Real Work, Early On

Donna’s Career Story

Donna H. Ni

Associate Bay Area – San Francisco
Donna Ni
I’ve made some of my best friends at the Firm. I am grateful to have made those connections here, and these people will be part of my life for a long time.


Kirkland's culture rewards people who take initiative and go above and beyond in their work. From their first year, associates are encouraged to take the lead on deals, and partners are open to independent thought and associates who propose next steps.

What keeps me at Kirkland is my relationships with the associates and the partners who I consider mentors. I know that they care about my professional growth and they'll give me work that I'm interested in and support the direction I want my career to move in.

I've made some of my best friends at the Firm. I am grateful to have made those connections here, and these people will be part of my life for a long time.


I began my legal career at Kirkland as a summer associate and started right after graduating from law school. I've learned how to communicate efficiently and quickly and how to manage projects across times zones, including across continents. I've improved my problem-solving skills and my ability to work with my team to resolve issues and to communicate professionally while providing accurate advice at the fast pace that the industry demands.


In the open assignment system, I've been able to choose the assignments I take on and focus on work that I am particularly interested in. The system has helped me build mentorship relationships with partners I have chosen to work with. More broadly, the system helps attorneys direct their careers and choose what they want to specialize in.


I've participated in diversity recruiting by connecting with students at the Women of Stanford Law and the Women of Color Collective. I shared information about Kirkland's diversity fellowship and offered them Firm resources to help organize events. Diversity initiatives are important to me personally. It's crucial for firms like Kirkland to take the lead and drive the direction of the industry.


Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is a growing area of interest for our clients and for regulators. Kirkland is positioned to be a leader and an innovator in the field. This group stays ahead of trends and is a thought leader on ESG and impact-related work.

I helped design an ESG diligence program for one of our major private equity clients. We worked closely with them to design a comprehensive program focused on specific factors they care about in their industry. It was a unique and creative project that gave me a lot of client interaction and face time in my first year.

I am proud of Kirkland for the breadth of work that the Firm does and its stable growth over time. This work has exposed me to entirely new aspects of law and client interaction. I'm happy that the Firm has shown flexibility and innovation in recognizing the importance of ESG work and investing resources in it.