Colleagues for Life
At Kirkland & Ellis, we owe our success to our people — present and past — and are dedicated to remaining colleagues for life. Whether you retire from the Firm or leave as an associate, Kirkland appreciates your contribution and will continue to invest in your career.
A network is your strongest asset. The Kirkland & Ellis Alumni Engagement Program connects our esteemed alumni through the AlumniLink website, engaging networking and pro bono events, and life-long career support.
AlumniLink is a Kirkland exclusive site that provides our attorneys and alumni with resources at your fingertips. Benefits of AlumniLink include:
Alumni Events: Visit our video library
We know that not all attorneys follow the same path. The Kirkland CareerLink (KCL) program has been designed to aid our attorneys and alumni with confidential job search assistance and specific resources to help shape the direction of their careers. Benefits of CareerLink include:
Resume Review & Marketing Material
Exclusive Job Postings
Confidential Career Coaching: Contact a Career Coach
|Join the Attorney/Alumni LinkedIn Group.|
Executive Vice President and General Counsel
From the day she landed at Kirkland, Sue Bettman knew she wanted to be in the mix on deals. While still a summer associate, the University of Illinois College of Law grad had been working hard on an unfolding deal, the sale of a gas subsidiary belonging to the Zeigler Coal Company, a longtime Firm client...Read More ...
Then, on her first day as a full-time associate, Bettman was asked to work on the very project that she had "shadowed" during the summer. Somewhat to her surprise, Bettman found that she was allowed "to run with it" and even "got to do the deal," with, she adds, "the appropriate level of supervision." It was a heady introduction to the world she wanted to be a part of.
And it was just the beginning.
The week after the Zeigler deal closed, Bettman was assigned to a leveraged buy-out by client Bain Capital, working alongside senior associate Jim Learner and another brand new associate, Steve Ritchie. To this day, she remembers the close when a sick and exhausted Learner spent two days lying on a couch at White & Case. ("But he did get the deal done!" Bettman laughs.)
Over the next few years, Bettman worked with a host of Kirkland partners — and future partners — among them, Glen Hess, Bill Fraumann, Carter Emerson, Kevin Evanich, and Ken Morrison. "It seemed like I worked with everyone," Bettman recalls, in no small part because "at Kirkland, they took pride in not rushing us into becoming specialized too soon." In the process, she became "a legal jack of all trades" — something that would serve her well as her career evolved.
At Kirkland, Bettman says, she learned most of what she knows about project management, "beginning with how to negotiate with folks on my own side — which is almost as important as being able to negotiate with folks on the other side!" She also learned about diplomacy and about "ownership." In short, she says, "You have to take complete ownership, and you have to make sure your work product is perfect." Her Kirkland training, Bettman says, "gave me a fabulous sense of self-confidence, the idea that I could figure it out — whatever 'it' was — and to think on my feet."
Bettman had recently made partner when she received a call from a former Kirkland associate who had gone in-house. The head of HR at her company had left for a similar job at True North Communications, and the former Kirklander was convinced that Bettman would be the perfect fit for the new company. "I know this sounds weird," says Bettman, "but not three hours later a friend of mine from high school called and said, 'I have this client who is looking to fill a position, and it's you. You are the perfect person for that job.' " The job was at True North.
After a run at True North and another at the Huron Consulting Group, Bettman was recruited to be general counsel at RR Donnelly in 2004. Today, she's executive vice president, general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer.
After a decade-and-a-half in-house, Bettman believes "the most relevant thing that an outside counsel can do is to try to put yourself in the mindset of the ultimate client — the business client. Your advice has to be practical, and it has to be actionable."
What the client does not want, Bettman says — "and, I know, this goes counter to all the instincts of many Big Firm lawyers" — is unlimited options. "The client doesn't want A, B, C or D. The client wants an answer."
And, oh, yes, "Be a partner with your in-house counsel. Make them look good. Listen to what they have to say."
When she's not lawyering, Sue Bettman lives with her husband, a Vedder Price partner, and their twin nine year-olds (a boy and a girl) in the Wrigley neighborhood of Chicago. Her favorite charity: The Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, a group home for kids in crisis.
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.
| View All Alumni Profiles|