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Kirkland & Ellis Moves to Salt Lake City Seeking Recruiting Edge

Sept. 3, 2021, 2:56 PM

Kirkland & Ellis is opening an office in Salt Lake City, citing an effort to hire law students from Utah schools, as Big Law continues to move into new markets driven by a surge in work and a work-from-anywhere culture brought on by the pandemic.

Three Kirkland partners will relocate to its new Salt Lake City office: corporate partner Travis Nelson, litigation partner Brigham Cannon, and investment funds partner Warren Goodworth. Nelson and Cannon are BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School alumni.

The move mirrors Kirkland’s entrance this year into Austin, Texas, where it said it was targeting lawyers from University of Texas School of Law. It was also an offering for current lawyers who viewed the city as an attractive place to live as lawyers increasingly work remotely.

“With an extraordinary talent pool of highly skilled attorneys, as well as an excellent academic community, including Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School and University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, having an office in Salt Lake City enhances our ability to attract exceptional legal talent and expand our capacity to meet increasing client demand,” Jon Ballis, Chairman of Kirkland’s Executive Committee, said in a statement.

Salt Lake City has in recent years attracted other law firms including Dentons, Quinn Emanuel, and Lewis Brisbois as the local start-up and venture capital scene has grown into what some call the “Silicon Slopes.” The entrance of the country’s largest law firm by revenue could spur others to join the competition for local lawyers and clients.

Kirkland reported more than $4.8 billion in gross revenue last year in figures provided to The American Lawyer.

Corporate law firms have seen a surge in work on mergers and acquisitions and capital markets products. That has piled hours on associates, and forced firms to expand their hiring pools to include schools and cities they’d previously overlooked.

Latham & Watkins this week formally launched an office in Austin, Texas led by alumni from University of Texas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com