Arbitration partner exits Kirkland & Ellis in London for disputes boutique

Signature Litigation announces 20% revenue hike as Philipp Kurek joins after 14 years at US giant

Philipp Kurek Image courtesy of Signature Litigation

An international arbitration partner has left Kirkland & Ellis’s London office to join commercial disputes boutique Signature Litigation. 

Philipp Kurek has joined the firm after 14 years at Kirkland, where he trained and qualified and made partner in 2017. 

His exit follows a raft of senior private equity partner defections from Kirkland’s London office in recent weeks for US rival Paul Weiss, as the latter builds up its presence in the capital. 

Meantime Kurek’s move to Signature comes as the firm reports revenue growth of 19.6% for 2023, taking revenues past the £30m barrier to hit £32.6m. 

Kurek specialises in international arbitration with particular experience in investment arbitration, representing clients and providing strategic legal advice in ICSID and ad hoc arbitration proceedings.

He represents clients in investor-state and commercial arbitration proceedings operating in industries including technology, logistics, telecommunications, financial services, private equity, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and real estate. His focus on global arbitration has led to representing international clients in claims against states in Central and South America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

Founding partner, Graham Huntley, said: “Philipp will strengthen our existing arbitration practice, particularly with his focus on investor-state claims. The appointment reflects our objective of organically growing the partnership with strategic hires.”

Kurek said Signature’s conflict-free, disputes-only platform was “a compelling proposition” for his clients. His hire complements the practices of Neil Newing and Tsegaye Laurendeau, peers as arbitration lawyers, as well as existing senior partners like Hermes Marangos.

Newing joined Signature as counsel in 2017 from Eversheds Sutherland and was promoted to partner last October, while Laurendeau joined from boutique arbitration firm Gaillard Banifatemi Shelbaya Disputes, having previously worked at Shearman & Sterling in Paris. The firm also hired litigation partner Jérémie Fierville in its Paris office in April. 

The firm said it now has 22 partners and more than 100 members across its offices in London, Paris and Gibraltar. 

Its latest revenue growth marks a sharp uptick from 2022, when turnover grew only marginally to £27.8m from 2021’s £27.4m. The firm said the increase in 2023 was spread across a range of disputes and arbitrations, particularly within the banking, civil fraud and manufacturing sectors.

The firm also announced an annual profit share of 18.9% for 2023, paid to all members as part of its fixed profit-sharing model, up from 18.7% 2022. The firm said that since its formation it had transferred economic ownership of the firm away from equity partners to every member of the practice.

Kevin Munslow, CEO, said: “After slower growth in 2022, when we coped with market pressures, growth resumed strongly in 2023, in line with our long-term performance and budget expectations, across each of our London, Paris and Gibraltar offices. We continue to take advantage of opportunities in the market in line with our ongoing strategy to maintain managed year-on-year growth.”

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