Kirkland takes pole position in Q1 deal work

Kirkland & Ellis is once again the most active law firm in the private equity space based on deal volume, but based on deal value the latest mergermarket legal advisor charts show a shake-up at the top.

Similar to last year’s first quarter, Kirkland & Ellis has been awarded more private equity deal work than any other law firm in Q1 2012, according to the latest mergermarket league tables.

The firm provided counsel on 12 buyout transactions (worth a combined $3.4 billion) in the first three months of the year. Jones Day was the second most active firm in this space, having advised on nine deals (worth $1.5 billion); and after that Weil Gotshal & Manges, which advised on seven deals (also worth $3.4 billion).

However based on volume the charts show more fluctuation in firms’ Q1 rankings relative to last year. The most active law firm based on total buyout deal value in Q1 was Willkie Farr & Gallagher, which last year ranked 226 in the first quarter. In similar fashion Vinson & Elkins climbed 116 spots to rank third in this space. In second was Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, which ranked 27th in last year’s first quarter. 

Keith Fullenweider, head of V&E's M&A and private equity practice, said this year’s deal volume rankings were largely driven by the energy sector. Vinson for instance had advised Apollo on the largest buyout transaction announced in the US during the quarter: the $7 billion acquisition of El Paso Exploration. 

Fullenweider added the legal business is more driven by deal volume as opposed to value, meaning firms would rather land a series of private equity deals as opposed to one relatively large transaction.