Three Kirkland partners leave for Latham

By Ameet Sachdev
Posted March 1 at 6:07 p.m.

Three partners at Kirkland & Ellis resigned Tuesday and joined another elite corporate law firm in Chicago, Latham & Watkins.

Robert Buday, Nathaniel Marrs and Gary Axelrod, who represent clients in complex real estate transactions, are highly regarded according to lawyer-rating services such as Chambers & Partners.

Latham’s raid on Kirkland is unusual, as a group of partners rarely simultaneously leave one high-end firm for another. In addition, Latham has not been active in recruiting lawyers from other firms, known as the lateral market, in recent years, said Richard Levy, the head of the firm’s Chicago office.

“This is basically bringing in an entire group, and we haven’t done that in a while,” Levy said.

A Kirkland spokeswoman said, “We wish them well at their new firm.”

Latham’s Chicago office is better known for mergers and acquisitions, finance, tax and litigation. The Kirkland lawyers bring experience in private equity and real-estate finance that will mesh with Latham’s practices, Levy said.

The group also has a marquis roster of clients that include Starwood Hotels and Walton Street Capital, a Chicago private equity firm focused on real estate led by billionaire Neil Bluhm.

“It’s an opportune time in the business cycle to focus on real estate,” Levy said. “It’s been depressed for so long but now there’s a fair amount of liquidity and pricing is good.”

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