Kirkland & Ellis raids Linklaters for financial regulation partner in London

Julia Dixon becomes latest UK Magic Circle partner to depart for a top US firm on home turf

Kirkland & Ellis has hired regulatory partner Julia Dixon from Linklaters to bolster its financial services regulatory practice in London.

News of Dixon’s hire comes just a few days after Kirkland announced that it had added the co-chair of Sidley Austin's securities enforcement practice, Nader Salehi, as a partner in its government, regulatory and internal investigations practice group in Washington DC.

Dixon will advise banks, asset managers and other financial institutions on both contentious and non-contentious regulatory issues, as well as strategic advice and guidance on regulatory risk management. She has particular experience advising on regulatory issues related to the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR), market abuse, corporate transactions and regulatory change events.

Jon Ballis, chairman of Kirkland’s executive committee, said that Dixon “brings further senior support and experience as we continue to grow our European regulatory practice and its offering across investment funds, M&A and standalone regulatory mandates.”

Dixon spent just under 15 years at Linklaters, which she joined as a trainee solicitor in 2007 before working her way up to partner in 2018.

Her departure from Linklaters to Kirkland is the latest in a wave of raids by large US firms on UK Magic Circle firms on their home turf over the past 12 months.

Back in May, Kirkland poached private equity lawyer Gregory Scott from Clifford Chance in London, while Weil Gotshal & Manges enticed antitrust partner Jenine Hulsmann, also from Clifford Chance. The latter followed the arrival of former Slaughter and May corporate partner Murray Cox in February. Slaughters also lost competition lawyer Jackie Holland to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in March, while Allen & Overy saw its global antitrust co-head exit for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett at the end of last year.

US firms have been raising salaries at all levels to attract and retain the best talent. In June, Davis Polk & Wardwell increased associate salaries to between $202,500 and $365,000 per year depending on seniority level. The hike came just a day after Milbank had raised first-year associate pay by $10,000 to $200,000, with its most senior associates receiving $355,000.

Average partner compensation in the US rose 10% in 2019 to $1.05m, according to Major Lindsey & Africa’s most recent law firm compensation survey. Male partners earned $1.13m on average compared to $784,000 for their female counterparts.

Kirkland announced last month that it was opening an office in Salt Lake City in Utah, in a bid to build relationships with prominent local law schools as part of its strategy to recruit top talent. And in April it relocated a quartet of partners to set up shop in Austin, adding to its existing offices in Texas in Dallas and Houston, to tap into the city’s growing market for technology and renewable energy.   


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