Kaela Colwell is an associate in the Firm’s ESG & Impact Group. Kaela’s practice focuses on counseling on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters, including relevant market, legal and compliance, due diligence, measurement, and reporting considerations. She works closely with clients to develop tailored structural and operational best practices for maximizing impact and avoiding “greenwashing.” Kaela has represented social enterprises and impact investors focused on generating solutions to climate change, renewable energy, resource sustainability, education equality, and diversity and inclusion, among other matters, and has a breadth of experience advising on alternative corporate forms, such as the public benefit limited liability company and for-profit/nonprofit hybrid structures.

Kaela earned her B.S. in Environmental Economics and Policy and a minor in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012, where she co-chaired the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability. She earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2016, where she was a member of the Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic and served as an executive editor of the Georgetown Environmental Law Review. Kaela is a recipient of the Departmental Citation for Outstanding Undergraduate Accomplishment and the CALI Award for Excellent Achievement in the Study of Governance of Nonprofit Organizations.

Prior to joining Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Kaela was an associate at another international law firm where she focused on the formation and operation of social impact funds, including private equity, venture capital, and debt funds dedicated to investments in the sustainable food and agriculture, renewable energy, clean technology, education, and healthcare sectors, among others. She also represented university endowments, development finance institutions, family offices, and other for-profit and nonprofit clients in connection with their investments in private funds and counseled social enterprises on a diverse range of transactional matters, including formation and governance issues, restructurings, and joint ventures.

Kaela is a founding member of the Berkeley Student Food Collective.


Thought Leadership

Speaking Engagements

Ask Me Anything About ESG,” The Fourth Floor, January 6, 2022

Memberships & Affiliations

Bar Association of San Francisco

American Bar Association


Admissions & Qualifications

  • 2016California
  • 2017District of Columbia


  • Georgetown University Law CenterJ.D.2016

    CALI Award for Excellent Achievement in the Study of Governance of Non-Profit Organizations 

    Executive Editor, Georgetown Environmental Law Review

    Note: “Allies and Adversaries: A Look into the Relationship between Herbal Medicines and the Environment”

  • University of California, BerkeleyB.S., Environmental Economics and Policy; Public Policy Minor2012

    Highest Distinction in General Scholarship

    Departmental Citation for Outstanding Undergraduate Accomplishment

    Dean’s List, 2008–2012

    Gordon Rausser Scholarship for Top Academic Performance 

    Honors Thesis: “Is it Still Green? The Impacts of Corporate Takeovers on Business Sustainability”