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Kirkland & Ellis Snags Leading CFIUS Lawyer From Skadden

March 4, 2020, 5:22 PM

Kirkland & Ellis is bringing aboard Ivan Schlager, who’s known for helping steer companies through the secretive U.S. foreign investment review process.

Schlager will join Kirkland’s International Trade & National Security Practice Group as partner later this year from rival firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He’ll be based in Washington, and will continue his practice advising clients on security and regulatory issues, specifically, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

“Ivan is among the top lawyers in the country for CFIUS and national security-related issues, which are prevalent in more transactions today than ever before,” Jon A. Ballis, chairman of Kirkland’s Global Management Executive Committee, said in a statement.

Schlager was with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for nearly 20 years. He was head of its national security practice, and a member of the firm’s highest governing body.

Lawyers able to navigate the foreign investment review committee, which decides whether proposed deals will harm U.S. security, are in demand. CFIUS is composed of executive branch officials and has become increasingly important to Trump administration efforts to limit the ability of Chinese companies to acquire or invest in U.S. businesses.

Schlager has represented a diverse range of clients, from defense and telecommunications providers to private equity firms and companies in the media, financial services, energy, manufacturing, and health care industries. He has developed many first-of-their-kind security agreements to obtain landmark CFIUS approvals.

“In my interactions with Kirkland over the years, I have been continually impressed with their extensive M&A/private equity platform,” the former U.S. Senate staffer and counsel said in a statement. “This is an incredible opportunity to pursue new challenges as I embark on the next chapter of my career.”

Also this week Kirkland said it hired an executive compensation and employee benefits partner, Stephen Jacobson, from Vinson & Elkins in Houston. Jacobson is the second Houston-based executive compensation partner to join Kirkland this year, following Rob Fowler who joined in January.

The door’s been swinging the other way, too. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher announced this week it had hired two private equity partners from Kirkland, Abtin Jalali and Chris Harding. They joined in San Francisco. And Sidley Austin hired Brian Kavanaugh, the former co-leader of Kirkland’s data privacy practice as a litigation partner in Chicago.

Schlager’s departure is the second recently for Skadden in the foreign investment dealmaking area. National security partner Donald Vieira left last October to become chief legal officer of Sequoia Capital, a venture fund.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Crawley in Washington at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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