Kirkland & Ellis Interview 2019 - 2020

Discussion in 'Interview Experiences 2019 - 2020 Cycle' started by Jaysen, Mar 19, 2020.

  1. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    January 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Vacation Scheme 2020

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    9 am Arrival and ice breaker
    9:45 Partner Q & A
    10:45 Break
    11:00 Group Interview
    12:00 Lunch
    1:00 Partner Interview
    1:40 Written Exercise
    2:30 ish Leave

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    Introduction by Grad Rec, ice breaker (about 30 mins). Nothing much else to note here, if you have been on an open day you’ll recognise the slides.

    Partner Q&A (1hr) 9:45
    Around 10 people in each group.
    They take notes on the questions you ask but it seemed very brief. E.g someone asked a question about AI the partner just wrote AI by his name and photo.
    Stephen Lucas (the partner leading) is extremely transparent about what Kirkland does and if it isn’t for you it isn’t for you. I think you’ll be fine if you just stay engaged, it doesn’t feel like much of an assessment at all and I’m not sure how much they collect from it.
    Be prepared to state where else you have applied and the status of these applications. I forgot a couple which was a bit annoying so quickly jot your apps down because they go around the group. If you have applied to a mix of firms I wouldn’t lie about it because it is expected that you are looking at different places at the vac scheme level. The people who only applied to ‘American’ firms were questioned a bit further I’d say, probably because Lucas thinks the distinction between British and American firms is a false one because the American firms are all very different. He called Latham a ‘Magic Circle Lite’!
    Just justify whatever applications you’ve made – Lucas has been a partner at CC, Links and Weil before Kirkland so he will understand that you want to shop around.

    Break 10:45

    Group exercise (1 hr) 11:00
    Choosing a CEO for Kirkland enterprises. Pick whoever as long as they are well-known, and you can justify it (you present for a minute). Group picks who the CEO will be. In my group John Legend won. Someone picked the chairman or ex-chairman of KE which I thought was a bit weird and I don’t think most people knew who he was so I’d say don’t try and impress with your choice and just focus on presenting it well.

    When we had to pick a winner as a group a girl on the end was quick to dominate (she still got offered the scheme). A lot of people get advice for group interviews to be the timekeeper (I had heard that as well) and it was abundantly clear so I’d say you don’t need to be assertive and force the role in the first instance. Just make sure you contribute to the group discussion. There was 10 people in the group and Grad Rec is not going to penalise against not being in that role!

    The group all spoke over each other and I thought it wasn’t that great a demonstration of teamwork. There were a few dominant voices and I think if it gets like that make sure you get to contribute but also be respectful about it. Make constructive comments. Recognise that there are about 10 different potential CEOs but you can only present 1! If things are dragging on try and present it as a vote. In my group we picked a winner but then people kept debating so I tried to emphasise that we had already selected a CEO and were running out of time.

    Trainee lunch (1hr ish ) 12:00
    Pretty sure this wasn’t assessed but it was just networking over lunch.

    Partner interview (30 mins roughly) 1:00
    Varies greatly on the partner you get. I had Jonathan Tadd, others had Rajinda Bassi, Stephen Lucas etc. My friend’s first question was ‘what makes you stand out’. Make sure you know what private equity is, one of the other candidates mentioned that she got asked about leverage and didn’t know what it was, so don’t let stuff like that trip you up.

    You get the opportunity to ask a question at the end – I asked about the non-equity partner status at KE as I had read an article about how it wasn’t a good thing. I didn’t plan the question or anything it just arose out of the discussion and I wanted to know the answer. The partner had also read the article so that was good and I actually got the issue clarified.

    The interview was very conversational. I got asked about why I wanted to do law, where I saw my career going, why Kirkland, when I had shown resilience, how I was finding my degree, how I organise myself, how I perform work to a high standard among other things that I don’t remember but were along the same lines. I found it really enjoyable Sometimes I drew on personal experiences instead of my CV as he’d already seen that and that worked really well. The partner had said things like 'that was a great answer' and 'that was the perfect answer' and I still didn't get offered the scheme so I think it's important to do well in all the aspects of the day.

    Written exercise 1:40 (1hr ish, depends on how long your partner interview is, I don’t think anyone got equal time)
    2 sides of A4
    Qualities of a good trainee solicitor at Kirkland. I think most people used a simple structure of skill -- when they showed it.
    Not much advice I can give here as you can’t tell if it’s going badly as obviously as in an interview/ exercise.

    This was the order of my day, but people had it differently! Some started their written exercise, then had an interview and then came back to finish the written exercise. Some did the group exercise first.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    See Above

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.


    My key advice is to not be too nervous or rehearse answers and sound robotic. I think this goes for all interviews honestly. Your interviewers are people and I would just try and build a rapport with them by showing them your personality. I don’t think the negative effect of nerves is emphasised enough because the interview partly shows how you can handle high-pressure situations, which aren’t rare as a lawyer. Relax as much as possible and convey genuine motivations – everyone who interviews at Kirkland will say that they like PE so how can you make your answer different?

    It’s very hard to prepare, just review your application and know why you want to be a commercial lawyer and why at Kirkland. Stephen Lucas is also a big name in debt finance and is likely to be the dominant partner in the partner Q&A. I think you should really take the opportunity to ask a genuine question, it’s very obvious if you just want to show off and you have the opportunity to learn from one of the best lawyers in the City! Also 2/3 to 3/4 of around 20-25 candidates on the AC were from Oxbridge. Apparently, this is quite typical and I wouldn’t let it put you off. Just thought I would note it here.

    Note -- Kirkland do not give feedback.

    Were you successful?

    No
     
  2. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Messages:
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    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    February 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Spring Vacation Scheme

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    The day was from 9.15 until 14.30

    We had refreshments and introduced ourselves until 10am.There were around 20 of us.

    Written exercise- 10.00 until 12.00

    Interview- 11.30 -11.50

    Lunch- 12.00pm until 13.00pm

    Group exercise- 13.00 until 13.30

    Talk with Stephen Lucas (Partner)- 13.45 until 14.30

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    The written exercise:
    - We had to write a letter to Grad Rec about what makes a good trainee at Kirkland. It could be no longer than 2 sides of A4.
    - I’ve heard that they have also asked people to write about why they want to train at Kirkland so I’d advise prepping 3/4 points about both of these questions and any other similar general questions.
    - We also had to do an in-tray exercise where we were given 6 tasks that a trainee may have to do in a day. We had to detail how we would prioritise these tasks.
    - We had lots of time to finish both tasks, even though we all had our interviews in the same time frame, so this was pretty straight forward.

    Interview with 2 partners:
    - The interview was set to last for 20mins. Mine lasted 15mins.
    - People had different experiences based on the partners they had. Mine were very relaxed. They asked ‘why Kirkland’ and because I mentioned private equity they asked me what PE was and how it worked. There’s more than enough info on the TCLA PE course to answer both of these questions well.
    - They didn’t mention my application and actually had my CV in front of them instead so be prepared to talk about your work experience.
    - Have 2/3 good questions to ask at the end of the interview too.

    Group Exercise:
    - There was around 20 of us there so they split us in half for this.
    - We were given a job description for CEO of a fictional company. We had 10mins to think of a well-known character (fictional or non-fictional) who would fit. We then had 60 seconds to pitch to the rest of the group. After pitches we had 10 mins to discuss which character should get the job.

    Talk with Stephen Lucas:
    - It’s structured like a Q&A so just make sure you have a couple of good questions prepared and look engaged throughout.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    Why Kirkland & Ellis?

    What is private equity in layman's terms?

    One of the partners outlined a very brief PE scenario (just drew a quick diagram on a piece of paper) and asked me how the money is shared between the private equity firm and the bank after exiting the investment.

    When have I shown initiative?

    Where does Kirkland sit in the market?

    Why do I think I would fit into Kirkland?

    Overall, they asked questions that you would expect- no awkward ones.

    I know some other people were asked about the other firms they’ve applied to and how Kirkland’s different from its competitors. One girl who had a pretty international background was asked why she didn’t want to work at a more international firm which I thought was an interesting question.

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    Written exercise
    - Make sure you have researched the firm well so you can use this information in the letter.
    - Write small so you can fit all of your ideas onto the two sides of A4.
    - With the in-tray exercise, you can’t do much prep for it but I found a practice in-tray exercise on assessmentday.com which made me feel more confident about the task.

    Interview with 2 partners
    - It's definitely easier said than done but try to be confident. If you don't feel confident then pretend- the confidence will follow!

    Group exercise
    - I found this the most challenging because there were 11 of us and there were 4 big personalities so it was pretty difficult to get a chance to speak.
    - I would advise trying to jump in first with a strategy to decide who should get the job e.g. we voted for our top 2 to discuss, and then round it off at the end when the group’s decided. That way you’ve shown leadership and would probably only have to make 1/2 decent points during the discussion to make your mark.
    - During the initial pitch I’d advise to be as structured as possible and try to keep to the time limit.
    - Be/ suggest a timekeeper too!!

    Talk with Stephen Lucas
    - He asked where else we had applied and one girl was challenged because she mentioned a firm that was quite different to Kirkland (I think it was Clyde & Co) so try to mention similar firms.

    Were you successful?

    No
     
  3. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
    Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,399
    Trophy Points:
    204
    TCLA Credits:
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    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    January 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Summer Vacation Scheme 2020

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    9AM Arrival

    9:30 AM: Talk with Graduate Recruitment as to structure of day

    10:00 AM: Interview with 2 Partners

    10:30 AM: Written Exercises

    12:30 PM: Lunch and Networking with Trainees

    1:30 PM: Group Exercise

    2:15 PM: Q&A with Partner

    3:00 PM: End of Day

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    Interview with Partners: Quick straight-to-the-point interview with 2 partners assessing your motivations of applying to Kirkland, what other firms you were applying to, and your understanding of what Private Equity is.

    Written Exercises: 2 different types of written exercise.
    1) Cover Letter to Graduate Recruitment: Almost essentially a re-draft of your Cover Letter in your online application, you are asked to write a 2-page letter to graduate recruitment on what makes a good trainee for Kirkland & Ellis.

    2) In-Tray Exercise: You are given a hypothetical scenario as a trainee and given a list of tasks that you have to do by the end of the day, but don't have time to do them all. You have to then write out how your would organize your schedule and the reasoning behind the prioritization of certain issues.

    Group Exercise: Within a group of 12, you are all given a hypothetical consultancy whose new CEO you should nominate. Amongst yourselves you will each advocate for a candidate (can be real or fictional but must not be of the business world - i.e. not Elon Musk or Warren Buffet) and try to convince the others with a 60 second speech. Subsequently you will have 15 minutes to come to a consensus amongst yourselves as to who should be chosen.

    Q&A with Partner: You are taken into a room with the managing partner who is at your disposal to answer any questions you may have about the firm. It felt quasi-assessment given that the Partner and Graduate Recruitment officers in the room would write down comments next to your name after you asked a question.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    Why Kirkland & Ellis?

    What other firms are you applying to?

    What is Private Equity?

    Why an American Firm?

    What is leveraged finance?

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    1) Study up on Kirkland and Private Equity - Unlike other firms, K&E expect you to come with pre-disposed knowledge on not only the work they do but also what is private equity and how it works. To be successful, you have to be able to carry on a full conversation with the partners as to the workings of Private Equity and the different instantiations of law that arise as a result of it.

    2) Be well rested - it's a long day and the diversity of exercises means that you will be on your feet a lot and have to change different mindsets frequently. You want to be able to think on your feet but also be able to work with others well.

    3) Revise your Cover Letter - this will be especially useful for the Cover Letter Exercise.

    Were you successful?

    No
     

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