December 8, 2009 2:25 PM
Kirkland Names New Chair
Posted by Zach Lowe
Jeffrey Hammes, a corporate lawyer who specializes in private equity deals, will take over the chairmanship of Kirkland & Ellis' 15-lawyer management committee, Kirkland insiders confirmed Tuesday. (The Chicago Tribune first reported the story).
Hammes will replace Thomas Yannucci, a Washington, D.C.-based litigator who has held the position since 2001. The Trib plays up the notion that Hammes' ascendancy into Yannucci's spot is confirmation that Kirkland has shifted focus from its litigation roots to the riches of corporate M&A and private equity. And that's probably true--to a degree.
But the reason for the change is actually much simpler. Yannucci is about to turn 60, and the firm's bylaws say that no one 60 or older can serve on the firm's management committee, says Richard Cieri, co-head of the firm's restructuring practice and a member of the management committee. The committee designated Hammes as Yannucci's successor last year so he could shadow Yannucci for a year and get a sense of his duties, Cieri says.
Hammes (who was on a plane and unavailable for comment) is a natural choice, since he has been at Kirkland since finishing law school in 1985. Bain Capital, the Boston-based private equity giant, is among Hammes' core clients. He advised Bain when it teamed up with Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts to buy Toys R Us for $6.6 billion in 2005.
Hammes has also been a big proponent of Kirkland's expansion, helping open the firm's San Francisco office in 2003 and its Palo Alto office last year, according to the National Law Journal, an Am Law Daily sibling publication.
People should not expect drastic changes at Kirkland, since Hammes represents Kirkland culture as much as anyone at the firm, Cieri says. "He's been here from day one," he says.Make a comment