Mary Beth Houlihan is an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and impact partner in the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Her practice focuses on advising clients with respect to complex and dynamic ESG issues, including legal and regulatory compliance considerations, investor demands, and voluntary reporting frameworks, in the context of fund formations, public disclosure, and due diligence. Mary Beth’s ESG practice builds upon more than a decade of experience providing environmental, health, and safety counseling to financial institutions, investment funds, and private and public company clients in hundreds of complex corporate, real estate, and financial transactions, including helping clients to evaluate and address physical and transition risks from climate change, product and supply chain risks, legacy environmental issues, and the potential business implications of pending and proposed changes to environmental, health, and safety regulations.

Mary Beth is also a thought leader on ESG topics and has written on related subjects for such publications as Wall Street Lawyer, Law360, the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, the ABA Environmental Disclosure Committee Newsletter, and Bloomberg BNA Mergers & Acquisitions Law Report.

Select Representative Clients

AE Industrial Partners, AEA Investors, ArcLight Capital Partners, Bain Capital Partners, Blackstone, Blue Owl Capital Inc., Cerberus Capital Management, Francisco Partners, GTCR LLC, KKR, L Catterton, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), Oaktree Capital Management, Orix Corporation, Quantum Energy Partners, Starwood Capital Partners, Summit Partners, TA Associates, The Carlyle Group, The Rise Fund (TPG Global), TPG and Warburg Pincus.


Thought Leadership


Moderator, “Conversations Between Private Equity Funds,” Kayo Women’s Private Equity and ESG Investment Summits, June 13–15th, 2022

Presenter, “Understanding the Pendulum: Regulation for ESG Compliance Considerations,” PEI's Responsible Investment Forum: New York 2022, March 2, 2022

Women in Climate Investing & Finance, April 2022

Women’s Private Capital Summit, November 2021

Moderator, "Keeping Pace with a Fast-changing ESG Landscape," PEWIN, May 19, 2022 

Moderator, “Panel on ESG,” Columbia Business School’s 28th Annual Private Equity Virtual Conference, February 4, 2022

Presenter, Kirkland & Ellis CCO Summit, September 29, October 6, and October 13, 2021


Quoted in “Uncertainty, Inevitability Abound as SEC Crawls Toward Finalization of ESG Rules,” The National Law Journal, August 15, 2022

Quoted in “A bid to level the playing field for LPs could be a setback for ESG,” New Private Markets, August 11, 2022

Co-Author, “Enhanced Disclosure Requirements and Potential Multi Jurisdictional Considerations Raised by the SEC’s Proposed ESG Rule,“ Private Equity Law Report, August 2, 2022

Co-Author, “SEC Proposes Pair of Long-Awaited ESG Rules; Non-ESG Funds Swept Up as Well,” Kirkland Alert, June 3, 2022

Co-Author, “SEC Proposes Enhanced Disclosure by Certain Advisers on ESG Investment Practices,” Kirkland AIM, June 3, 2022

Co-Author, “SEC Proposes New Climate Disclosure Requirements,” Kirkland Alert, March 24, 2022

Co-Author, “ILPA ESG Resources: Iterative Roadmap Can Help LPs in Early Integration Stages,” Part Two of Two, Private Equity Law Report, October 19, 2021

Co-Author, “ILPA ESG Resources: Assessment Framework Utility Depends on Stage of LPs’ and GPs’ ESG Programs,” Part One of Two, Private Equity Law Report, October 12, 2021

Co-Author, “Flurry Of SEC Activity Shows Interest In ESG Terminology,” Law360, May 13, 2020

Co-Author, “Will the New SEC Guidance on Performance Metrics Impact Disclosure of ESG Metrics?” Wall Street Lawyer, March 2020 Issue

Co-Author, “To Lead or Not to Lead: Contrasting Recent Statements by SEC and ESMA Chairs on ESG Disclosure,” Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, March 16, 2020

Co-Author, “Potential Impact of New SEC Guidance on Performance Metrics on Disclosure of ESG Metrics,” Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, March 6, 2020

Co-Author, “Environmental, Social, and Governance Investing: What’s in a Name?” ABA Environmental Disclosure Committee Newsletter, May 2016

Co-Author, “The Heightened Importance of Worker Safety Issues in Corporate Transactions,” Bloomberg BNA Mergers & Acquisitions Law Report, January 11, 2016


Ranked as “Up and Coming” in Chambers USA: Environment: Mainly Transactional - New York, 2022

Memberships & Affiliations

Environmental Disclosure Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy and Resources

  • Chair (2017–2019)
  • Vice-Chair of Programming (2016–2017)
  • Vice Chair of Year in Review (2015–2016)

Member, Environmental Law Institute


Admissions & Qualifications

  • New York


  • Columbia UniversityJ.D.2009
    Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
  • Claremont McKenna CollegeB.A.2004