involved in so many different aspects of the firm. My role here gives me new insights into being a lawyer.”
Forever a Kirkland-ManDavid’s career is a testament to the Kirkland tradition of working hard and always jumping at new opportunities and new challenges. Having risen to become one of the top lawyers in the country, David’s new position at Vista allows him to bring the expertise he gained at Kirkland to a new forum. “I wouldn’t be where I am without the opportunities that Kirkland offered me. Kirkland gives young people the ability to take on responsibility and I am incredibly thankful for that.” We, too, are thankful to have David Breach as an alumnus.
Founder & CEO
Today, Kirkland alumni Wilson Tsu and Dan Hodgman run a growing technology company with six full-time employees and five part-time workers. As the leadership team of the company LearnLeo, Dan and Wilson are making the law school experience more efficient, practical and modern - and, in doing so, they are putting their talents and drive to good use...Read More ...
The Development of LearnLeo
Wilson, who started his career as an engineer for IBM, had long planned to combine his engineering and legal background with a commitment to education. He just didn’t know exactly how to make that happen. Wilson’s experience at Northwestern University School of Law, however, helped create what today is a fast growing company looking to change and modernize legal education.
“When I was at IBM as an engineer” Wilson recalls “I was surrounded by cutting edge technology that made my work easier and more efficient. When I went back to law school, it was as if I went back tens of years. The long books, the highlighting, the handwritten case briefs -- it seemed grossly inefficient.”
Shortly after leaving Kirkland in 2011, Wilson set out to create and market a new technology that helps law students better organize and use their notes - he named the company LearnLeo. Wilson says, “I wanted to change how law students experience the classroom and legal education.”
LearnLeo allows a law student to read cases on their computer, highlight specific sections on the screen, and then by simply clicking a button LearnLeo reorganizes the case into a color-coded and easily used case brief. Wilson says it “greatly reduces the inefficiency and redundancy of the law school experience."
The Growth of LearnLeo
After creating LearnLeo, Wilson knew he needed both investors and advisors. Dan and Wilson had become friends as Restructuring Associates in Kirkland’s Chicago office and, knowing Dan’s ability, Wilson reached out to Dan for advice. Dan recalls “Wilson used those of us who were still practicing at Kirkland as a soundboard and through that process I became more involved at LearnLeo.” In 2014, after over six years at Kirkland, Dan joined full time and now serves as the company’s VP.
LearnLeo’s primary tool continues to be for law students and currently students at over 170 law schools use the product. But, like any business founded by entrepreneurs, LearnLeo is growing and developing new products. LearnLeo is actively selling unique recruiting software to law firms to help them target top legal talent. Dan and Wilson hope to bring the same benefits of technology to law firms looking to make the right hires. Dan said that LearnLeo “has a strategy for growth and we are excited about developing new tools that help both law students and law firms.”
Dan and Wilson are both great examples of how the entrepreneurial spirit runs deep at Kirkland. In their pursuit of solving problems they experienced both prior to and during their time at Kirkland, Wilson and Dan have created a technology, started a company and are transforming legal education. We are proud to have them as alumni.
CEO & Founder
The entrepreneurial life is designed for Kirkland alum Nehal Madhani. The energy, the risk, the need to constantly learn and adapt, have created the perfect arena for the current CEO and Founder of Alt Legal to harness his innate skills and steer his company into becoming a major player in the legal technology industry. Nehal’s entrepreneurial spirit and his fierce dedication to excellence embody Kirkland’s culture and we are proud to have him as an alumnus...Read More ...
The entrepreneurial life is designed for Kirkland alum Nehal Madhani. The energy, the risk, the need to constantly learn and adapt, have created the perfect arena for the current CEO and Founder of Alt Legal to harness his innate skills and steer his company into becoming a major player in the legal technology industry. Nehal’s entrepreneurial spirit and his fierce dedication to excellence embody Kirkland’s culture and we are proud to have him as an alumnus.
A First Taste of Business
After growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Nehal chose to attend Northwestern University, where he studied both Biology and Economics. “At the time, I was debating between medicine and law” Nehal recalls; “So I decided to study both.”
And ultimately, Nehal decided to pursue law. “The old saying is true, you really can do anything with a law degree.”
Despite double majoring and doing a seemingly endless array of activities and jobs, Nehal managed to start a business while an undergraduate. The concept was simple — forming an internal online marketplace that allowed Northwestern students to sell goods to one another. To add credibility and sophistication to his business concept, Nehal worked with lawyers from a local Small Business Development Center. “I loved working with the lawyers and really started to see how law shapes every business decision. Starting the business in college really set me on a path to what I am doing now.”
Law School and Kirkland
After graduating from Northwestern, Nehal chose University of Pennsylvania for law school. Already thinking of himself as a mix between a businessman and a lawyer, Nehal took advantage of the law school’s close association with Wharton. “The interdisciplinary approach of the law school meant that I was able to learn a great deal about business and I even spent an entire semester taking business classes at Wharton.”
Following his time at Penn, in 2009 Nehal started as a restructuring associate in the Firm’s New York office. “The economy was really turbulent, but that provided a huge amount opportunity. I was thrown in the deep end of the pool and I got to run with with anything I could handle.”
Nehal recalls Kirkland being a place where he learned how to be a lawyer because he was able witness the very best in action. He particularly remembers being mentored by David Meyer and Brian Schartz. “Those two guys really invested in me learning to be a lawyer. They gave excellent feedback and went above and beyond with their time and guidance.”
Forging His Own Path
After four years at Kirkland, and with an-ever present entrepreneurial itch, Nehal started to plot his next step. “The thing that excites me is starting something from nothing. It’s like jumping out of a plane and building a parachute mid-air.”
Seeing an opportunity to enhance legal technology, Nehal first taught himself a computer language to develop a software package that connected small law firms with small companies in need of representation. Nehal quickly discovered that the idea was not easily monetized. He had to change directions.
Rather than being discouraged, he refined the technology he had developed and focused it on the world of intellectual property. Nehal’s software makes it easy to create and manage IP filings. His software works with IP offices around world to automate the labyrinth of IP filing logistics and docket management. Where his competitors are built for a world of paper filings and hard copy dockets, Nehal’s company, Alt Legal, is bringing the world of IP docket management into the 21st Century. Since Alt Legal’s inception in late 2014, Nehal has taken on two business partners (including former Kirkland IP paralegal, Charles Amoako) and they are rapidly developing clients.
“This is very much the life I thought I would be living,” Nehal says. “By running my own business I learn every day. I never want to stop learning.”
If Nehal’s past is prologue, he will use his endless capacity to blaze a trail that makes a lasting impact.
CF Industries Holdings, Inc.
Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary
Sixteen and FamousDoug Barnard had always been an overachiever. Growing-up in rural Minnesota, he’d gone to a one-room country school where he “was the only kid in my grade.” Having then skipped a couple of grades, he found himself a freshman at world-famous MIT at age 16. It was, he recalls, “quite a shock.” Not least when a Harvard undergrad asked him: “Where did you prep?” His answer: “Cambridge [Minnesota].” During college, Barnard rowed on the crew team, and he recently donated a racing shell to MIT in fond memory of his own experiences on the Charles River... Read More ...
Mentored at Kirkland
After law school at Minnesota, Barnard’s initial job was at McDermott, where, as a first-year, he drafted the nation’s second-ever takeover-defense poison pill (for Bell & Howell).
A legal recruiter sent the young associate Kirkland’s way where he swiftly came into Jack Levin’s orbit, doing LBO work, fund formations, “as well as the occasional venture capital deal.” Jack Levin, Barnard says, “is a born teacher. His explanations are lucid and so well-organized - he can make anything seem simple.” Barnard was obviously an apt pupil because Levin eventually asked him to help collaborate on the iconic M&A law casebook he famously co-authored through many editions with the late Martin Ginsburg (the Georgetown Law professor-husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg).
Among the Kirkland lawyers with whom the young Barnard worked were Jeff Hammes, “who was a couple years younger,” Carter Emerson, Kirk Radke, Kevin Evanich, Karl Lutz, Ted Swan, and Bill Kirsch.
Decision to go In House
After receiving his M.B.A. at the University of Chicago’s Booth School, and “with my history of doing deals at Kirkland,” Barnard decided to give corporate life a try. It turned out to be a good decision long-term, but a bumpy ride for the short term. Today, he recalls how, in 1992, “I gravitated to a building products company, Masco, whose whole business revolved around doing deals. Four years later, I worked on the sale of Masco’s furniture division to Citigroup in a $1 billion LBO, and then followed Masco’s president to the portfolio company and became its general counsel.” The timing was not propitious: “A few years later, the company shuttered its largest division, and sold the rest off in pieces, eventually succumbing to Chinese competition.”
Barnard returned briefly to Kirkland in 2000, jumping into the Dot-Com Boom, “just as it was about to burst.” Next, Barnard took advantage of an opportunity to go in-house at Bcom3 (Leo Burnett), in order to work on Bcom3’s announced plans for an IPO. However, Bcom3’s CEO soon changed his mind about the IPO, and instead Barnard helped sell Bcom3 to Paris-based Publicis Groupe for $3 billion.
From Dot-Com to Fertilizer? A Successful Transition to CF Industries
At this point, Barnard’s luck truly did change, although it was not immediately apparent: In 2004, when his wife Rose did not want to move to Silicon Valley so Barnard could follow Bcom3 Chairman Roy Bostock to Yahoo, Barnard joined CF Industries, “thinking it was temporary, until I could find something better.” CF was a sleepy little agriculture co-op, an agrichemical company that had lost money for five straight years and was on the verge of bankruptcy. Barnard’s first assignment was to work on a sale of CF to its Canadian rival Agrium, which had expressed lukewarm interest in a transaction at $10 per share.
Instead, Barnard helped take CF Industries public in 2005 at $16 per share. Incredibly, just two years later, the company had emerged as the top-performer on the entire NYSE, with its stock rising to over $170 per share. The Financial Crisis was not kind to CF, however, and its stock declined 70% at the end of 2008.
In early 2009, CF Industries launched a hostile takeover offer for rival Terra Industries, only to find itself one month later on the receiving end of a hostile takeover offer from Agrium seeking to take over CF instead. The three-way takeover battle dragged on for nearly a year, with CF in the middle playing both offense and defense. In late 2009, when CF won a proxy contest to seat three directors on Terra’s board, the new Terra directors surprised everyone by joining the incumbents in unanimously rejecting CF’s new, higher offer for Terra. Soon afterwards, the reason was revealed when CF’s European rival Yara announced it had signed a “white knight” deal to acquire Terra. Barnard recognized that, by accepting Yara’s offer, Terra’s board had turned the takeover battle into an “absolute auction” under Revlon, thereby allowing CF to put in a higher, “topping” bid to acquire Terra. When CF put in its topping bid, Yara refused to raise its initial bid. As a result, in rapid succession, Terra accepted CF’s higher offer, Agrium dropped its hostile pursuit of CF, and CF succeeded in acquiring Terra for $4 billion in mid 2010.
Last year, CF Industries and Yara were in discussions regarding a potential “merger of equals” that would have created the largest company in the global fertilizer industry. News of the discussions leaked, however, and the parties eventually called off the transaction. CF is also in the midst of a major capacity expansion, spending $4 billion to construct new chemical plants in Iowa and Louisiana.
CF Industries’ stock continues to outperform, and it was recently trading for over $300 per share. Barnard explains that CF has benefitted from the shale gas revolution in North America, which has caused the price of its raw material, natural gas to plummet over the ten-year period since its 2005 IPO. To put the ten-year stock price performance in perspective, CF went public one year after Google’s IPO. Since their respective IPOs, CF’s stock has increased more than half again as much as Google’s stock has in percentage terms.
Barnard and his wife Rose live in Winnetka, where they raised three children. In addition to serving as CF Industries’ general counsel, Barnard is a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches a seminar on mergers and acquisitions and is writing a casebook. Barnard also serves on the Development Committee of the MIT Corporation, where Rose and he help support research into neurodegenerative diseases.
Pepperdine University School of Law
Director of Global Justice Program and Professor of Law
Specialist Advisor to the Ugandan High Court
Jim Gash still can’t believe he serves as the Specialist Advisor to the Ugandan High Court. After leaving Kirkland & Ellis in 1999 to become a law professor at Pepperdine, his journey to becoming an instrumental figure in reforming the criminal justice landscape in Uganda mirrored the winding track of the Nile River. In that journey, Jim has gone on to touch thousands of lives, teaming his legal expertise with a compassionate heart to bring progress to a country that has become a second home...Read More ...
From Quarterback to Court Rooms
Jim grew up in Northern California in a family of athletes. As an athlete himself, Jim earned a football scholarship at Abilene Christian University majoring in Finance. Jim never thought about law school until the Dean for the relatively young Pepperdine Law School came out to recruit top students, and his vision to marry a world-class academic environment with a relationship-based community struck a chord with Jim. The fact that he’d be living in Malibu didn’t hurt either.
Jim excelled at Pepperdine and loved law school. He loved the faculty, the campus, and learning and debating the law. He devoted himself to being a successful law student and embraced the many leadership opportunities that arose from his efforts. One such opportunity was driving Ken Starr -- then the Solicitor General -- to the airport after Ken visited the campus to judge a moot court competition. During that ride, Jim and Ken began an unlikely friendship that would become instrumental in shaping the direction of Jim’s entire career.
Life as a Lawyer
After he graduated from Pepperdine, Jim served as a law clerk to the Honorable Edith H. Jones, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. When his term was ending, Jim called on Ken Starr for advice on the next stage of his career. Ken, who was then a Kirkland partner, suggested Jim interview with Kirkland’s D.C. office and, in the fall of 1995, Jim accepted a position in Kirkland’s D.C. Appellate practice.
Jim remembers Kirkland as a place of true excellence. “As someone who grew up in sports, Kirkland’s competitive culture was really awesome” Jim recalls. “Adrenaline no longer came from being on the football field -- it came from out maneuvering, out strategizing, and out working the other side. I loved Kirkland because it had that culture of winning that was so important to me.” After being tagged to work on a series of litigation cases with Rick Richmond, Jim moved out to Kirkland’s LA office. While in LA, Jim worked closely with Jeff Davidson who he remembers as a “fantastic lawyer, who taught me to always do the very best work.”
Back to the Class Room (and Malibu)
Although he loved Kirkland, his experience at Pepperdine was never far from his heart. So when in 1999 the Pepperdine faculty called and offered him a position, Jim knew he was meant to return. Jim’s work teaching Torts, Evidence, and Legal Ethics, combined with his publishing credentials, earned him tenure in 2005.
During that same time period, Jim was called on to evaluate the Deanship potential of an old friend -- Ken Starr. When Ken was chosen to become the Dean of Pepperdine Law, a friendship that began between a 3L law student and a Solicitor General of the United States became a working relationship between a Dean and his new Associate Dean for Student Life.
An Unexpected Opportunity in Africa
It began as something small. In 2007, two Pepperdine law students approached Jim about traveling to Uganda with a lawyer named Bob Goff to see if Pepperdine could be of assistance to the Ugandan judiciary. After these students returned, Pepperdine approved their proposal for them and two classmates to serve as judicial externs that summer. Like a small feeder stream that grows into a powerful river, the students’ experience served as the spark that changed Jim’s life and propelled him in a new and unexpected direction.
What started with four students, turned into 10 students the next year. A year after that, Ken Starr traveled to Uganda and came back with a Memorandum of Understanding between Pepperdine and the Ugandan judiciary to train them on Alternative Dispute Resolution practices, in addition to establishing a formal fellowship program for a Pepperdine law graduate to continually serve as an in-country fellow. The relationship was becoming a big part of Pepperdine’s mission.
Until that point, Jim was a cheerleader for the program. But in 2009, after hearing a powerful speech by the same Bob Goff who had inspired Jim’s students, Jim decided to get involved himself. Jim recalls thinking, “I came to the realization that I needed to act. I embraced the idea that ‘love is a verb’ and I decided to travel to Uganda. I would never have imagined it. In many ways, I still can’t believe the direction my life has taken.”
It was on his first visit that Jim saw the breadth of the problem. Traveling to a rural pre-trial juvenile detention facility, Jim saw 21 teenage prisoners, confined to a single room, with no lawyers, no court dates, and no future. They were simply waiting; living out their days with little hope that their stories would be heard or that justice would be met. In a single week, Jim and three Pepperdine alums prepared all 21 cases for trial. Along the way, Jim took a deep interest in the plight of one young man named Henry, who was facing two very specious murder charges. Through Jim’s efforts over five years, including representing Henry in the Ugandan Court of Appeals as the first American lawyer ever to appear in Ugandan court, Henry has now been entirely exonerated. Henry recently completed his first year of medical school, working to become a doctor in Uganda. Henry and Jim still talk every week.
Since that first visit in early 2010, Jim has traveled back to the country 17 times, including living in Uganda with his family for six months. With each visit, his involvement gets more robust. What started as preparing cases for individual juvenile prisoners has turned into a formal relationship with the Ugandan judiciary to train attorneys and judges, institute plea bargaining nationwide, and implement systematic reforms of the Ugandan criminal justice system. Jim has been named a Specialist Advisor to the Ugandan High Court. Jim’s book entitled Divine Collision will hit bookstores in January of 2016, and a documentary entitled Remand will be completed this fall.
From the hills of Northern California to the flats of Abilene, Texas, from the powerful edifices of Washington D.C., to the inspiring classrooms of Pepperdine Law, and from the halls of Kirkland’s LA office all the way to the dirt floored detention facilities in Uganda, Jim Gash’s life has indeed been a winding route. While not always knowing where the journey would end, Jim had faith in the direction of his path and has made important and lasting contributions at each turn. Kirkland is proud to have him as an alumnus.
Associate General Counsel, Director of Patent Litigation
Kirkland alum Ben Ostapuk recognizes the irony of a Philosophy major becoming the Director of Patent Litigation at Intel. Indeed, in a type of law known for its technical complexity, Ben’s decision in college to transfer away from Physics and into Philosophy didn’t make patent law an obvious career path. However, Ben’s multicultural family history and his innate listening and interpersonal skills, allow him to translate the complexities of patent law into an everyday language that is invaluable to his clients and business partners...Read More ...
From Physics to Philosophy
Ben grew up in Tucson, Arizona in a family of high achieving lawyers. His mother, one of the first Latinas to enroll and graduate from the University of Arizona Law School, went on to become an Executive Director of a large non-profit and an Arizona State Senator. His father, a Polish-American with a deep reverence for the law, enjoyed a long and successful solo legal practice before becoming a magistrate judge.
Although Ben was raised by lawyers, he went off to Cornell to become a physicist. Ben recalls Cornell being “an incredible place. It was a place where everyone was smart and engaged and really interesting.” It was also a place where he “learned very quickly that I was not going to be the next great Noble Laureate for physics. The other people were just too smart.”
While humbled by the technical brilliance of some of his classmates, Ben realized that he was particularly effective in communicating complex ideas into digestible nuggets, and honed his writing and communication skills by pursuing a degree in Philosophy. It was not long after graduating that he decided to dive into the family business and head to Stanford for law school.
A Meandering Path to Kirkland
Evidencing an entrepreneurial spirit early in his career, Ben and some classmates cut out on their own and started a law firm after graduating Stanford Law. While an “enlightening experience,” Ben soon accepted his first civil-practice job at a small San Francisco office of a mid-size California firm. Soon after, he was recruited by the Palo Alto office of Skadden when they opened their Silicon Valley office in 1999. When their patent litigation practice didn’t take off as expected, Ben saw an opening when Kirkland opened its San Francisco office and decided to join the firm in 2003.
Joining the Kirkland IP Litigation Team
It was at Kirkland where Ben cut his teeth as a patent litigator. Joining Kirkland when the San Francisco office had only one partner and two associates (including him) on the IP team, he watched the San Francisco office transform into a large and important presence in the Bay area over the course of his seven years with the Firm. Ben remembers Kirkland always being an “education in excellence. Kirkland had some of the most gifted trial attorneys I had ever seen.”
Playing into his natural acumen for communicating the complex, Ben found that “the Kirkland IP team not only knew the science, it knew how to talk about it so that a judge and a jury would understand.” Beyond the top notch trial advocacy, there was “a sense that Kirkland attorneys were also important strategic advisors to their clients.” Amongst many others, Ben credits Greg Arovas for developing his IP litigation skills, and remembers Steven Johnson for mentoring him on professionalism and how to become an invaluable client advisor.
An Opportunity at Intel
In 2010, while on vacation in Japan, Ben got an email alerting him to an opportunity to join the in-house patent team at Intel. At first thinking this could prove an interesting client development opportunity, Ben took a meeting in Silicon Valley. On a perfect 75 degree California day, Ben had a great meeting, decided to plunge into the interview process, and was offered the position a few months later.
Having spent his first 4 years at Intel as a Patent Team Leader, Ben drew on his training at Kirkland to advise on litigation strategy and risk assessment. “Kirkland positioned me to have sound judgment on business risks and helped me develop my intuition on how to speak plainly to clients assessing the marketplace. In my years since leaving Kirkland it is all the more clear that my experience was really unique.”
Director of Patent Litigation at Intel
Recently promoted to Director of Patent Litigation, Ben now views himself as much a patent litigator as a “strategic business advisor.” Dealing with important issues in both Europe and China, the international scope of his work is something Ben relishes. “The personal nature of my work is really important. As someone who grew up in a multicultural home, having an ability to learn about another culture, to listen to people and understand their perspective — these things are really essential in my role. If you do not try to understand the people involved, you simply cannot be successful.”
The University of Chicago
Vice President and General Counsel
Kim Taylor is not someone who is afraid of change. Indeed, in a career of outstanding breadth and diversity, the one constant has been her willingness to face new challenges head on. From rising to be a top corporate partner at Kirkland's New York office, to a small practice in Cape Cod, and now as the General Counsel for the University of Chicago, Kim's career path may be unique, but her success has not been crafted alone. At each step, her career was also defined by the talented and dedicated colleagues that surrounded her...Read More ...
Starting at Kirkland — A Great Group of People
After nine years on the west coast at The University of California, Kim began her career in Kirkland's New York office. Although in her 18 years at Kirkland she would see the office grow to over 350 attorneys, Kim joined the New York office in 1993 as the lone transactional associate in her review class, in an office of only 40 lawyers. What Kim remembers is that the office was "full of great people — smart, driven, scrappy people — lawyers who worked hard and gave their clients excellent advice, many of whom became my close friends." Early on, she was given significant responsibility and was expected to work hard and perform at a top level. "I loved it," Kim reflects, "Kirkland was an incredible place to start my career."
Kim remembers starting out on Citicorp Venture Capital deals with Steve Zide, Eunu Chun and Kirk Radke. While at Kirkland, Kim had the opportunity to work with many lawyers across several offices: Josh Korff, Kevin Treesh, Steve Fraidin, David Fox, Yosef Riemer, Scott Price, Patrick Gallagher, Linda Myers, David Eaton, Mike Edsall, Adrian van Schie, Walt Lohmann, Jennifer Morgan, Jai Agrawal, Vicki Hood, Markus Bolsinger and Ashley Gregory. "Kirkland attorneys are smart, strategic and commercial. We worked hard and we had fun. There was never a time when I finished a deal and wished that I worked for the firm on the on other side."
Despite consistently adding attorneys, Kim was always impressed with how Kirkland was able to grow the firm without sacrificing the culture that makes it unique. "Kirkland is a place where the attorneys become advisors and partners with their clients. There are no 'backroom' lawyers at Kirkland."
True to a spirit that takes on challenges, in her time at Kirkland, Kim became an influential attorney and leader. Not only did she become an important mentor to tons of junior attorneys, she also served in significant leadership roles, leaving an indelible mark on Kirkland's culture. Kim's legacy as a leader is significant — she served as the hiring partner for the New York office, a member of the Associate Review Committee, a member of the management committee of the New York Office and a co-founder of Kirkland's Women's Leadership Initiative.
A Move to Cape Cod and a New Opportunity
In 2009, after nearly 20 years of a fast-paced practice, two growing children, and a husband with a demanding career of his own as the Publisher for Town & Country Magazine, Kim's family changed directions. After years of traveling to Cape Cod and having family in the area, the family made the jump full time to the small beach community. "It was quite the transition to go from New York to this small vacation community" Kim recalls. "But, it was an important thing for my family."
The move did not mean an end to Kim's career. Instead, she joined a small, but sophisticated, practice at the firm Hilton & Bishop P.C. Kim continued to work with many of her clients, primarily from New York, on smaller matters that didn't warrant New York's billing rates. In several instances, Kim coordinated closely with her colleagues from Kirkland.
A retired deal lawyer from Boston met Kim on the Cape and asked her to represent the world renowned Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole. Because of her deal background at Kirkland, the MBL asked Kim to operate as their in-house counsel as they went through the process of being acquired by the University of Chicago. Little did she know, the other side of the transaction foreshadowed a future opportunity. An opportunity that, once again, would demand Kim change directions and move her talents to a new organization.
The University of Chicago Comes Calling
In 2013, the University of Chicago began a search for a new General Counsel. Several months into the search the University reached out to Kim. The University was looking for someone who was not just an attorney, but could also act as a strategic advisor on a range of issues that spanned the University's international affiliations and government regulation of research, to student and medical privacy issues to environmental remediation and University litigation. Having seen her in action for the Marine Biological Laboratory, the University decided to call Kim.
At the University of Chicago, Kim has found a great fit. Advising on a range of issues, Kim says that she "draws on [her] time at Kirkland every single day." "At Kirkland I learned to parachute in to a particular situation and quickly get up to speed on the legal issues. I learned to collaborate with expert colleagues to assess the risks and put together a recommended plan for the client. I feel privileged to have worked with world class lawyers across broad range of fields."
Chicago is also an ideal home for her family. She and her husband and two children — now 13 and 11 — live in Hyde Park and the kids attend the Lab Schools. They all get to experience life in the University's community surrounded by new opportunities and new adventures.
Angelo, Gordon & Co.
Chief Administrative Officer and Member, Firm Executive Committee
There is modest — and there is truly modest. When you talk to Kirk Wickman, be prepared to hear a lot more about his family than his stellar career in law and business. That career has taken him from Kirkland associate to partner, to a series of general counsel positions at Aetna, Skandia and Morgan Stanley, and ultimately Chief Administrative Officer of employee-owned financial services powerhouse Angelo, Gordon & Co. in New York...Read More ...
When you ask Kirk how he came to be at Kirkland, he first gives you a two-word answer: "Dallin Oaks." "Dallin was first in his class at the University of Chicago Law School, clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren, joined Kirkland for a few years, then Dean of the University of Chicago Law School, President of Brigham Young University, Chairman of PBS, and an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A really impressive guy and a wonderful human being."
Once at Kirkland, Glen Hess and Carter Emerson "were my two go-to guys and great mentors." Glen Hess, Wickman says, "was the perfect example of a commercial lawyer. He wasn't a big fan of doing anything by form — he felt that form documents shut off the brain." From Carter Emerson, Wickman says he learned the ins-and-outs of private equity.
There were also fellow young Kirkland lawyers, who have stayed good friends and who influenced Wickman's career, Lance Balk, today the executive vice president and general counsel of Six Flags, for example, and Dan Yih, today the COO of Starwood Capital.
"I was very unique at Kirkland. I was married with two children when I joined the Firm. A different situation."
He had his priorities, beginning with family and church, where he has long been a bishop (or pastor), "doing weddings, funerals, and even marriage and financial counseling — which was very hard."
He and his wife Sheryle, who met as undergraduates at Dartmouth over 35 years ago, also have a lot to be proud of in their three sons, Tom, Nate and Forrest. Their eldest son, Thomas M. Wickman, is a history professor at Trinity College in Hartford. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard and is currently working on a book entitled Snowshoe Country: Indians, Colonists, and Winter Spaces of Power in the American Northeast. Middle son Nate, a Northwestern University grad, is an options trader on the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (the CBOE). Youngest son Forrest, also a Northwestern grad, is a senior editor at Slate, where he both writes and edits the culture blog, "Brow Beat."
Kirk's views on Kirkland — "Kirkland was where I learned the practice of law, and I remain a huge fan of the firm."
Senior Legal Counsel
Jenny Lee has always been on the move. She was born in Texas, grew up in Las Vegas, attended college in Houston and law school in Boston, began her career at Kirkland’s New York office, and currently works in California as Senior Legal Counsel at Apple Inc. Through all the change, her impressive climb seems to have followed a purposeful, pre-determined plan. But looks can be deceiving. Jenny’s success has been a blend of hard work and serendipity...Read More ...
Jenny did not always know she wanted to be a lawyer. Drawn to policy and medical health, she attended college at Rice University in Houston with plans to either become a doctor or spend a career in public health. Plans changed when she studied abroad in Vienna, and discovered her interest in the law. Seeing law school as a way to open up a wide variety of opportunities, Jenny enrolled at Harvard Law School. Her IP classes stood out as the most interesting subject matter, and Jenny decided to pursue a career doing IP work.
Jenny started her career in Kirkland's New York office as an IP transactional attorney. As she puts it, she chose Kirkland because "it had the reputation for having the best work in the city and the most sophisticated IP work around." She also "looked at the mid-level associate surveys in New York, and Kirkland stood out for its ability to retain its mid-level associate ranks." The office was full of "young, energetic and likable" attorneys who made Jenny immediately "feel at home."
Starting at Kirkland in 2001 during a small recession allowed Jenny to immediately jump on several interesting pro bono cases, including a rather complex trademark case involving ceramics designer Eva Zeisel. After a year and a half in the IP Transactional Group, Jenny switched over to IP Litigation. While on the IP Litigation Team, Jenny worked on a variety of technologies, including computer communication protocols (Lucent v. Microsoft, Dell, Gateway), semiconductor manufacturing processes (Agere v. Atmel), and telecommunications (Samsung v. Ericsson).
As Jenny progressed in her career, she had the good fortune of learning directly from people like Bob Appleby, David Callahan, Barry Irwin, Perry Clark, Michael Stadnick, Seth Traxler, Carolyn Edgar, and Michael Flaschen. She continues to think highly of many of her former colleagues at Kirkland.
In 2006, Jenny moved her practice to Kirkland's San Francisco office, where she made partner in 2007. In 2010, Kirkland's client Cisco required in-house assistance with its patent litigation matters, and Jenny volunteered for secondment, which lasted for approximately a year. It was her "first opportunity to work in an in-house setting" and she relished the opportunity to focus all of her energies on one client, as well as the high-level strategy involved in coordinating multiple cases with overlapping issues.
Upon returning to Kirkland in spring of 2011, Jenny was approached by Apple about a Senior Legal Counsel position in their hardware legal team, which would focus on silicon engineering support. The move made sense because of her interest in silicon engineering (piqued by her semiconductor manufacturing patent litigation cases). Her new role offered her opportunities to work with the very best silicon engineers in the world, pushing both the boundaries of silicon design and physics. As she has stated, "I get to work on some of the most cutting-edge technology in the world." Her days are spent providing legal support to Apple's new silicon initiatives that enable features in Apple products to be released in the future.
From Harvard to Kirkland, New York to San Francisco, and now on to Apple, Jenny's career is defined by making the most of the opportunities presented. Jenny is grateful for her time at Kirkland and remembers her colleagues fondly. When not working to bring you future Apple products, Jenny loves throwing dinner parties, yoga, and raising her nine year old son.
Los Angeles County Superior Court
“Adhere to the meritocracy.” This unique Kirkland philosophy spoke to Judge Tony Richardson when he decided to join Kirkland’s LA office in 1990. The idea that a lawyer’s success would not be defined by age or rank or background. The principle that if you were capable, worked hard and had unimpeachable character, you would be given an opportunity to prove yourself on any stage and in any company. “Adhere to the meritocracy”-- a concept displayed so brightly at the dawn of Kirkland’s LA office -- was what had defined Tony’s life as he rose within the legal profession. It also became an ethos that served as Tony’s North Star in shaping a career that has made a meaningful contribution to the legal world...Read More ...
An Unlikely Beginning
Tony's improbable journey to becoming a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court started on James Island, South Carolina. Tony grew up in the segregated south, at a time where skin color was too often used to limit dreams and stifle potential. As one of fourteen children, Tony grew up in a family short on material means, but long on values and rich with love. It was also a family that revered education and sacrificed for its pursuit.
Tony's high school class was the first to be desegregated. Always possessing an innate intellect, Tony rapidly became a standout student. Winning oratorical contests and receiving grades that put him at the very top of his class, Tony remembers the mix of pride and pressure he felt in being a standard-bearer. The profound hope in proving that he was as capable -- more capable -- than anyone in the school; and the heavy weight of carrying a community's struggle on his young shoulders. But Tony did not feel alone. "I remember the teacher's -- black and white -- supporting me and pushing me and being fair to me."
One teacher in particular could see that Tony's talent needed to be challenged. Seeing Tony's deep reservoir of talent and ambition, Mr. Bennett demanded that Tony apply to Exeter Academy, the exotic Preparatory school in New Hampshire. Reluctantly, Tony applied and was accepted to a summer program. Over a summer at Exeter, Tony remembers "meeting people from all over the world and literally feeling the possibilities for my life expand in front of my eyes." Tony was soon accepted to the full-time program. While the choice to move his life to Exeter was painful because he envisioned standing on the desegregated stage as Valedictorian of his high school in South Carolina, he decided to "further my education" and moved himself to the Northeast.
The Law as a Calling
After graduating from Exeter, Tony was admitted to Harvard. After four great years, Tony knew that he had spent long-enough in the cold New England north, and was accepted to Stanford Law School. The choice to pursue a career in law was one made with conviction. "Growing up in the south everything was related to the law. The law was a powerful weapon -- it was through the law that one could be useful and could make changes." Following law school, Tony accepted a clerkship with Judge David Williams, the first black federal judge west of the Mississippi.
The Choice of Kirkland -- Mentors and the Meritocracy
Following what he calls "an incredible experience" with Judge Williams, Tony's choice of Kirkland, after working as an associate at two local LA law firms, was unlikely. Having just opened the LA office in 1989, Kirkland was a newcomer on the LA legal scene. But with "young, salt of the earth, and incredibly smart" attorneys like Jeff Davidson, Phil Swain, Cynthia Barnes, Alex MacKinnon, Mike Baumann, John Zakrinson, Martin Boles and Mary Blodgett, to name a few, the choice was clear. "They really believed in this notion of meritocracy -- that if you are capable, you should be given the opportunity. They also ingrained in me the notions of always treating people the right way and always representing myself and our clients with integrity."
Tony spent 17 years at Kirkland, having a successful litigation career and taking on several leadership positions within the firm. Tony thinks of Kirkland as "an amazing place that offers boundless opportunities for its people to fulfill their potential and for its lawyers, in particular, to grow into the best lawyers, professionals and people they can be."
Becoming a Judge
While being a trial lawyer was always a dream, Tony had long thought about being on the other side of the courtroom. With encouragement from his wife Diana -- an accomplished attorney and businesswoman in her own right and the person Tony credits for his success -- he began to express an interest in becoming a Judge. In California, however, one does not just "become a Judge." Indeed, the Governor himself has to appoint you, and Tony "didn't exactly have the Governor's phone number." But, Tony's work and reputation -- largely fostered during his years at Kirkland -- spoke loudly and echoed all the way to Sacramento. On Christmas Day, 2012, Tony got the call, telling him that Governor Jerry Brown had appointed him to serve as a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Being a Judge is Tony's "dream job." "Each person that leaves my courtroom should feel that I am interested in justice -- that even if a ruling did not go their way, I treated them fairly." In his three years as a Judge, a highlight has been when he was asked by a fellow Kirkland alum, Erin Brady, currently a partner in Jones Day's LA restructuring group, to preside over the adoption of their child. "What a glorious moment to be able to serve in that role for a friend," Tony recalls.
In a career that started on the distant salt water tributaries of James Island and has reached the heights of a Judgeship in Los Angeles, Judge Richardson reflects that "you really need only be limited by your own ambitions. You can rise above inequality. You need others to join you on your journey, but we really do live in a country where you can shape the direction of your life, notwithstanding your circumstances."
Platte River Ventures
Founder and Managing Partner
J. Landis Martin, known to one and all as “Lanny,” was a small town Midwesterner who grew up in Grand Island, Nebraska on the north shore of the Platte River. The son of a homemaker and a vocational teacher, he was one of six kids in a devout Presbyterian family. “While my parents had modest income, they provided my siblings and me with a rich home life,” he recalls...Read More ...
Martin remembers the day when his high school counselor came to his class and told the teacher, “I want to talk to Martin. The director of admissions from Northwestern is here and he has a couple places open.” Martin’s jaw dropped: “I told the counselor that we could never afford it, but he said, ‘talk to the guy.’” He did, and he must have said something special that day because lo and behold, “I got an almost full scholarship.” He received a B.S. from Northwestern in 1968 which was followed by a J.D. with honors in 1973. Lanny credits his time at Northwestern and Kirkland to changing his life.
In his nearly 15 years at Kirkland (1973-1987), Martin progressed from associate to partner and ultimately Firm Executive Committee member. In that time, he was asked to help restructure one office (Washington) and start another (Denver in 1981). Elmer Johnson memorably said of him, “If you have a problem, there’s no one I’d rather turn to to fix it than Lanny. He is just a natural-born leader.” One of the people at Kirkland whom Martin quickly impressed was Elmer Johnson, a fellow Westerner from Denver. “But I had a host of mentors,” recalls Martin, “not just Elmer, but also Fred Bartlit, Frank Cicero, Bill Jentes, Jack Levin, and Don Kempf.” By 1987, Martin looked to be a sure-fire Kirkland lifer.
A Bold Move
However, in the spring of 1986, he found himself summoned to Texas by Harold Simmons. Simmons, the billionaire owner of Dallas-based Contran, had decided to make an unsolicited bid for NL Industries. It was not going to be easy, but then Harold Simmons was not your average corporate CEO either.
Along with a group of Kirkland attorneys including Tom Gottschalk, Phil Beck, Fred Bartlit and Jim Palenchar, Martin helped Simmons overcome a “poison pill” strategy in a celebrated takeover drama.
The billionaire clearly saw something in Lanny Martin then: A younger version of himself perhaps. And, like Harold Simmons, he’d brought brain and energy to bear while willing himself higher and higher.
Simmons was so impressed with Martin that he made him the pointman in his search for a new CEO. “I came back with a list of five,” recalls Martin, “and I was first on the list. I guess you could say that I did a ‘Dick Cheney.’ ”
Simmons obviously thought he made a good choice back then because Martin stayed to become not only president and CEO of NL Industries, Inc., but also Chairman and CEO of Baroid Corporation (today a part of Halliburton) and Chair and CEO of Titanium Metals Corporation.
Enjoying his Passions
Following his retirement in 2005, and after years of helping run the Simmons empire, the Nebraska boy founded his own private equity shop christened, appropriately enough, Platte River Equity. In just nine years, Platte River has achieved market-leading returns in its first two funds and has recently begun a third.
Lanny Martin and his wife Sharon have turned increasingly to charitable causes. Together, they are major donors to Northwestern University and its Law School. Meanwhile, Lanny has served as Chair of the Central City Opera and is currently Chair of both the Denver Art Museum (DAM) and the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation.
When they are not at home in Denver, they reside in their country place in Wickenberg. A friend introduced them to the place - situated in Arizona’s celebrated “Dude Country” - it was home to former Partner Elmer Johnson.