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Kirkland Hires WilmerHale’s Brown in Finance Practice Boost (1)

Nov. 30, 2020, 7:11 PM; Updated: Nov. 30, 2020, 9:07 PM

Kirkland & Ellis has hired Reginald “Reg” Brown and three other partners from WilmerHale, where Brown served as chairman of the firm’s financial institutions practice.

Brown served as associate White House counsel and special assistant to President George W. Bush from 2003 to 2005 and as vice chair of WilmerHale’s crisis management and strategic response group. He joined WilmerHale in 1997 and returned to the firm after his White House work.

The three partners joining Brown’s move are Daniel Chaudoin, Jeremy Dresner, and Daniel Kearney, a Kirkland statement said. The group has represented clients in investigations conducted by Congress, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Department of Justice.

For Kirkland, the country’s largest law firm by revenue, Brown’s hire adds firepower to a rare practice where it is not already ranked as a top player.

Brown is among the 20 highest-ranked lawyers nationally for representing banks in enforcement and investigation work, according to Chambers & Partners, which conducts interviews and market research to rank lawyers and law firms.

Prior to his hire, Kirkland was shut out of those ranks, which include lawyers from top New York firms Kirkland competes with, such as Sullivan & Cromwell, Skadden, and Paul Weiss.

“Kirkland & Ellis has a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and I am really looking forward to working with such distinguished colleagues—both old and new—on complex, high-profile and high-stakes matters, combining my expertise with theirs as we tackle our clients’ most pressing challenges,” Brown said in a statement.

Brown’s high-profile clients have included Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who Brown coached before his 2018 congressional testimony. He represented several large banks after the financial crisis.

In September, The Blackstone Group Inc. named Brown to its 13-member board of directors. Kirkland & Ellis has one of the largest practices representing private equity firms and has done work for Blackstone. The investment company’s closest law firm relationship, however, has been with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where Blackstone’s two most recent chief legal officers, Robert Friedman and John Finley, worked.

“Reg Brown has long been trusted by top global institutions and leaders to help them navigate challenges where the stakes couldn’t be any higher,” Jon A. Ballis, chairman of Kirkland’s executive committee, said in a statement. “Joining with him is a talented group with impeccable credentials. The addition of these accomplished attorneys is exciting for Kirkland and our clients.”

WilmerHale did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Industry experts predict large, wealthy firms like Kirkland will increase hiring from competitor firms in coming months. Larger firms have generally outperformed during the pandemic, giving them a financial edge to lure new partners.

Kirkland has ties to many Trump administration lawyers who will soon be leaving government, including most notably Attorney General William Barr, who was a longtime Kirkland partner.

(Updates with additional information throughout.)

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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