Emily P. Hughes is a litigation partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Her practice focuses on counseling and defense of companies, partnerships, individuals, and non-profits in civil and criminal matters, particularly where tax or other complex financial matters are involved. Emily is a problem solver who is uniquely attuned to the needs and issues confronting closely-held enterprises, including private equity sponsors and their founders and shareholders in private companies.

Emily’s government and regulatory investigation experience includes representations before the IRS and DOJ, ranging from civil examinations to grand jury and trial proceedings. She has led multidisciplinary teams in complex and sensitive internal investigations. Emily is experienced in crisis management and has guided CEOs, senior executives, and Board of Directors through crisis preparedness, mitigation, and response in the context of both internal and governmental investigations.

Emily litigates on behalf of and defends corporations, partnerships, and individuals in matters involving tax reporting and treatment, international tax and information reporting (including Section 965 transition tax disputes), voluntary disclosures and closing agreements, securities and financial fraud, fiduciary duty claims and tax disputes arising in the bankruptcy context.

She also has litigated and counseled on a range of disputes in closely-held business contexts, including the defense of founders’ business interests in founder break-ups and marital dissolution and partner business disputes.

Emily is a fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel and previously served as vice-chair and chair of the D.C. Bar's Tax Audits and Litigation Committee.

Emily is the Co-Chair of the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) in Kirkland’s DC office and a member of the Firmwide Diversity & Inclusion Committee. She also serves as a member of the Firmwide Litigation Associate Review Committee, the DC office Operations Committee and is chair of the DC office Practice Assistant Review Committee.


Thought Leadership


Speaker, “Thinking Out of the Box: Creative Ways to Settle Difficult Civil and Criminal Tax Cases,” ABA Criminal Tax Fraud & Tax Controversy Conference (2023)

Speaker, “Audits of Exempt Orgs and Private Foundations: Tax Exempt Does Not Mean No Examinations,” NYU Tax Controversy Forum (2023)

Moderator, “Critical Leadership Skills for Managing a Remote Workforce,” Women, Influence & Power in Law Summit (2020)

Speaker, “Advising Non-Compliant Taxpayers: When is the Updated Voluntary Disclosure Practice the Best Choice?,” NYU 11th Annual Tax Controversy Forum (2019)

Speaker, “Practical Privilege Issues,” Tax Executives Institute Inc. (TEI) Audits & Appeals Seminar (2018)

Speaker, “Managing Tax-Related Whistleblowers, Leaks and Derivative Suits,” ABA Tax Section International Tax and Enforcement Controversy Conference (2017)

Speaker, “Privilege & Work-Product Protections Around the World,” Tax Executives Institute Inc. (TEI) Annual Conference (2017)


Recognized by DCA Live as an “Emerging Women Leader in Law” in 2023.

Recognized by DCA Live as one of the Emerging Women Leaders in Private Practice in 2023.

Recognized by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs with an Outstanding Achievement Award in 2020. 

Recognized by The National Law Journal as a “Washington, D.C., Trailblazer” in 2020. 

Recognized by The National Law Journal as a D.C. Rising Star in 2019.

Recognized in Washington DC Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” from 2014–2019.

Recognized in The Legal 500 U.S. for Commercial Litigation in 2015.

Guest Judge for the 2014 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

Guest Judge for American University Washington College of Law 2013 Burton D. Wechsler First Amendment Moot Court Competition.

Emily achieved 20+ pro bono hours in the following years: 2006, 2008–2014, 2017–2020.

Recognized with an Outstanding Achievement Award in the Field of Public Accommodations by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs for successful resolution of race discrimination claim in 2009.

Memberships & Affiliations

American College of Tax Counsel, Fellow

American Bar Association, Litigation, Criminal Justice and Tax Sections

  • Women in White Collar Committee

Women’s White Collar Defense Association

District of Columbia Bar, Taxation and Litigation Sections

  • Chair, Tax Audits & Litigation Committee (2020–2022)
  • Vice Chair, Tax Audits & Litigation Committee (2018–2020)

Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia

American Constitution Society

Brown Annual Fund Leadership Council, Brown University

Brown Annual Fund Leader Network, Brown University

Women’s Launch Pad, Brown University

Advancement Committee, Congressional School


Admissions & Qualifications

  • 2008District of Columbia
  • 2007California


  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of California


  • Brown UniversityA.B., Biomedical Ethicswith Honors
  • Georgetown University Law CenterJ.D.magna cum laude

    Order of the Coif

    Dean’s List every year

    Georgetown Law Journal, Special Projects Editor

  • New York UniversityLL.M., Taxation