Law Firms

A Firm Known for Retaining Partners Loses One to Kirkland

A partner’s lateral move from one BigLaw firm to another usually attracts little notice.

That’s not the case, however, when the partner is from Cravath, Swaine & Moore. “It’s rare for partners to leave Cravath, given the prestige, pay and perks associated with partnership at the firm,” Above the Law explains. “Cravath remains at the top.” The firm’s profits per partner are $3.1 million, and it is ranked as the fifth most profitable in the country.

As a result, the news got a lot of play when Kirkland & Ellis announced that Cravath mergers and acquisitions partner Sarkis Jebejian would be moving to Kirkland’s New York office. The Am Law Daily, Above the Law and the New York Times DealBook blog all had the news.

Jebejian was a Cravath “lifer” who joined the firm after graduating from Columbia Law School, DealBook says. He told the Am Law Daily he left because of a “once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity” to join a more entrepreneurial practice at Kirkland. He also cited Kirkland’s global reach and the recent growth of its M&A practice.

He also may have the opportunity to make more money at Kirkland, the Am Law Daily says. Cravath has a lockstep pay system while Kirkland rewards its top partners with a more flexible system. Top partners at Kirkland can make eight times as much as junior partners, while senior partners at Cravath make three times as much as junior partners.

Cravath lost just one other partner this year, the Am Law Daily says. Last January, environmental practice chief Jeffrey Smith moved to Crowell & Moring.

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