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, individuals, and non-profits in civil and criminal matters, particularly where complex financial or tax 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 audits to grand jury 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 and individuals in matters involving offshore banking issues, tax reporting and treatment, voluntary disclosures, Section 965 transition tax disputes, 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 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 and is chair of the DC office’s Practice Assistant Review Committee.


Thought Leadership


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 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

District of Columbia Bar, Chair of the Tax Audits and Litigation Committee, Taxation Section

American Bar Association, Member, Litigation, Criminal Justice, and Tax Sections

District of Columbia Bar, Member, Taxation and Litigation Sections

Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia, Member

Member, Brown Annual Fund Leadership Council, Brown University

Member, Brown Annual Fund Leader Network, Brown University

Mentor, Women’s Launch Pad, Brown University

Member, Advancement Committee, Congressional School

Member, American Constitution Society


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