On an annual basis, Chambers Global conducts extensive research and thorough data analysis in compiling their objective list of legal talent available at the highest level of international legal practice. Their research methodology has been independently audited and confirmed to be thorough, robust and complete.
In Chambers' 2002-2003 regional review of international legal talent in the area of "Corporate/M&A: Chicago," Kirkland & Ellis ranked first. This ranking reflects the opinion of the marketplace as revealed by Chambers' systematic and objective research.
Kirkland partners Jack Levin, Carter Emerson, Kevin Evanich, Bill Kirsch and Jeff Hammes were selected as leading individuals in this area.
"Distinguished from traditional corporate groups by a vast team of private equity specialists, this firm is described by our interviewees quite simply as a "national practice that happens to be based in Chicago." Although hit by the current dip in venture capital investments, this "fabulous" group retains an immense lead in the market for its expertise, depth of experience and manpower in LBOs, debt financings, and fund formation.
Although researchers noted that the firm's "litigator mentality" did not meet with unanimous approval, the "confrontational" approach to transactions has not damped the favour of major clients who agree that the firm's "institutional knowledge base" has permeated from partners to associates ensuring advice of a consistently high quality. Somewhat overshadowed by the strength of the private equity group, the firm has nonetheless undertaken multi-billion dollar acquisition work, and is bolstered in this arena by blue-chip public company clients.
"One of the most influential lawyers in America," Jack Levin is credited by many of our interviewees as writing the book on private equity practice. Despite the commitments of prominent training and academic roles keeping him from the coal face, he is judged "still a force," disseminating his knowledge through the firm, and remains considered by many as "the best lawyer in Chicago." An outstanding career as a tax lawyer and a loyal basket of institutional clients cements his unparalleled reputation.
"An exception to the firm's aggressive norm," Carter Emerson maintains a mixed company and private equity practice and is thought to be the practitioner with "the best combination of public and private expertise" at the firm. Clients find him always "accessible" and "interested in getting the deal done," and he recently represented Telecom New Zealand on a US equity placement, and advised Exide in its $368 million acquisition of the worldwide battery operations of GNB from Pacific Dunlop.
Commended for his depth of experience and skilful handling of a transaction, Kevin Evanich is "forceful but not inappropriately so." A "shrewd negotiator," he represented GTCR in its $500 million purchase of Securitylink and subsequent sale for $1 billion, and has been involved with the formation of the investment advisory business, Adams Street Partners.
Hardworking Bill Kirsch "gets tremendous results for clients." He is best known for his work on leveraged transactions and M&A.
Jeffrey Hammes has worked on a number of LBOs, tender offers and other transactions in excess of $100 million. Described as "financially astute," and an "aggressive, but often a subtle operator," his clients have included Bain Capital, Golden Gate Capital, Hidden Creek Industries and Swander Pace Capital.
Clients: General Motors; DPL; Exide Corporation; Leo Burnett; Madison Dearborn Partners; CIVC Partners; First Chicago Venture Corporation; ABN AMRO; Willis Stein & Partners; GTCR Golder Rauner; Thoma Cressey Equity Partners; Code, Hennessy & Simmons; River Road Partners; William Blair & Co."
Reprinted with permission from Chamber's Global: The World's Leading Lawyers 2002-2003