The alumni program is a perfect medium for Kirkland & Ellis lawyers and alumni to connect and enhance professional and personal relationships. - Jeffrey C. Hammes, P.C., Chairman, Global Management Executive Committee
Watch our "Alumni Minute (and a Half) Journeys" to see some of the remarkable things our alumni are doing.
Mateja Maher / General Counsel, Campbell Lutyens
Alicia Davis / University of Michigan
Soraya Rudofsky / Walmart
Brandy Kuentzel / San Francisco SPCA
Carolina Paschoal / Kate Spade & Company
Jackie Sloan / The Children’s Ranch
Jon Shepard / First Ascent Climbing and Fitness
Kirkland alumnus Ben Levi is co-founder and COO of InCloudCounsel, the largest global provider focused on automating and enhancing high-volume legal processes. The legal technology company combines industry-leading software with a network of experienced freelance corporate lawyers to negotiate and manage routine legal work in an efficient, high-quality, and cost-effective manner.
Looking back, Ben reflects how launching his career at Kirkland in 2008 provided a strong background for his entrepreneurial success. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he interviewed at multiple Chicago firms but ultimately decided on Kirkland. He summered and spent five years in the Corporate Group where his focus was on mergers and acquisitions.
“Ultimately, I chose Kirkland because I loved the people and the culture was nice and hardworking,” said Ben. “I worked with – and learned from – a group who operated at a high caliber and expected and gave you the ability to do the same. I’ve carried that with me.”
He appreciated the fast pace, new challenges, and focus to think differently and find new solutions.
“Kirkland is good at presenting new options, not just doing things the standard way, and encouraging entrepreneurial thought to discover a new path that will work. As an associate, you are asked to do something you’ve never done before and you learn very quickly to say okay. That’s what building a business is – it’s about not being afraid to do something different and knowing you’ll be able to do it,” said Ben. “There’s no secret sauce. There’s no algorithm. It’s a group of innately talented people executing at a high level. That’s exactly what Kirkland is, and that training is invaluable.”
Ben ultimately decided to leave the Firm in 2013 to pursue his interest in legal technology. He co-founded and launched InCloudCounsel in early 2014 after identifying a unique value proposition that works for large companies seeking a scalable solution to handle their routine, time-consuming legal work, and a subset of top-tier attorneys looking for a remote, flexible work arrangement.
“We launched at a time when people were taking an Uber to work or starting to order their groceries online – why not offer traditional legal services in a nontraditional way?”
Ben and his co-founder’s instincts were right. InCloudCounsel has quickly skyrocketed in growth – they started with two attorneys and five years later, they now have a global network with hundreds of lawyers.
Now, as COO of InCloudCounsel, Ben oversees the company’s operations and growing network of offices across the world, but his favorite part of his job is the people he works with.
“Similar to Kirkland, we hire top-tier, high-energy talent, and it’s rewarding to offer a work arrangement that allows attorneys the opportunity to practice at a high level for some of the world’s leading companies, but still work around their own schedule and pursue interests like writing a book or the flexibility to be home for their kids.”
Ben still maintains strong ties with Kirkland, keeping in touch with past colleagues, even hiring some Firm alumni who have participated in Kirkland’s CareerLink program and decided to dial down or change their career path.
“We’ve had several Kirkland alumni join InCloudCounsel and I appreciate the relationship we’ve built with the Kirkland CareerLink team,” said Ben. “Their program is unlike what any other firm offers its attorneys or alumni and it’s been a great introduction to incredible talent.”
Published December 2019
Francesca Strumia / Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of International Law Firms Relations, University of Sheffield School of Law
Always passionate about education and research, alumna Dr. Francesca Strumia has brought her Kirkland experience to the University of Sheffield School of Law. As Senior Lecturer, Francesca combines her deep knowledge of international law and practical experience to educate and connect university students to valuable career experiences.
Interested in exploring the intersection of legal education and legal practice, she believes in the importance of clinical legal education and integrates the lessons she learned at Kirkland in her teaching and research.
“The legacy of being a part of an international law firm like Kirkland was rewarding and influential in my academic career,” said Francesca. “I always look for the practical and seek opportunities to engage with outside partners like other law firms, NGOs or the government.”
“I think working with Kirkland lawyers from other countries gave me the ability to speak with different types of professionals, and consider cultural sensitivities and perspectives. That experience has helped me when communicating with students, colleagues and external partners, or speaking at conferences and transitioning from one professional audience to another.”
Global Education and Experience
Currently living in London, Francesca has lived, learned, and practiced law all over the world. She grew up in Italy and attended the University of Torino where she majored in law. Fascinated by the U.S. law school experience, she applied and was accepted to Harvard Law School. After receiving an LL.M., she continued her research and pursued Harvard’s prestigious Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D).
After finishing at Harvard in 2009, she joined Kirkland’s London office an exciting opportunity to practice as a U.S. lawyer but be closer to family. She spent three and a half years at the Firm in the corporate practice where she worked on several international cases.
“Kirkland felt like a completely new universe. It was very competitive but also friendly and inclusive — especially as a junior lawyer,” said Francesca. “It was an interesting place to be and a professional melting pot of high caliber, motivated people from international backgrounds committed to doing quality work.”
Francesca left Kirkland in 2012 to return to Italy where she joined a Milan firm and also worked as a post graduate research fellow at the University of Torino. In 2014, she decided to transition full time to academia and joined the University of Sheffield School of Law in London.
She currently teaches and focuses her research on European Union Law and International and Comparative Immigration Law. As Co-Director of International Law Firms Relations, she identifies opportunities for students to network or learn about a global career.
Lessons from Kirkland
Through the years, Francesca has stayed connected with Kirkland personally and professionally.
In her job at the University, she collaborates with Kirkland’s Munich and London offices to arrange student visits and contributes to research on global law trends and the internationalization of the legal profession.
“A couple of years ago I attended a Harvard alumni event at the London office and it was so nice to reconnect,” said Francesca. “Leaving the Firm wasn’t an easy decision, but Kirkland was extremely gracious and supportive when I decided to join and ultimately leave.”
“I had some fantastic mentors at Kirkland — both junior and very senior and that’s something that’s stayed with me so I try to apply with my students.”
“A lot of students come to school with a lack of confidence, but hearing a lawyer’s personal and professional story is inspirational and formative. It’s something they can really relate to when considering their own future.”Published September 2019
Brandon Charnas / Co-Founder, CURRENT (Current Real Estate Advisors LLC)
Tell us about your current role and what you’re doing?
I left Kirkland to follow my interest in real estate. I co-founded Current Real Estate Advisors, a full service commercial real estate firm based in New York City. Over the last five years, we have brokered and advised on more than $1 billion commercial sale transactions. More recently, our company has shifted its focus to commercial leasing representing landlords and tenants. We go beyond locating and negotiating physical space by offering our clients marketing services through social media creating brand awareness campaigns to help drive their future success.
How did your training at Kirkland prepare you for your current role?
I spent five years in the corporate and real estate department focused primarily on private equity, debt finance and structuring real estate transactions. Early on, I was given the opportunity to run point on large project financing. Due diligence was key – reading and summarizing every contract in the data room taught me how to be a detective. I think that’s really helped prepare me for what I do today. Especially when trying to locate the owner of a specific asset by reviewing organizational documents.
What did you learn from summering with us?
Summering was a launching pad for how to work in a corporate environment. I learned how to engage with professionals and really navigate a large institution. I was able to build internal relationships with other lawyers at the Firm and work well with external clients to really solve a problem.
What has been the biggest surprise about your career path?
If you really want something you have to go get it yourself. As an entrepreneur, you have to have drive and persistence. I’m proud that we’ve been able to build this company and have a strong track record at this point in our company trajectory.
Has the Kirkland alumni network been valuable to you? If so, how?
I keep in touch with friends from the Firm. A lot of times on deals I’ve been working on there’s some sort of connection back to Kirkland – another alumni attorney at the table or a client connection. Being associated with Kirkland is a great bond and stamp of approval.
What do you remember most about your time at Kirkland?
The people for sure. I would also say due diligence.
What piece of advice would you offer young associates starting out their careers?
Be a sponge and learn as much as you can. When you get an assignment, take a step back to do a Google search and get a big picture understanding of what you’re talking about and the audience.
Published August 2019
Chanda Rice / Senior Counsel, Hyatt Corporation
Tell us about your current role - where are you and what do you do?
I currently serve as a Senior Counsel at Hyatt Corporation on our Operations legal team. I support our global information technology operations for the corporate office and our hotels. I am involved with any technology or software implemented in two or more Hyatt hotels. My primary responsibilities are: negotiating vendor agreements; preparing and negotiating technology related agreements between Hyatt and our franchisees for Hyatt’s proprietary systems and technology-related services; and advising on legislation affecting our technical operations, such as credit card processing and personal data collection.
How did your training at Kirkland prepare you for your current role?
My training at Kirkland was invaluable. I learned my practice under lawyers that were very knowledgeable in the areas of intellectual property and commercial services, and lawyers that were detail oriented and precise in legal drafting.
What did you learn from summering with us?
I enjoyed my summer because I was exposed to all of the training that Kirkland provides to its litigation and transactional attorneys. The free market system allowed me to figure out what practice paired well with my personality and what I enjoyed.
What has been the biggest surprise about your career path?
Really, how the relationships I formed at Kirkland have helped my career. I left Kirkland in 2013 for a smaller firm. This firm was outside counsel to Hyatt, and the primary point person at Hyatt had worked with me in the same practice group while at Kirkland.
What do you remember most about your time at Kirkland?
My favorite aspect of working at Kirkland was the ability to work remote/telecommute. I appreciated that Kirkland was the type of firm that did not care about face time…the importance was getting the work done. I was most productive while working at home. Since Kirkland, the smaller firm I joined after Kirkland and Hyatt are more face time companies. While I get my work done, I could be more efficient if enabled with the ability to work remotely on occasion.
What piece of advice would you offer young associates starting out their careers?
My advice would be to find a practice that you enjoy. And by enjoy, I mean the work and the people with whom you work. That makes coming to work every day enjoyable, and when you have to answer those emails and deal with issues on off hours and on weekends, there’s no stress involved because you truly enjoy what you do and believe that you are an asset to your clients and enjoy helping them resolve their issues and meet their goals and objectives.
Published August 2019
Alexis Tucker / Counsel, Original Series, Netflix
As Counsel, Original Series at Netflix, Kirkland alumna Alexis Tucker works behind the scenes on a team that produces some of the streaming network’s most award-winning and binge-worthy shows. She works with Netflix’s business affairs executives to negotiate and draft underlying rights agreements and contracts for actors, showrunners, writers, producers and directors.
“It takes a lot of talented people to create every second of content,” said Alexis. “I love working behind the scenes — advising our creators and crew members, collaborating with cross-functional colleagues on the production, marketing and engineering teams, and learning about the various cities where we produce our shows.”
Early Interest in Entertainment
Passionate about the arts, Alexis has always appreciated the power of media to convey a message and connect audiences. After graduating from Princeton in 2008 with a degree in French Language and a minor in African Studies, she deferred acceptance to law school when she was awarded the prestigious Fulbright-mtvU grant. Alexis spent one year researching the influence of hip hop culture on French politics and vlogging for mtvU.
“In many ways, Paris was the center of the hip hop community in Europe, with musicians, dancers and visual artists capturing the hearts and minds of young people from all backgrounds.” said Alexis. “As I spoke with artists about their work, I realized that many of these creative people weren’t fully protected by agreements for their rights or services. Many had never negotiated a contract. This experience reinforced my interest in the law to support the rights and intellectual property of artists.
In 2009, Alexis moved back to the U.S. to attend New York University School of Law and co-led the school’s Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law Society which connects students with practicing lawyers through panels, receptions and other networking events.
Kicking Off Her Career at Kirkland
After graduating from NYU Law, Alexis joined Kirkland in 2012.
“I wanted to join a big firm to learn more about corporate law, be a transactional lawyer and get experience working on deals,” said Alexis. “The people I met during the interview process really reaffirmed that Kirkland was the right place to be.”
While at the Firm, Alexis enjoyed the fast pace, independence and opportunity to work on important projects with experienced attorneys.
“I had a lot of mentors that helped me become a good lawyer,” said Alexis. “Besides reviewing agreements, they took me aside and taught me how to execute a deal and develop the soft skills to be more effective, including negotiating techniques and time management tips.”
Following her passion to practice entertainment law, Alexis left Kirkland in 2013 for a unique opportunity to join a boutique firm, where she advised clients on a range of film, television and new media productions. After four years at the firm, Netflix offered her an opportunity to join the company.
Alexis loves the creative culture of Netflix and being part of a team that negotiates production deals for popular shows like GLOW and Stranger Things. “Working on a Netflix’s series from idea to streaming on your device of choice is always a thrill.”
Mentoring and Making Connections
Going in-house and joining Netflix has been a dream come true for Alexis, which is why she makes time to network and help others pursue their career ambitions.
“Mentorship is very important to me,” says Alexis. “I know I am where I am because of so many different people who have helped me — making introductions and encouraging me to follow my passion. Sometimes people think you need to be in your career for a long time to mentor but there’s a lot of power in peer-to-peer mentoring.”
One of those valuable peer networks for Alexis has been attending the Kirkland New York office’s Black Attorney Affinity Group’s events where she has made and facilitated career connections with Kirkland alumni.
“It’s always great to reunite at an event – everyone is doing very interesting things either at Kirkland or wherever they are now,” said Alexis.Published May 2019
Karen Huoth / Senior Counsel, Litigation and Intellectual Property, Hulu
Alumna Karen Huoth has brought her deep Kirkland IP litigation background to Hulu, a streaming service offering live TV and on-demand shows and movies as well as Hulu original series such as Handmaid’s Tale and Catch-22.
As Senior Counsel, Litigation and Intellectual Property, she oversees a team that is responsible for managing all of the company’s litigations as well as maintaining Hulu’s patent portfolio and copyrights. She joined Hulu in 2013 and has seen the company and legal team grow as Hulu’s innovations and profile elevate.
“I love our product — it’s an easy thing to advocate for,” said Karen. “We are doing a lot of interesting work on the technology and content side and I get to support that and make sure Hulu’s best interests are represented.”
Path to Patent Litigation
Karen’s undergraduate degrees in computer science and philosophy from the University of Washington complemented her eventual career journey in patent litigation for technology companies. After graduating from Columbia Law School, Karen started her career practicing litigation in big law.
In 2009, she decided to join Kirkland because of the Firm’s breadth of experience and reputation in patent litigation. Karen hit the ground running and practiced in both the New York and Palo Alto offices — becoming partner in 2011.
“I found that if you worked hard, did a good job, and worked well with others, there were a lot of opportunities for interesting cases and senior level work,” said Karen. “There is a Kirkland method of litigation that has helped me as in-house counsel.”
Keeping a Kirkland Connection
Karen left the Firm in 2013 to go in-house at Hulu.
“Kirkland gets the big cases and is constantly breaking new ground. I enjoyed the challenge, but I wanted to go in-house at a company where I was closer to the product and was able to understand a company’s risk profile,” said Karen. “I like to be in a proactive position and understand risk analysis and early decisions before we go in and negotiate to avoid litigation if possible.”
“Kirkland is very thorough and explores creative options, which is something we do at Hulu as well,” said Karen. “Think outside of the box and come up with interesting strategies to be more efficient but still get great results — it’s a great Kirkland foundation that I use with my team.”
Karen stays connected to past Kirkland colleagues and Hulu is now a Kirkland client. She’s currently working on a case with Dale Cendali, Josh Simmons and Diana Torres.
“We just hired Kirkland for a case,” said Karen. “I know their style. We have a Kirkland short hand. I don’t need to tell them what to do – I know they will handle it and they will get it done right.”Published May 2019
Jerry Masoudi / Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, JUUL Labs
Kirkland alumnus Jerry Masoudi leads the legal team at JUUL Labs, the fast-growing U.S. based e-cigarette company. As chief legal officer and corporate secretary, Jerry and his team help the pioneering company navigate legal and regulatory issues to achieve its mission to improve the lives of existing adult smokers by providing an alternative to combustible cigarettes.
Jerry joined JUUL Labs in the summer of 2018 and has built a talented team to match the company’s growth and demand.
“It’s been exciting to join a start up and be part of a mission I believe in – using technology and innovation to eliminate combustible cigarettes,” said Jerry. “The company has a great opportunity to change the world.”
Looking back, his interest in science, nearly a decade in litigation at Kirkland, and roles in government and with biopharmaceutical companies provide deep experience for his current role.
Kirkland Training Ground
Before graduating from the University of Chicago School of Law, Jerry got his first taste of Firm life as a summer associate in Kirkland’s former Denver office. Immediately following graduation in 1993, he clerked for Judge Frank H. Easterbrook of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He rejoined Kirkland in 1994 and worked as a litigation associate in the Washington D.C. office. His strong leadership and track record paved the way to partnership in 1999.
Jerry is proud to be part of the Kirkland alumni network and reflects fondly on his time at the Firm and opportunity to be part of – and learn from – teams representing landmark cases in appellate matters, arbitration, patent cases, antitrust and more.
“Kirkland gets great results for great clients,” said Jerry. “I had a lot of fun working on a broad range of interesting trial and appellate matters.”
“As an associate, I remember thinking the partners I worked alongside were very accomplished,” reflects Jerry. “It’s impressive to think of the people who were practicing at Kirkland during that time period and where they’ve landed – the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, the White House, and in leadership at the Firm.”
Getting the Government Perspective
After a decade of practicing litigation, Jerry decided to follow his interest in public service. He left Kirkland in 2004 and spent four years in government at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Justice.
At the FDA, he served as Chief Counsel, where he supervised agency litigation and advised the FDA’s senior leadership on regulatory and enforcement matters. While the government culture and pace were different, his Kirkland background representing corporations provided valuable perspective on how an industry makes decisions.
“When you are in the government, it’s important to see how industry works,” said Jerry. “Working from the inside, you see the reality of what a company faces to get things done and have a better perspective on innovation and how companies make things happen.”
Between stints at the FDA, Jerry joined the U.S. Department of Justice and served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for international, policy and appellate matters in the Antitrust Division.
A Pharmaceutical Focus
In 2009, Jerry left government and joined Covington & Burling LLP as partner and co-chair of the firm’s food and drug practice where he advised FDA-regulated companies on a wide range of regulatory and litigation matters.
Following his deep interest in healthcare, he left Covington to go in-house at Celgene Corporation, a leading biopharmaceutical company. As general counsel and corporate secretary, he enjoyed combining his vast legal experience to help bring products to market.
“It was fantastic to switch to in-house,” said Jerry. “In prior roles, I saw pieces of product development but never from start to finish. Working in-house, I was able to see the clinical development, research, manufacturing, and marketing. Seeing how a company takes a product from an idea to a reality that changes people’s lives is really fascinating.”
In 2018 he was recruited to join the fast-growing JUUL Labs. As Chief Legal Officer, he oversees legal matters relating to litigation, FDA regulation, employment, M&A, intellectual property, and compliance. He works closely with the board of directors as Corporate Secretary. He also oversees JUUL Labs’ brand protection and anti-counterfeiting efforts.
He likes being part of the JUUL Labs’ fast-moving culture combining his interest in healthcare, economics and science.
“No two days are the same, and there are always new and interesting problems to solve,” said Jerry. “I’ve made a bunch of changes in my career and every step has been an opportunity to learn more.”
Kirkland is proud of Jerry and we look forward to following his career journey and continued success.Published April 2019
Anjelica Bader / Counsel, ESPN
Kirkland alumna, avid sports fan and former college track athlete Anjelica Bader has found her calling as counsel at ESPN. Every day, she combines her passion for law and sports to help the popular company deliver creative and cutting-edge programs to sports fans everywhere. Building off an early interest in becoming a lawyer, Anjelica has followed her curiosity and career dreams to practice in several different areas of law.
From playing a lawyer to being one
Anjelica laughs when asked when she first knew she wanted to become a lawyer.
“I played a prosecutor in my second-grade play. I prosecuted Hansel and Gretel for attempted murder and burglary,” jokes Anjelica. “I loved wearing a suit and shouting objection, so after that, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer.”
She followed that interest after graduating from Cornell University and worked as a corporate paralegal at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Anjelica’s time at WLRK solidified her interest in pursuing law. After two years, and many long days and nights, at that firm, she moved to Chicago and attended the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.
Upon graduating from Northwestern in 2013 with honors, Anjelica moved back East to join the New York County District Attorney’s Office where she spent three years prosecuting misdemeanors and felonies.
“During my time at the office I handled a variety of cases, ranging from a turnstile jump to an attempted murder,” said Anjelica. “Being an ADA was both the most rewarding and the most emotionally draining experience I’ve ever had. I learned a lot.”
Career at Kirkland
Looking for a change and opportunity to expand her litigation, writing and research skills, Anjelica joined Kirkland in 2016.
She spent two years in the Firm’s litigation practice and enjoyed the opportunity to meet and work with great people – many of whom remain her friends. She also took on some pro bono work while at the Firm.
“Under the supervision of a partner, a first-year associate, a second-year associate and I took an excessive force case to trial in federal court on two weeks’ notice,” said Anjelica. “The partner really let us take the lead. It was a great opportunity.”
“One of the benefits of working at Kirkland is that you’re extremely marketable and you have an opportunity to go after what you’re passionate about.”
For Anjelica, that passion was sports and entertainment, which led to her current role at ESPN. To prepare for her interviews, Anjelica utilized Kirkland’s CareerLink Career Coach, Amanda Reiss.
“Amanda was an invaluable part of my interview process. Prepping with Amanda allowed me to feel confident walking into every interview. She worked with me on a confidential basis, always made time for me and provided me with extremely insightful feedback.”
Joining the ESPN Team
At ESPN, Anjelica works behind the scenes to help the company ensure sports fans have access to premium content anywhere, anytime. She works predominately in affiliate distribution to negotiate ESPN’s agreements with cable providers and does some production and programming work as well, helping ESPN create the shows that give sports fans an inside look at their favorite teams and athletes.
“I grew up in a sports family and always liked playing and watching sports. ESPN allows a passion of mine be a central part of my job,” said Anjelica.
Anjelica enjoys the fast pace and evolving media landscape ESPN plays in.
“I think my work keeps me young and engaged. I had to catch up on eSports and also get familiar with other online distribution platforms that are thriving,” said Anjelica. “Another thing I really value about working at ESPN, which is a subsidiary of Disney, is that often when I am in a negotiation, I’ve noticed and appreciated the gender, cultural and racial diversity among the staff that makes up our side of the table. The company’s commitment to that diversity is really admirable.”
Looking back, she’s grateful for the many different experiences she’s had that led her to her role at ESPN.
“I’ve been very, very fortunate,” said Anjelica. “My parents are immigrants from Jamaica and they worked very hard to make sure I have the best opportunities. So, I want to make the most of every opportunity I get.”
Kirkland is proud of Anjelica and we look forward to following her career journey and continued success.Published March 2019
Larry Cannon / Chief Administrative Officer and Corporate Secretary, American Heart Association
Kirkland alumnus Larry Cannon, brings a breadth of experience and leadership to the American Heart Association, the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. As Chief Administrative Officer and Corporate Secretary, he leads key corporate operations functions, supports mission-aligned businesses and emerging growth strategies, and oversees corporate governance matters.
From getting his start in public accounting to a successful career in corporate law at Kirkland and then moving in-house, Larry has had an interesting career journey that’s paved the way to his current role at the American Heart Association.From Big Four to Big Law
Larry graduated with an accounting degree from Baylor University and spent a decade at the Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young. While he enjoyed the client service work, he always had an interest in law school and was pleased to learn that DePaul offered an evening program. Juggling his busy tax accountant role by day, he spent four years tackling law school at night. He got his first taste of law firm life at Kirkland as a summer associate in 1997.
“I knew I wanted to apply law school training in my career but was unsure about practicing,” said Larry. “But after summering at Kirkland, I knew a full transition to law was meant to be.”
Larry officially joined Kirkland in 1999 and brought his seasoned business knowledge to the corporate practice where he worked on corporate securities and M&A transactions.
“I wouldn’t trade my Kirkland experience for anything,” said Larry. “It was the very best training ground and I’m thankful for the intelligent, committed and highly motivated people I worked with – and learned from – every day.”
Larry left Kirkland in 2003 as he wanted to go back to Texas and the Firm didn’t have an office in the state at that time. He continued practicing corporate law at the firm Jones Day and then switched to go in house and became Chief Securities Counsel at FTS International, one of the largest oil field services companies in North America focused on well completions.
At FTS, he was elevated to the role of Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, which included overseeing legal, regulatory compliance, risk management, human resources, procurement, internal audit, and health, safety & environmental.
“I really enjoyed the transition to CAO and the opportunity to strategically lead multiple functions to achieve the company’s goals.”
Navigating to Nonprofit
Happy in the oil and gas industry, the switch to a nonprofit career was unexpected until Larry got a call from an American Heart Association recruiter interested in his CAO, accounting, legal and international experience. After learning more about the role he was drawn to the American Heart Association’s mission and powerful collaborations to make an impact – a cause Larry is especially vested in given a family history of heart disease.
He joined the organization in 2017 as Chief Administrative Officer and Corporate Secretary and oversees key functions including legal, HR, accounting, finance, treasury, risk management, information technology, procurement, and internal audit among others.
“I was both impressed and surprised by the breadth, complexity and fast-paced nature of the American Heart Association,” said Larry. “We’ve funded more than $4 billion in heart disease and stroke research and have the support of an incredible network of physicians, scientists and passionate volunteers.”
“We have a strong brand — so many people have a personal connection to the American Heart Association,” said Larry. “It’s our job to protect our organization so we can accelerate science, support the millions who need us and be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.”
Kirkland is proud of Larry and his leadership at the American Heart Association.
Published February 2019
Matt Ritter / Comedian, Writer, and Senior Director of Legal Recruiting, Lateral Link
From practicing M&A law in Kirkland’s New York office to pursuing comedy in Los Angeles, Kirkland alumnus Matt Ritter has had quite the creative career journey since leaving Kirkland. He currently works as Senior Director of Legal Recruiting at Lateral Link, hosts a top rated legal themed comedy podcast “Legally Insane” and recently hosted a business podcast “Safe for Work”. He also tours the country as a stand-up comedian and has had great success writing and producing television shows. While he no longer practices law, he’s found a way to weave his legal background across his career.
Early Interest in Law, Comedy and Writing
Growing up in a family of lawyers, Matt says he always had an inkling for practicing law but also an interest in comedy, writing and performing.
“Maybe it was middle child syndrome but I was always the kid doing skits, the class clown,” he jokes. “Comedy and writing was always in the back of my mind, I just never thought I could make a career out of making people laugh.”
Following a management degree from Binghamton University, Matt attended law school at University of Pennsylvania and started his career at Mayer Brown. He eventually followed some of his teammates and joined Kirkland’s New York office where he worked in the Private Equity practice.
Outside of work he continued his love of comedy at open mic nights across New York City.
“At Kirkland, I worked for about two years on all different aspects of M&A and finance for different industries,” said Matt. “I worked with great people and learned a lot, but really missed focusing on my creative side and needed to make a change.”
Launching an Entertainment Career
After leaving Kirkland, Matt moved to Los Angeles to pursue writing and standup – ultimately taking some of his legal background to the stage.
“Starting out, I quickly realized that being a lawyer was an advantage – no one else was doing anything like that when it came to comedy material for the lawyer audience,” said Matt. “So, I leaned in and started the world’s first and only legal comedy group ‘Comedians at Law’ with a few other lawyers. We’ve performed at law schools, firms, bar associations, and comedy clubs across the country. It’s been a lot of fun making people laugh – especially people who have shared a lot of similar experiences.”
Since moving to LA, Matt has found early success in television writing and production. He created and sold his own show for MSNBC called “Chained to My Ex” and produced shows including the Discovery Channel’s “Fat and Furious” and the award-winning “Duck Dynasty.”
He’s currently working on a few other writing projects, including optioning the rights to a best-selling book about big law, continues to travel the country doing comedy at all types of venues, including hosting a recent improv workshop for new associates at a firm, and runs a monthly show at the legendary club, The Hollywood Improv.
Recruiting Top Talent
In 2015, Matt was approached to join Lateral Link as senior director of legal recruiting – a career he’d never considered but really enjoys partnering with both firms and candidates.
“I like helping people find the right opportunity and I think my experience at large firms like Kirkland helps provide perspective,” said Matt. “I’ve been in their shoes and want to help them make the right choice.”
“As a recruiter, I was surprised and excited to learn that Kirkland is offering programs to help employees transition or explore a future career better aligned to their interest,” said Matt. “You don’t usually see that kind of long-term investment from a company but it makes sense for the firm and the employee.”
Offering Workplace Advice
In one of his recent ventures, Matt leaned into his background in comedy and recruitment as co-host of the business podcast “Safe at Work.” The top-rated Wondery podcast humorously tackles tough topics and offers advice to help listeners make the most of their work life.
“The podcast creators approached me about working on the show – I’m basically positioned as the funny guy your friends ask for advice while my co-host is the veteran with 30 years of experience,” Matt jokes. “It’s been a lot of fun sharing what I’ve experienced in my career and learning from our guests.”
“I feel really lucky and grateful for all the experiences I’ve had that have come together to build to what I’m doing now,” says Matt. “It’s been a pretty crazy path and nothing I could have ever planned for or predicted but I really enjoy it. I recently decided to move on and shift my focus to my law podcast ‘Legally Insane’ because frankly, there’s no one tackling everything going on in law from a fun perspective and I felt that I was filling a much-needed hole in the podcast market.
Keeping the Kirkland Connection
While a lot has changed in Matt’s career journey since leaving Kirkland, he still stays connected to many former colleagues and appreciates the lessons they’ve instilled in him along the way.
“Kirkland is shorthand for excellence,” said Matt. “I think I took for granted how excellent everyone was in their craft – there were so many great training programs and I was working with the best people out there.”
“Holding yourself to that same high level of quality Kirkland encourages stays with me in whatever I pursue.”
Kirkland is proud of Matt and looks forward to following his career journey and continued success.