Mary Beth is a great representative of Kirkland’s environmental, social and governance practice. She has provided invaluable support to our firm’s program, and we value her responsiveness, client focus and deep industry experience.”            

- Chambers Crisis & Risk Management (ESG) 2023

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.

Mary Beth is the go-to ESG counsel for numerous asset managers, providing them with advice on their firm-wide ESG policies and programs, commitments and disclosures, fund-level ESG strategies and communications, investor negotiations, and ESG-regulatory compliance and enforcement. This includes both public and private asset managers, with a particular focus on energy, infrastructure and real-estate strategies.

Mary Beth’s ESG practice builds upon almost two decades of experience providing 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 ESG 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, “Climate Investing & Energy Transition,” Wharton Private Equity & Venture Capital Conference, March 2024

Speaker, “Briefing on SEC’s Final Climate Disclosure Rules,” Kirkland Webinar, March 12, 2024

Moderator, “Impact Investing Panel,” Columbia Business School Private Equity Conference, February 2024

Moderator, “Regulatory Shifts: Keeping Track of Changes At Home, Shifting Standards Overseas and Making Sense of a Patchwork Approach to ESG Regulation,” Private Equity Wire US ESG Summit, June 21, 2023

Moderator, “Integrating ESG,” Kayo’s Sustainable Investment Summit, June 12, 2023

Moderator, “Climate Investing and Energy Transition,” 2023 Wharton Private Equity Venture Capital Conference, March 31, 2023

Speaker, “SEC’s Climate Change Disclosure Rulemaking and the ESG Requirements for Investment Advisers,” AIC CCO Meeting, March 22, 2023

Speaker, “The New ESG Regulatory Landscape,” PEI Responsible Investment Forum, March 1, 2023

Moderator, “Investing Inclusively & Sustainably,” Columbia Business School’s 29th Annual Private Equity Conference, February 17, 2023

Speaker, “Deep Dive: Creating a Long-Term ESG-Focused Investment Portfolio,” PERE America Summit 2022, November 15, 2022

Speaker, “Sustainability in the Built Environment,” Kayo Women’s Real Estate Summit, November 7, 2022

Moderator, “ESG Strategies for Private Fund Managers: Navigating Investor Demands and Regulatory Hurdles,” Kirkland Inaugural ESG Legal & Compliance Summit for Private Funds, October 27, 2022

Speaker, “Accelerating Carbon Transition through Net-Zero Focused Strategies,” ACI’s 2nd Annual Summit on ESG, October 12, 2022

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

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

Women in Climate Investing & Finance, April 2022

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

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

Women’s Private Capital Summit, November 2021

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


Co-Author, “SEC Adopts Amendments to Expand the Scope of the ‘Names Rule,’” Kirkland Alert, October 3, 2023

Co-Author, “ISSB Releases Final Global Sustainability Disclosure Standards,” Kirkland Alert, June 29, 2023

Co-Author, “SEC Continues Enforcement Scrutiny of ESG Claims by Investment Advisers,” Kirkland AIM, December 12, 2022

Co-Author, “DOL Final Regulation Eases Path for ERISA Fiduciaries to Consider ESG Factors When Selecting Investments,” Kirkland Alert, November 30, 2022

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, 2022–2024

Ranked as “Up and Coming” in Chambers Crisis & Risk Management: Global-Wide ESG

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