Kirkland's Private Funds Group has been described as "second to none" by Chambers & Partners, a leading publisher of research on the legal profession, which recently ranked Kirkland as a Tier 1 law firm for Investment Funds in the U.S., UK, Asia-Pacific and globally – making Kirkland the only law firm in the world to be considered in the top tier for each of these core jurisdictions. Additionally, Kirkland has 11 private funds attorneys ranked by Chambers in these areas – more than any other firm worldwide. With nearly 100 attorneys focused on private funds across nine offices in six time zones, the Firm is uniquely positioned to serve its clients in connection with the organization and operation of private equity, real estate and hedge funds, as well as their respective management companies. The Firm has represented more than 300 unique private fund sponsors in raising nearly $410 billion in new capital for more than 600 funds since 1995, and regularly represents leading institutional investors in connection with their investments in private funds.
The Private Funds Group is a key component of the Firm's leading Private Equity and Real Estate practices. Kirkland has received numerous accolades recognizing its preeminence in the private equity industry and was chosen by U.S. News & World Report as their 2011 "Law Firm of the Year" for Private Equity and by Buyouts magazine as their 2010 "Law Firm of the Year." The Firm's private equity reputation extends to real estate as well, where the Firm is has been ranked among the "best of the best" by The Legal 500 in 2011.
The Private Funds Group includes Kirkland's Investment Management practice, which counsels clients in all of the regulatory issues applicable to public and private investment funds and their management companies. Our Investment Management attorneys also advise broker dealers, commodity firms and other financial service entities, and are active in mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures involving investment fund managers and others in the financial services industry.
The Private Funds Group functions as an integrated, multidisciplinary team. Corporate and real estate attorneys work closely with lawyers concentrating in tax, ERISA, derivatives and securities law, among others, to structure funds and their management companies to maximize tax efficiency and operating flexibility within the evolving framework of applicable regulations and fund participant needs. Kirkland's Private Funds Group is also a globally integrated team of attorneys. Our funds team works in every major jurisdiction across the United States, and in Europe and Asia, bringing together expertise from across the globe and cross-staffing each matter to benefit our clients. This international capability is truly unique to Kirkland.
Fund Sponsor Representation
Kirkland has helped more private equity sponsors form their funds than any other law firm. Our Private Funds Group lawyers represent a diverse group of sponsors — from small boutiques to some of the largest and best-known private equity and financial firms — in the formation of a wide variety of private funds, including buyout, venture, mezzanine, distressed debt, hedge, real estate, secondary, hybrid and funds of funds. Kirkland's extensive private funds experience enables its Private Funds Group lawyers to anticipate the economic and regulatory issues important to a broad spectrum of global investors, including public and private pension funds, foundations, insurance companies, commercial and investment banks, university endowments, funds of funds and wealthy individuals.
Kirkland has more than two decades of experience in representing the management companies of private equity and real estate sponsors in connection with their investments, firm management, investor relations and regulatory and tax compliance issues. Private Funds Group lawyers, who typically represent their clients on an ongoing basis, are sensitive to the day-to-day opportunities and challenges faced by private fund sponsors. They are able to use their extensive experience effectively to structure fund management companies to address a client's long-term goals and to anticipate a variety of tax, cash flow, estate planning, succession, control, employee separation and other issues. Kirkland also represents private equity groups within large financial institutions in all aspects of their business. The Firm has counseled numerous clients in the spinout of private fund groups from large financial institutions or established independent firms, giving Kirkland attorneys unparalleled experience in these complex transactions.
Limited Partner Representation
The Private Funds Group regularly represents leading institutional investors in connection with their investments in private funds. These investors include some of the largest U.S. and non-U.S. public and private pension plans, university endowments, funds of funds, charitable organizations, financial institutions and family offices. Kirkland attorneys help each investor design a tailored fund review process to identify and resolve efficiently the economic, regulatory, tax and other issues of specific concern to that investor.
Secondary Partner Representation
Kirkland has a substantial presence in the growing secondary market, representing secondary fund sponsors in connection with raising their funds and in their acquisitions of interests in private funds and private fund portfolio companies from existing investors. The Firm also has represented clients seeking to sell large portfolios of such interests, as well as sponsors in connection with evaluating such transactions.
Investment Management Representation
The Firm's Investment Management attorneys represent private fund sponsors in forming and operating private hedge funds, hybrid funds, employees securities companies (ESCs) and business development companies (BDCs), as well as registered mutual funds and other investment companies, among them some of the world's most preeminent investment firms. As part of the Firm's fund sponsor representation, Kirkland regularly advises clients on operating within the numerous regulatory regimes that apply to both registered and unregistered financial services firms — offering creative and practical solutions, including novel design and structuring. Kirkland also routinely interacts with regulatory authorities, such as the SEC, with respect to examinations, requests for regulatory relief and other issues. Additionally, the Firm has an active merger, acquisition and joint venture practice in the financial services industry and regularly represents fund sponsors in direct sponsor investments and portfolio company investments for investment advisers, fund sponsors, broker dealers, commodity firms and other financial services entities.
Real Estate Fund Representation
A significant portion of the Firm's Real Estate practice is devoted to the representation of private equity funds, major pension organizations, REITs and other institutional investors in their private market investment transactions involving real estate and/or related securities. A majority of Kirkland's real estate partners also have substantial experience in forming real estate funds on behalf of leading fund sponsors and investors. Kirkland lawyers are experienced in the real estate, environmental, corporate and securities, tax, ERISA and public pension law issues presented by such transactions. The Firm has experience across a broad spectrum of pooled vehicles and direct investments in the United States and abroad, including direct real estate investments and acquisitions of debt and equity securities in corporations, partnerships and other operating entities, and frequently provide advice regarding applicable ERISA and public pension law issues including fiduciary standards, plan assets and prohibited transactions as well as counsel on issues relating to unrelated business taxable income and other pertinent tax issues.
Trusts & Estates
Kirkland is a leading adviser on estate planning strategies and techniques for private equity/venture capital principals. The Firm's Trusts & Estates lawyers have extensive experience in the risks and issues raised by the nature of private fund carried and capital interests, and employ innovative, sophisticated approaches to capitalize on the opportunities that these specialized assets present.
The Firm's Employee Benefits lawyers serve as legal counsel for a diverse group of publicly and privately held corporations, benefit plans, partnerships, limited liability companies and not-for-profit clients of all sizes. A significant part of the Employee Benefits practice involves advising private equity and other investment funds and investment managers regarding the parameters for accepting and investing pension plan money, and advising pension plans in connection with private fund investments. This includes advice regarding avoiding prohibited transactions, the availability of class exemptions and compliance with the "venture capital operating company" exception or other exceptions from the U.S. Department of Labor's plan asset regulations. Kirkland's Employee Benefits lawyers also advise plan sponsors in connection with fiduciary duties with respect to such investments.
Leaders in the Private Equity Industry
Kirkland has been a leading advisor to private equity participants since the industry's inception and has maintained its central role ever since. For example, Jack S. Levin, together with other Kirkland lawyers, has written two widely used treatises in the private equity area — Structuring Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Entrepreneurial Transactions (Panel/Aspen Publishers) and Mergers, Acquisitions, and Buyouts (co-authored with the late Martin Ginsburg, Panel/Aspen Publishers). The Firm regularly publishes a private equity newsletter, PEN, and conducts seminars for its private equity clients. A number of Kirkland lawyers are highly sought-after speakers at national and international seminars on private equity-related topics, and the Firm's breadth of experience has enabled us to participate effectively in several legislative and rulemaking initiatives on matters of concern to the private equity industry.