Biglaw, Lateral Moves, Mergers and Acquisitions, Musical Chairs, Partner Issues, Private Equity, Texas

Musical Chairs: Kirkland & Ellis Strikes Again In Houston

The Houston legal market is hot — and a lot of the heat is being generated by Kirkland & Ellis. As we reported last month, K&E recently launched a Houston office with talent poached from a rival.

Kirkland hired Andrew Calder away from Simpson Thacher, for a reported $5 million a year for the next three-plus years. We’ve heard that these figures are a bit high — that he’s hitting the $5 million mark in his first year, thanks to a signing bonus, but not guaranteed at that level for the subsequent years — but there’s no denying that he’s being paid very, very well.

And there’s no denying that K&E will pay what it takes to break into the Houston market. Who’s the latest up-and-coming young partner to get invited into the Kirkland club?

One of Baker Botts’s rising stars, energy partner Anthony Speier, has given notice and plans to move to K&E. The exact timing of his move is unclear. Baker Botts has a 90-day notice period, and they have sometimes invoked it against departing partners — e.g., Herschel T. Hamner III, who moved over to Sidley last July — depending on how they feel about the departure.

It’s possible that Speier might decide to flout the notice period. It could mean losing his capital contribution, but we’re guessing that Kirkland’s pay package should be more than enough to make up for it (especially since capital contributions aren’t huge at Baker Botts, and Speier was a fairly new partner).

We reached out to Kirkland and Baker Botts for comment on Speier’s move. We have not yet heard back from either firm, but if and when we do, we’ll update.

Kirkland is still in its expansionary phase, paying handsomely for top talent and striking fear into the hearts of the old-line Houston firms. And those firms will, in turn, be eager to replace the talent they lose to K&E. If you’re looking to move within or to the Houston market, now seems like a very good time to pick up the phone and talk to a recruiter.

If you have news of a notable partner move that’s not yet public (moves that have already been announced are less interesting to us), please feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.

(Flip to the next page for the bio of Anthony Speier.)

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